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Can extreme heat be managed by designing better homes?

As the world temperature rises, so does the likelihood of temperature anomalies, resulting in earlier and longer heatwaves.

By palaktripathi
New Update
heat resistant house designs

We live in a warming world. As the world temperature rises, so does the likelihood of temperature anomalies, resulting in earlier and longer heatwaves. On all inhabited continents today, heat waves are a common problem that creates a wide range of dangers to human lives and well-being. Especially in urban areas, where heat exposure is amplified by constructed environments. By 2050, it is anticipated that about 70% of the world's population will reside in cities, where they would be subjected to intense heat.

Read more: Heatwaves

Urban heat islands

Temperatures in cities tend to be hotter than in the surrounding countryside due to the prevalence of surfaces that retain heat and release it slowly. This is called the Urban Heat Island Effect. Structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies.

Read more: Manage and Adapt to Heat in the City

World Meteorological Organization
Source: World Meteorological Organization

Urban regions, where these constructions are heavily concentrated and there are little greenery, experience "islands" of hotter weather than rural areas.

Traditional building materials in cities like red bricks and cement are materials that are known to absorb heat and increase the temperature in surrounding areas. Cooling systems also add to the problem as they are electricity intensive and use greenhouse gasses like HFCs. Hence, there is an urgent need to rethink structures where one resides and works. Especially, for poor neighborhoods where they are more likely to be affected by the ever-rising temperatures & related health problems.

Read more here: 7 ways to reduce the urban heat island effect

Better structures can reduce heat waves

Architecture needs to evolve as many structures need to be built around the fact that the earth is getting warmer. Globally architects are developing strategies to combat rising temperatures and more frequent heat waves. New materials, advanced heat modeling techniques, unique tackling plans, and design plans that will withstand the test of time. Furthermore, sustain even when temperatures hit unexpected highs, our homes and buildings will be able to stay cool without using much energy.

Read more here: Alternatives ways of housing beyond bricks, & cement, a list!

Hence, these additional methods can provide holistic environmental solutions for the future of the construction industry.

Bio-climatic Architecture 

The first rule of bioclimatic architecture is to take advantage of local bioclimatic conditions with the benefit of the natural and built environment. It looks to design a more energy-efficient building. This is done by reducing the amount of energy required in structures like lightning, heating, running appliances, and others. This can be achieved by using smart appliances and advanced technology like solar panels for efficient use of natural resources.

School of the Arts, Singapore
School of the Arts, Singapore | Courtesy: Katmorro. via Wikimedia Commons

Bioclimatic architecture also encourages using naturally growing plants to become part of the design of the home in the form of green roofs and green walls. The plants become natural insulators and also cool the air surrounding homes.

Read more: Get Set: 9 Architecturally Relevant Exhibitions at the 2022 Dutch Design Week

Different types of shade are also a very important part of this, as the wrong material can significantly increase the temperature inside a building. For instance, direct heat on glass windows can increase temperatures inside homes. Instead, people can experiment with traditional shades built in hot countries like pergolas, colonnades, or tree canopies over a street. 

The concept of passive cooling is also huge in bioclimatic architecture. It involves new innovations in the field of air conditioning. In addition, ventilation can change how air cooling is approached in the future. 

Read more: 5 sustainable solutions to help tackle extreme heat in South Asia

The residential industry consumes a lot of energy. Thus, it is crucial to research and put into practice new and innovative technologies. Technologies like bioclimatic architecture aid in lowering energy usage and managing extreme heat.

It is also essential for all stakeholders like the government, construction companies, architects, and so on to work together to solve this problem.

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