How To Heat-Proof Our Cities For The Future

Extreme humidity combined with rising heat levels hitting 50, or 60 degree Celsius will render the Persian Gulf uninhabitable by the close of the century, predicts new research published in the monthly Nature Climate Change journal.

According to the report, our current building thermal adaptation will eventually prove inadequate to handle the ever increasing heat in certain regions across the globe.

So what are the possible solutions? Do humans have a future living in the hottest places on earth?

5 Climate Based Solutions

1. Intelligent materials which reflect heat-gain are already in existence, coated onto building exteriors world-wide, but in the future these smart materials may come to be used in an ever increasing amount of global construction projects if heat levels keep rising.

2. Solar electricity is in wide abundance and with efficient storage systems would prove the perfect clean and easily replenish-able energy source. 

3. ‘Thermal mass’ methods could be used to even-out day-to-night temperature fluctuations.

4. Old ideas with a new twist could become popular again, such as: small windowed structures consisting of thick, tough walls made from newer materials such as composites and/or phase change materials, layered with insulation to provide thermal stability.

5. Cities will need to be cleverly designed to maximise protection from the elements. Streets would optimise shade and a great deal of thought and planning would need to be put into the spaces between buildings. Underground spaces and passageways complementing the adjoining aboveground region would also need to be considered along with what shops and services are best. Submerged shopping centres could be used to link city areas amidst so many more design ideas.

Going Underground

Air-Conditioning Boom

Super resilient, heavy duty air-conditioners will need to be designed and built to handle keeping entire structures cool and functioning.

Current thermodynamic air conditioning designs will not be able to handle such extreme temperatures so one idea would be to use the Earth’s seas and rivers as ‘heat-sinks’ to absorb the rising temperatures as the seas and rivers are at lower temperatures compared to the external air. However, there may be long term effects which are not determinable yet.

Evening temperatures allow more efficient cooling-down of structures, so buildings might need to be chilled-down at night, pre-cooling them for the morning.

No Easy Solution

Smart city infrastructure planning doesn’t happen overnight, preparation, planning and research are key. If cities in certain hotspots are under threat of heating up then the problem needs to be looked into and steps taken now. 


This article was originally published on EngineerJobs.com.au