Melting Walls to Reduce Air Conditioning
We at RESSAC are always on the lookout for new an upcoming technologies which will change our industry. Some make our work easier, some make equipment more efficient, and some change the face of our business all together. It is this last type of change which I have been pondering more frequently lately. The pace of technological discovery is accelerating and with each new invention I see the need for refrigeration and air conditioning as we currently know it to be obsolete for many regions of California within the next 30 years. Here’s just one example from MIT technology review last week:
Smart. Now I don’t know how hard it’s going to be to produce these walls but basically one of the main issues in California, especially along the coastal towns like Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and Manhattan Beach is not the unbearable heat but the unbearable construction practices which make a few weeks of hot weather a major annoyance for residential and commerical occupants alike. This is because buildings of 50 years ago used to be constructed with much more mass. Mass absorbes heat and serves as a buffer for swings in temperature. It may get up to 90 degrees occassionally in Palos Verdes but every night that nice cool sebreeze comes in and you are bound to get the temperature back down to at least 65 degrees. The buildings of old would take advantage of this temperature swing by letting the cool air in at night. All the mass in the building would absorb and store that cool air. When the day came you would close the building up and let that mass keep you cool all day even when the air outside was hot.
Unfortunately, technology sometimes makes us lazy. The advent of the air conditioner allowed contractors to skimp on all that mass. Now our houses and offices are paper thin. There’s no mass to even out the temperature swings and so we become even more dependent upon air conditioners and heaters.
Of course I’d hate to see us lose all that business but with the cost of energy rising and the price we are paying in environmental degradation becoming more evident, these changes are happening whether or not we like it. We for one say embrace the change, let the walls melt! And throw whatever technology you can at us. Of course RESSAC will have to recreate itself over time but that is life in an age of incredible technological and economic progress.