In Conroe, a suburb of Houston, architecture company Modu and climate-focused engineering company Transsolar have teamed up to create an innovative building design that keeps itself cool without air conditioning.
The 14,000-square-foot building, which was recently completed and will be home to stores and medical spaces in the near future, features concrete walls with deep grooves that move heat away from the building by providing more surface area for the building, according to Fast Company. Tests showed that the ridged pattern kept the wall 18 degrees cooler than a comparable traditional flat wall in the same location.
The walls also use a dirt-repelling white paint that reflects sunlight to further enhance their cooling capabilities.
Finding ways to keep buildings and their occupants cool is a vital practice as the planet continues to dangerously overheat. Though air conditioning offers tempting — and often crucial — short-term comforts, it does more harm than good in the long run, as AC units are designed to pump hot air from indoors to outdoors, thus increasing the external temperature, according to Euronews.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that the energy used to run air conditioners creates almost 2 billion tons of carbon pollution annually worldwide, which is more than the global airline industry emits.
“We are trying to find solutions for the social dependency on air conditioning,” Rachely Rotem, the cofounder of Modu, told Fast Company.
“In a way, the wall is working a bit like a very large radiator,” Modu founding director Phu Hoang told the outlet. “We always have passive energy design strategies that we incorporate with the overall idea of reducing energy use.”
The effectiveness of the innovative wall designs has already been noted. “In Texas right now, we’re in triple-digit heat,” said the building’s owner, Anh Gip. “I haven’t run the air conditioning at all. But when I walk inside the building, it feels cooler.”
Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.