We were transported around the world during an Ignite session at WREF 2012 that featured case studies for making buildings efficient in different climates. The audience was taken on a journey to climate extremes from the muggy island climate of Cuba to the hot and arid desert climate of Iraq. It was quite the whirl-wind tour with other stops in Taiwan, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Each climate has its own unique challenges for keeping a building heated and cooled properly for its occupants throughout the year.
Our journey started out in Cuba where Professor Dania Gonzalez Couret explained that since the social revolution in the 1950’s, Cuba has been working towards social equality for all of its citizens. Part of this social equality is building a sustainable environment by focusing on:
- Energy efficiency in Cuban structures with the use of efficient appliances
- The encouragement of bicycle use in the urban corridor, and
- The study of building ventilation and cooling techniques without the use of air-conditioning.
After Cuba we moved onto cost-effective international energy improvements for buildings in mild or hot climates. Members from Appalachian State University studied the energy efficiency of multifamily housing in Mexico and Taiwan. They completed energy audits on typical multifamily housing and compared the results with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) specifications. The team of researchers then calculated the energy expense of the current housing as well as how much could be saved if multifamily homes in both countries would be brought up to IECC standards. Needless to say bringing up any structure to IECC standards will save a lot of money on energy costs.
Next we traveled to Iraq for two presentations. The first one, by Dr Kamil Yousif, was a study on how well solar window film screens blocked out ultraviolet radiation as well as reduced solar heat gain. Dr. Yousif proved without a doubt that window film could decrease cooling costs by about $50 per year. In addition, the payback period is a mere 1.5 years. The second presentation was from Dr Ghanim Kadhem Abdul Sada. He studied the effect of a water spray roof system and found that by keeping the flat Iraqi roofs wet with just a minimal amount of water, there was a reduction in temperature inside the structure. This contributed to a decrease in the amount of air-conditioning needed throughout the day.
We’re thankful that these academics traveled from all over the globe to share their stories on energy efficiency methods within their own climates. What are the energy efficiency methods that are unique to your culture and climate?