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The oldest air conditioning system in the world could help

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ADVANCED SCIENCE NEWS suggesting that the oldest air conditioning system in the world could help show how much Modern Life became so disconnected from Nature. To the point where it’s hard to comprehend how much good, nature does for our well-being.

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Oldest air conditioning system in the world could help meet sustainable development goals

By Ana Tejero González

8 December 2021

Evaporative cooling systems use a fraction of the energy and could be used together with conventional air conditioners to tackle energy demands.

Evaporative cooling is one of the oldest solutions humankind has used to achieve comfort in hot climates. For thousands of years, different strategies have been developed that take advantage of the cooling effect that occurs when water evaporates into the surrounding air — this can be observed in nature where temperatures are generally cooler near bodies of water, rain cools the atmosphere, and sweat cools our bodies as it evaporates from the skin.

Since evaporative cooling improves with higher air temperatures and lower humidity because air admits more evaporated water, it comes as no surprise that the first traces of its use were found in civilizations located in hot and arid climates, such as Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, and the medieval Islamic civilizations. Examples of this “technology” can also be found in traditional architectural designs all over the world.

However, when current, conventional air conditioning devices were invented in the early 1900s, these traditional cooling strategies were set aside. Today, we look back to this natural phenomenon that can achieve efficiency ratios above ten — that is to say, they provide more than ten times the amount of cooling than the energy required to operate them — while conventional air conditioning devices barely reach efficiency ratios of three.

If the world is to remain on track to meet sustainability goals, part of this strategy needs to look at reducing energy demand as we make a transition to renewable energy alternatives. As global temperatures continue to rise, once overlooked technology, evaporative cooling could help minimize the impact of cooling systems.

How is evaporative cooling applied today?

Today, many technologies apply this phenomenon during hot seasons, with direct evaporative cooling systems being the most widely used as they evaporate water directly into the air, they do not only cool the air but also increase humidity. Because humidification may or may not be desirable, other more advanced technologies, called indirect evaporative cooling, avoid it by allowing water evaporation in an auxiliary airstream, which then is used to cool the air that has to be conditioned.

To do this effectively, these systems need to enhance air-water contact: through water spraying, such as fog systems, or from wetted surfaces, called evaporative cooling pads. The former can be applied in outdoor spaces, while, the latter requires air to be forced through the wetted media. The application of either depends on the situation for their use.

An interesting alternative to conventional wetted media is the use of vegetable surfaces or active living walls. Air is cooled and humidified as it passes through plants arranged on vertical surfaces. These are an ecological air conditioning system that also “biofilter” the air.

Evaporative cooling can be more efficient than conventional air conditioning

Evaporative cooling systems are cheap and have very low energy requirements to operate — only requiring a pump that supplies the water and a fan that drives the air. Consequently, they are the most common air conditioning solution in “high volume” spaces such as farms, greenhouses, industrial buildings, and outdoor spaces where conventional air conditioning systems would not be feasible. In hot and dry regions, where outdoor air temperature can exceed 40⁰C and relative humidity falls below 40%, evaporative cooling systems can cool air temperatures to less than 10⁰C of the outdoor air temperature with almost no energy consumption.

If evaporative cooling technologies are so energy efficient, why do not they replace conventional air conditioning?

Their main limitation is its dependence on air conditions; in humid climates, the amount of water that can evaporate within the air decreases, hence limiting its cooling effect. In very hot conditions, evaporative cooling performs well, but may be insufficient to achieve acceptable indoor temperatures, or may result in excessive indoor humidity.

But the alternative, conventional air conditioning systems, perform worse under harsh climate conditions and require excessive energy in humid climates, as it is partially consumed for dehumidification.

The idea here is not to necessarily replace one with the other, but perhaps a combination of the two seems to be a prospective solution. Evaporative cooling, for example, could improve the performance of conventional air conditioning systems if used to precool the outdoor air where the former dissipates heat, improving their efficiency ratios.

In a warming world, innovative solutions such as this are desperately needed.

