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Solving climate change truly means an all-hands-on-deck approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use. That means everything from using more efficient building technologies to innovating new building technologies that can drastically change how buildings are operated and how they use energy. A new invention may make huge headway in solving the problem of how much electricity buildings use to cool during warm (and increasingly warmer) summer months.
Combining an inexpensive polymer/aluminum film with a solar shelter, engineers at the University of Buffalo have devised a way to cool buildings without using any electricity, according to a story in Science Daily.
The polymer dissipates heat via thermal radiation, said Lyu Zhou, one of the designers. Much like a low emissivity roof is able to radiate heat away from a building, and thus why many cities even in cold climates require cool roofs, this system also radiates heat away from the building into the atmosphere, keeping both the building and its surrounding areas cooler.
However, the difference is that this system “beams the emissions” in a narrow direction, said one of the engineers. Several of these systems — basically boxes — could be placed on the roof of a high-rise building in crowded urban settings, dramatically reducing the temperature of both the building and the surrounding area.
The researchers report that the system “helped reduce the temperature of a small, enclosed space by a maximum of about 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit). At night, that figure rose to about 11 degrees Celsius (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit).”
This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management and FacilitiesNet.com. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.