What materials keep buildings cool
What keeps buildings cool, air conditioning is not only expensive; it’s also terrible for the environment. It represents 10% of daily global energy consumption, and the venue cooling in 2016 alone was responsible for 1045 metric tons of CO2 emissions. This number is only expected to increase as the International Energy Agency estimates that refrigeration will reach 37% of total global energy demand by 2050.
Air conditioning units are especially harmful because they rely on refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). While HFCs account for only 1% of all greenhouse gas emissions, they are also thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
What materials keep buildings cool
Designing with naturally cooled materials can help mitigate these environmental impacts by reducing the need for air conditioning. Below, specialists have assembled some physical and structural solutions for passive cooling that may help designers to efficiently regulate building temperatures in an energy-efficient manner.
Thermal mass and insulation
Dense materials like stone, concrete, and earth have a number of properties that allow them to function as a good heat insulation. These include alternating good thermal conductivity (passive retooling capacity), thermal retardation (slow heat transfer), low reflectivity (low heat redistribution), and high amount thermal capacity (high heat storage capacity). When these materials are used in large quantities, their insulated qualities become especially strong, as exemplified by unique “cave houses” such as the summer architectural “cave house” in Capsimales, Santorini. Other projects, such as A-cero’s Concrete House, rely on thick concrete walls to achieve similar effects.
More traditional homes may not use such bulky materials but rely on effective thermal insulation instead. Typically, the thermal resistance of the insulation is measured by what is called a “R-factor” or “R-value”. The higher this value, the more thermally resistant materials, and more effective insulation. Materials such as polystyrene, polyurethane foam, and phenolic foam are examples of high R value thermal insulators.
Natural materials keep buildings cool
Besides thick concrete walls of the building, many designs with similar heat awareness use natural elements such as green roofs or ivy walls (climbing shade plant) Green roofs are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also provide shade, remove heat from air, and reduce temperature Surfaces. Notable examples are the California Academy of Sciences at Renzo Piano, CBG Nanyang School of Art, and Enrique Ruiz-Gili Villa Pio.
In addition, from the use of natural materials for cooling, water merging into a building can similarly cool down in the home or workplace through evaporation and air flow, depending on climate. This methodology was recognized early in the Romans, who often designed their homes and have a pond in the central courtyard of the house.
Windows design and placement
Green surfaces and water features may seem excessive to the average homeowner or designer, but passive cooling can be just as easy as choosing the right glass for a building’s windows. The lower the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) for the glass, the less heat it transmits and the coldness of the building. These benefits can be increased with external blinds, which prevent sunlight from hitting the windows at all, thus reducing the amount of heat or glare that comes inside. Even placing these windows can have negative cooling effects through cross ventilation, or aligning the windows to facilitate air circulation. A notable example of cross-ventilation is the Louisiana pistol houses, which reduce interior walls that may obstruct horizontal drafts.
Finally, light-colored reflective surfaces, which are another alternative to green surfaces, can effectively cool interior spaces by reorienting sunlight and reducing heat absorption. Examples include surfaces with lids, reflective panels, wood panels, or reflective paint. While normal or dark surfaces can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit in intense heat, “cold surfaces” may only reach 50 in the same conditions.
High ceilings and domes may also allow the current heat to rise and escape from the areas used. Likewise, covered terraces and parasols can protect the interiors from sunlight and glare. All in all, considerations of materials and structural design go hand in hand to create effective alternatives to air conditioning and mechanical refrigeration, which reduces the use of HFCs and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
These were the most important factors and materials that keep buildings cool. We hope you benefit.