Written by: Ana Tejero González and Antonio Franco Salas

Reference: Ana Tejero-González and Antonio Franco-Salas Direct evaporative cooling from wetted surface: challenges for a clean air conditioning solution, WIREs Energy and Environment (2021). DOI: 10.1002/wene.423

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Lebanese architect offering an innovative approach to sustainable design

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The Lebanese architect offering an innovative approach to sustainable design is about how Lina Ghotmeh has caught the attention of Dezeen Awards for her building Stone Garden in Beirut. The story is by Lemma Shehadi in The National.

Architect Lina Ghotmeh. Hannah Assouline

For Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh, sustainable architecture should come from the ground of the city. “We need architecture that is anchored in its place and climate, not as an object that creates its own environment,” she tells The National. “I’m always relating the building back to traces of the past. I learn about the vernacular architecture and its relationship to the climate, and how to project that into the future”.

Her approach, which she has termed an “archaeology of the future”, has caught the attention of the architectural world, as well as Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Within a month, Ghotmeh, 41, who lives in Paris, won two major architectural prizes. Last week, her Stone Garden building in Beirut was named Architecture Project of the Year at the Dezeen Awards 2021.

The discrete and slender concrete tower with residential flats was designed to fit the urban make-up of the city, while echoing layers of its history. “Stone Garden whispers the memory of Beirut, its history, its ground. It tries to offer an alternative way of constructing at height in a Mediterranean city and in a hot climate,” she says.

A facade of sand-coloured mortar with hand-chiselled lines evokes the eroded surface of Beirut’s prehistoric Pigeon Rocks on the city’s shores. Their immaculate straightness appears at once futuristic and organic. “The facade was combed as we comb the earth before planting, as a body emerging and narrating the city,” says Ghotmeh.

Yet these lines are also a nod to craft and its potential for sustainable construction. “The power of the hand is presented as an act of healing. When we build by hand, we are more aware of the impact that we may have on the environment,” she explains.

Meanwhile, the building’s open terraces and urban gardens mimic the city’s scars from the civil war. “They transform the scars into moments of life,” she says, “Large windows play along the elevation of the envelope, they open to the city and house lush gardens, bringing nature at the heart of residences.”

The Stone Garden is a discrete and slender concrete tower with residential flats and gardens. Photo: Laurian Ghinitoiu / Lina Ghotmeh 

The award’s jury praised the building’s “remarkable freshness and power”. They said: “This project is really poetic − it is talking about memory architecture, which is a hard thing to do in a multi-dwelling project. It is going to give a new platform for a seed of ideas in Lebanon.”

And that’s not all. Since 2016, Ghotmeh has been among the architects involved in Hidalgo’s project Reinventer Paris, which aims to transform the city into the first green capital of its kind. For this, Ghotmeh will be designing a wooden tower that hosts a sustainable feeding programme in the district of Massena.

“Ghotmeh is present in the debate about the future of the city,” says architecture critic Kaye Geipel, who was a jury for the Schelling Architecture Prize 2020, which was awarded to Ghotmeh in November for her contributions to the field of architecture. “[She is] a weighty voice in the large-scale project of Mayor Hidalgo, who wants to make Paris a green capital and exemplary for France and Europe”.

Ghotmeh explains that her design approach stems from her upbringing in Beirut. “The city was like an open archaeology, it was always unveiling itself,” she says, “It made me think about our relationship with our ancestors, and the hidden cities that exist beneath us, but also the question of the ground.”

The unique pointed structure of the Stone Garden. Photo: Iwan Baan / Lina Ghotmeh

“In the past we thought about buildings as independent environments, climatised and full of glass that just sit there and ignore what’s around them,” she explains. “They could consume as much as they want. They don’t wear the traditions of their place. This is not sustainable, or durable or circular”.

When Ghotmeh began designing the Stone Garden in 2010, Beirut was a different place. “There was this beautiful creative community of designers, fashion designers, architects and chefs. It was a fertile and positive moment. The city’s identity had been developing with the works and voices of many artists and activists,” she recalls.

