The world is becoming more and more environmentally conscious. Sustainable buildings have the potential to cut energy consumption by fifty percent or more by the end of 2050. But, these eco-friendly buildings are not just great for the environment. They’re great for their tenants too. Estimates suggest that working in a well-ventilated environment can improve brain function by 101%.
Today, 17% of most green buildings in the United States belong to the education sector. However, with various states promoting green and environmental initiatives, the industry is expected to grow significantly in the next decade. It’s no wonder that homeowners, architects, and engineers alike are looking at different ways of cooling buildings without air conditioners. So far, these are the most sustainable ways we’re keeping our facilities cool.
1. Smart Coating
One of the most promising sustainable cooling methods everyone’s looking at is an eco-friendly and low-coast coating. This new coating uses titanium dioxide nanoparticles, glass microspheres, and fluorescent microparticles to reflect sunlight hitting the building. This reflection minimizes heat absorption and re-emits infrared radiation, consequently keeping the building cooler.
Engineers tested coating on a model concrete building. It was tested against daytime heat. During the test, the building’s internal temperature remained at around 78 degrees, even though the outside temperature fluctuated between 75 and 98 degrees during the day. The smart coating is an up-and-coming new technology that could be applied to existing buildings and homes everywhere, helping fight climate change and the global energy crisis.
2. Insulating Roofs
For most buildings and homes, the roof is one of the primary sources of heat. Therefore, insulating the roof and attic prevents all the heat that builds up throughout the day from entering the house. Sustainable buildings aim to choose reflective roofing materials to ensure less heat is absorbed through the roof.
3. Sustainable Building Materials
It’s no secret that stone, bricks, and concrete can help buildings feel naturally cooler, thanks to the high thermal mass of these materials. Indeed, all of these building materials have the capacity of absorbing and releasing heat slowly, providing a more stable temperature over time. Many say these are “smart” materials that remain cooler during the day and exude warmth at nighttime.
Of course, modern buildings are moving away from these traditional materials. Instead, they’re opting for sustainable and eco-friendly solutions that often have little thermal mass. The secret is combining these new materials with suitable insulation materials and other cooling techniques to design sustainable buildings.
4. Hybrid and Phase Change Materials
While concrete is a favorite material for its high thermal mass, it’s not as environmentally friendly as one would like. Alternatives such as hybrid and phase change materials (PCMs) can store and release energy in the form of heat as the material changes phases. It has the ability to “freeze” as it gets cold and release heat as it warms down. As the material “unfreezes” or becomes liquid again, it absorbs heat, which provides a natural cooling effect. PCMS have a greater thermal mass than stones, and they can help reduce energy consumption by at least 30%.
5. Radiant Cooling in Sustainable Buildings
A prevalent trend in sustainable buildings is that radiant cooling is highly efficient, especially against conventional systems. Radiant cooling runs cool water through pipes hiding between floor slabs, ceiling panels, and even walls. It’s remarkably efficient in hot climates, as it is possible to cool down the water to go through the house. It then sprays overnight over the roof to be recollected, stored, and used the following day again. The recyclability aspect of radiant cooling is what truly makes it a preferred sustainable choice for new buildings.
Geraldine Orentas is a writer with Happy Writers, Co. in partnership with Texas-based fencing designer, Viking Fence.