With record temperatures blanketing much of the country this summer, the nation’s air-conditioners have been cranked up and running in high gear. According to Live Science, this is bad news for the environment, as it means more carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. Currently, air conditioning represents 15.5% of all residential energy bills, creating a carbon footprint of about 6,600 pounds CO2 a year.
Is there a way to break this vicious cycle without losing our cool? Our trend-spotters here at EarthTechling say ‘yes,’ based on a number of promising green tech stories we’ve covered over the past year. With solutions ranging from increased efficiency conventional AC to solar-based and seawater cooling for buildings, these are the cutting-edge innovations on the horizon that may spell the future of cool.
For hot urban areas located on the coasts, seawater represents a cool new approach to removing heat from indoor air. This is an approach being pioneered on a large scale by Honolulu’s new seawater air conditioning project. By using frigid seawater, pumped in from far below the surface of the ocean and delivered to specially-designed air-conditioning units in the city’s municipal buildings downtown, Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning expects to help the city cut its AC electric usage by 75%, while also substantially lowering the use of harmful and ozone depleting refrigerants. Later, warmed water will be dumped back into the sea, at a location where it will poses “minimum risk to nearby aquatic life.” By 2012, 40 buildings in downtown Honolulu are expected to be cooled by seawater air conditioning.