In an increasingly hotter world, what policies, designs, technologies & behaviours can provide thermal adequacy for coolth?
Buildings and cities have become highly dependent on air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation. Without significant intervention demand for air-conditioning (AC) is projected to rise by 700% by 2050. The implications of an unsustainable increase in cooling demand are being recognised in many countries around the world.
Recent discussions about ‘build back better’ after the Covid-19 pandemic afford an opportunity to reconsider many contemporary practices in the built environment: health and wellbeing, thermal comfort and the agency of building occupants, adaptation to climate change, energy use and environmental impacts, economics and equity, social expectations and demographics, design and innovation, thermal characteristics of buildings and cities. In addition, many countries have stipulated that new buildings must be carbon neutral. Climate change will create an increasingly warmer world – impacting on summer overheating in buildings. This is an urgent concern for both mitigation and adaptation: how can thermal comfort be provided during hotter summers without the GHG emissions? ‘Conventional’ air conditioning will soon be technologically redundant. Can our cities and buildings be designed to have little or no mechanical intervention?
This special issue explores alternative approaches to providing thermal comfort and ventilation in different climatic zones across the world at the scales of building, neighbourhood and city. It considers the implications of these alternatives across a range of issues: health, wellbeing, air quality and heat stress; technical / design solutions; social expectations and practices; climate change; policy and regulation; supply chain and procurement; education and training. It includes a range of disciplines: geography, sociology, anthropology, behavioural sciences, architecture, engineering, public health, economics, energy and environmental assessment.
Collectively the papers in this special issue describe a range of viable approaches to ‘alternatives to air-conditioning’ and contribute to an understanding of the opportunities for better informed practice and policy. These alternatives embrace much more than a technological issue: they require holistic design thinking, and include social aspects (expectations, behaviours, practices).
However, the special issue reveals a number of significant gaps which are discussed in the editorial. New pathways to successfully implement alternatives to air conditioning need to be led by policy and regulation, as well as new business models in creating market demand. In this transition to a low carbon future the questions are not just ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’, but primarily ‘How?’. A critical issue will be redefining professional practices, design decision processes, performance standards and capabilities for designing for performance and optimisation processes.
Alternatives to air-conditioning: policies, design, technologies, behaviours (editorial)
B. Ford, D. Mumovic & R. Rawal
Living with air-conditioning:
experiences in Dubai, Chongqing and London
N. Murtagh, S. Badi, Y. Shi, S. Wei & W. Yu
air-conditioning: thermal comfort evaluations
M. Luo, H. Zhang, Z. Wang, E. Arens, W. Chen, F. S. Bauman & P. Raftery
air filtration: optimising indoor air quality and energy
E. Bellas & D. Lucina
overheating in UK homes: is there a safe haven?
P. Drury, S. Watson & K. Lomas
and passive cooling: overheating and air quality in primary schools
D. Grassie, Y. Schwartz, P. Symonds, I. Korolija, A. Mavrogianni & D. Mumovic
Integrating low energy cooling and ventilation strategies in
M. J. Cook, Y. Shukla, R. Rawal, C. Angelopoulos, L. Caruggi-de-Faria, D. Loveday, E. Spentzou & J. Patel
mass for passive cooling and ventilation: adaptive comfort limits, ideal
quantities, embodied carbon
T. de Toldi, S. Craig & L. Sushama
assessment in Passivhaus dwellings: the influence of prediction tools
V. L. Goncalves, V. Costanzo, K. Fabbri & T. Rakha
behaviour and energy: geothermal air-conditioning in a residential development
L. Thomas, A. Woods, R. Powles, P. Kalali & S. Wilkinson
approach to delivering safe, sustainable surgical theatre environments
C. A. Short, A. W. Woods, L. Drumright, R. Zia & N. Mingotti
in New Zealand: power and policy
H. Byrd, S. Matthewman & E. Rasheed
Common sources of occupant dissatisfaction with workspace environments in 600 office buildings
T Parkinson, S Schiavon, J Kim & G Betti
Urban growth in peri- urban, rural and urban areas: Mexico City
G M Cruz-Bello, J M Galeana-Pizaña & S González-Arellano
Overcoming the incumbency and barriers to sustainable cooling
J Lizana, N D Miranda, L Gross, A Mazzone, F Cohen, G Palafox-Alcantar, P Fahr, A Jani, R Renaldi, M Mcculloch & R Khosla
Assessing climate action progress of the City of Toronto
K R Slater, J Ventura, J B Robinson, C Fernandez, S Dutfield & L King
Meeting urban GHG reduction goals with waste diversion: multi-residential buildings
V MacLaren, E Ikiz & E Alfred
Climate action in urban mobility: personal and political transformations
G Hochachka, K G Logan, J Raymond & W Mérida
Transformational climate action at the city scale: comparative South–North perspectives
D Simon, R Bellinson & W Smit
Stretching or conforming? Financing urban climate change adaptation in Copenhagen
S Whittaker & K Jespersen
Embodied carbon emissions in buildings: explanations, interpretations, recommendations
T Lützkendorf & M Balouktsi
Pathways to improving the school stock of England towards net zero
D Godoy-Shimizu, S M Hong, I Korolija, Y Schwartz, A Mavrogianni & D Mumovic
Urban encroachment in ecologically sensitive areas: drivers, impediments and consequences
M H Andreasen, J Agergaard, R Y Kofie, L Møller-Jensen & M Oteng-Ababio
Local decarbonisation opportunities and barriers: UK public procurement legislation
K Sugar, T M Mose, C Nolden, M Davis, N Eyre, A Sanchez-Graells & D Van Der Horst
Canadian cities: climate change action and plans
Y Herbert, A Dale & C Stashok
Energy, emerging technologies and gender in homes [editorial]
Y Strengers, K Gram-Hanssen, K Dahlgren & L Aagaard
Can renewable and smart energy technologies in the home avoid negative consequences for gender, power, and nature-society relations within the domestic sphere? Olufolahan Osunmuyiwa, Helene Ahlborg, Martin Hultman, Kavya Michael and Anna Åberg comment on ‘Masculine roles and practices in homes with photovoltaic systems’ (Mechlenborg & Gram-Hanssen, 2022) – published in a recent Buildings & Cities special issue ‘Energy, Emerging Tech and Gender in Homes’.
The overall outcomes of COP27 (held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt) have been reported by some as disappointing. However, leading city networks such as C40 and ICLEI claim that subnational governments and cities have made a significant breakthrough with the launch of the Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation initiative (SURGe). This commentary explores how much of a breakthrough this really is.