Why Urban Heat Resilience Needs to Be Equitable
“Why must equity take paramount importance when we design urban heat resilience?”
With the increase in average global temperatures and the densification of metropolitan centers, urban heat resilience will become a greater issue for the world. However, engineers and urban planners must keep in mind that the most vulnerable people in society, particularly seniors, young children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities and medical conditions will be the most susceptible to extreme heat. Resilience techniques that do not take these elements of society into account or ignore their needs will actively hurt them. For example, if all of the resources go to greening the wealthy districts of a city, then none will be left for people of lower-income areas. Since it is the duty of resilience professionals to ensure the safety of those most affected by climate change, it is only understandable Why Urban Heat Resilience Needs to Be Equitable.
Indoor Air Quality
“What exactly is indoor air quality?”
When air quality is talked about, usually the discussion is focused on the exterior environment. However, the air quality inside a building can fluctuate as well. The Indoor Air Quality, also known as IAQ, is contingent upon a multitude of factors, such as type of ventilation, exterior air quality, processes occurring inside the building, and building materials. IAQ can have drastic effects on its inhabitants.
“How can we circulate air from the inside of an interior environment instead of the outside?”
Most HVAC systems rely on using external air as a supply. However, sometimes the ambient air is too polluted or hot for practical use. To work around this, we can use air from the interior environment as the feedstock. This Air Recirculation is very useful in Summer months when temperatures are much higher and air quality is much lower.
How Extreme Weather Events Can Cause Energy Prices to Skyrocket
“How can extreme weather events cause energy prices to go out of whack?”
When the weather gets too hot or too cold, people will turn on HVAC systems to compensate. This will cause greater demand on the electricity system, which in turn will lead to more constraints and therefore higher costs for everyone. This is How Extreme Weather Events Can Cause Energy Prices to Skyrocket. The advent of climate change will only exacerbate this, as extreme weather events will become far more frequent. So in the end, it will pay in the long term to upgrade critical infrastructure systems to more resilient standards.
Image credit Bigerna, S. (2018). Estimating temperature effects on the Italian electricity market. Energy Policy, 118, 257-269.
“How can we make a building that uses no energy?”
Net zero energy usage in buildings can mean two things. Either all of the energy consumed by the building is met through self-generation or the building itself uses no energy! The latter is the foundational idea behind Passive Buildings. Passive buildings are edifices that obtain all of their heating and lighting through natural means. This means that such buildings have lots of large windows to let natural sunlight in, are superinsulated, and employ passive solar design. Therefore, these buildings can skip the need for complex lighting and HVAC. Passive buildings are amazing to experience and should be enjoyed by everyone in my opinion.
Solar Water Heating
“How can we warm our homes using solar energy?”
Solar panels are famous for providing clean and cheap energy. However, that’s not the only thing they can give. A typical solar panel will convert 14% of the energy it receives from the sun into electricity, while the rest is dissipated as heat. This extra heat can be used to heat incoming air which can then be funneled down a vent into an energy transfer module which not only warms a building’s water supply but also provides nice filtered air to the interior space. This system is known as Solar Water Heating and is one of the most exciting technologies in development.
Transformer Cooling Tubes
“How can we cool the oil in a transformer?”
Transformer oil is vital for winding insulation. However, in order for optimal performance, it must be kept at a cool temperature. So how can we use our engineering mindset to accomplish this? Well, what if we were to simply have the transformer oil circulate in tubes near a cooling source? This is the idea behind Transformer Cooling Tubes and is a staple of transformers in the world.