But today, the entire country is plagued by political deadlock and economic crises. Two of Ghotmeh’s projects in Lebanon, which includes a museum in the Bekaa Valley, have been put on hold. “The failed political system has been suppressing the extraordinary spirit of this city,” she says, “I remain hopeful that change will be possible towards a more just society and environment.”

A rendering of Lina Ghotmeh’s Hermes project. Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture

Nonetheless, a string of projects in France can further push her ideas on architecture and sustainability. She is working on a vast workshop building, called Precise Acts, for the luxury brand Hermes. “It is a low carbon, passive building that will be a benchmark in contributing into an ecological transition in France,” she says.

In the same vein, Ghotmeh is developing wooden housing for athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Her designs for the National Dance Centre in the city of Tours will explore the relationship between dance and architecture.READ MORE‘The Anatomy of Sabkhas’ shows the UAE’s salt flats are a cause worth fighting for

Yet her dream building, she says, would be a public space along the Beirut coastline that would serve as a universal playground for all ages.

“It would be a joyful public space. It’s a new typology for a museum in a way, that’s not about the collection, but rather the collection of relationships and community making,” Ghotmeh says. “I’m always excited to develop new typologies. How do you really build a public space that’s not just a piazza or the space between buildings, where people find joy?”

Updated: December 6th 2021

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Geospatial intelligence for infrastructure development to fight climate change

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How India can use geospatial intelligence for infrastructure development to fight climate change by Madhusudan Anand is a story that should be also common to those countries of the MENA region because there are certainly more similarities in The race to zero emissions, between the MENA region and India than differences.

Here are a few ways geospatial intelligence can be the catalyst for India’s smart status ambitions.

At the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, India promised to reach Net Zero by 2070 — essentially balancing the total carbon dioxide emissions with its elimination from the environment — called carbon neutrality.

However, India is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US, and the EU. The latter two have issued a commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050. 

Despite the incredible progress made towards sustainability across the country, India seems to be lagging on a global playing field when it comes to mass scale solutions.

Naturally, there’s a lot of expectations and hopes riding on the government’s initiatives, including on the recent PM Gati Shakti Master Plan, which aims to create holistic infrastructure across the country through the incorporation of a centralised geospatial data platform.

The Rs 100 lakh-crore initiative is envisioned to ensure transparency, standardisation, and most importantly, sustainability through efficiency.

The programme will bring together 16 central government agencies, including the Railways, Roads and Highways, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, Aviation, and more.

The overarching idea is that a smart city is sustainable — equipped to mitigate climate change’s effects by harnessing the power of technology. 

Geospatial knowledge can provide answers for most everyday problems, especially developing sustainable smart cities. Urban spaces contribute to around 80 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, they are also responsible for 80 percent of a country’s GDP.

With the intersection of artificial intelligence and geospatial data — including census data, satellite imagery, remote sensing, weather data, cell phone data, drawn images, and social media data — urban planning can be highly efficient and contribute to better living conditions both environmentally and financially.

Astoundingly, the market of geospatial analytics is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24 percent between 2020 and 2025.

Here are a few ways geospatial intelligence can be the catalyst for India’s smart status ambitions. 

Environmental repair 

Consumption of resources, energy, ecosystems, and transport directly impact climate change. Geospatial intelligence can help monitor emission sources through collaborative workflows that harness big data to arrive at efficient solutions.

Detailed maps can help evaluate the productivity of land to arrive at its habitable or agricultural status. GIS also makes it easy for civic authorities to balance nature with humans in urban cities to avoid unnecessary culling of green spaces and wildlife conservation. Moreover, it can monitor and correct pollution and noise levels accordingly. 

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Agricultural Development in Morocco Flourishes

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Today a Borgen snapshot article on how agricultural Development in Morocco Flourishes by Andre Silva would be a good example to follow by its neighbouring countries.

The above image is for illustration and is of Borgen Magazine WORLD NEWS

Photo: The High Atlas Foundation

WESTBURY, New York — The High Atlas Foundation is helping Morocco’s local communities determine how they choose to develop their land and grow out of poverty sustainably. Like those in the northern Atlas Mountains, Morocco’s most vulnerable communities have long suffered from water scarcity, shaky access to land and unregulated grazing rights. These hardships make it difficult for many individual planters to harvest profitable yields on their produce and further strain their labors. Also, their reliance on traditional and overplanted crops like barley, corn and dates deliver low profits. Additionally, they exasperate a low diversity of fruits and vegetables in the poorest of the nation’s regions. While Morocco’s red fruit production saw an increase of 84% last year, many of the nation’s poorest farmers were not included in the agricultural boom. Yet, one organization is working to reverse this in a new sustainable development model, improving agricultural development in Morocco.

The High Atlas Foundation

Peace Corps volunteers who served in Morocco founded The High Atlas Foundation in 2000. They committed themselves to sustainable development through several human development initiatives. These included sustainable agriculture, education, health and women’s empowerment. Working with local and international institutions, the High Atlas Foundation works to facilitate development through participatory planning.

The Borgen Project spoke with Dr. Yossef Ben Meir, The High Atlas Foundation’s Founder and President, in an interview to learn more about the High Atlas Foundation’s approach to sustainable development and advocacy. “I’m a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Morocco in the early 90s, and others, having gone through that two-year experience, were moved in terms of the severe life challenges of particularly rural communities,” said Dr. Yossef Ben Meir. “A number of us founders served in mountainous areas. I served in the south side of the High Atlas region.”

Agricultural Land Struggles

Unfortunately, 70% of agricultural land only generates 10 to 15% of agricultural revenue in rural regions, and 80% of arable lands are located in arid or semi-arid areas. Still, only 15 percent of the country’s lands are irrigated. Ben Meir says the dependence on the traditional subsistence approach to growing barley and corn keeps people down. He says the potential for waterborne diseases, high unemployment and a lack of access to basic government services is a barrier for rural families. The transition from barley and corn to more lucrative fruit trees and medicinal plants may have challenges.

“80% of rural incomes comes from agriculture,” said Ben Meir. “Most people who experience poverty in Morocco are in rural places and overcoming this dependency on or generational reliance on barley and corn. It’s one of many factors that have to be addressed in the agricultural value chain, but one of them is the generation of fruit trees so that farmers and farming families can make that transition.”

Steps Taken

Most recently, the foundation is taking several steps to foster deals to reallocate government land and organize a community-based approach to fruit tree planting, aiding agricultural development in Morocco. Today Ben Meir and his teams help manage 13 tree nurseries that care for over 1.6 million saplings. He says a modest investment into the way planters harvest their crops can profoundly impact people’s lives. It allows more locals to better participate in the local economy.

“It’s also the exposure that we had to community planning,” said Ben Meir. “The beneficiaries of the projects when they determine the project design and form and location and what it is and how it will be managed and evaluated when they’re in control of it, it has a longer life and sustainability if you will.”

Ben Meir says these experiences embody the foundation’s original mission to facilitate participatory community planning towards development initiatives. In this sense, local communities play a crucial role when creating and implementing a project. The foundation uses a process called Imagine, a four-day or 32-hour program of personal and group introspection. Afterward, multiple sessions focus on the community planning of projects. They then implement development initiatives requiring accelerating revenue streams and beneficiaries. For example, the monitoring and certifying of trees to generate carbon offset credits. They can commercialize and reinvest in their projects. Teams like these allow the foundation to generate enough revenue to be financially stable alongside other advocacy efforts.

Sustainable Projects

The High Atlas Foundation understands the importance of creating sustainability projects. For instance, technology like renewable solar pumps helps power the 13 nurseries, facilitating a zero-waste version of sustainability. Ben Meir says the foundation takes zero waste extremely seriously, not only in terms of energy but also in biomass. For example, something as simple as renewing wasted walnut shells could further progress the foundation’s goal.

Recently The High Atlas Foundation implemented the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Morocco. The program helps create opportunities for cooperatives along the agricultural value-chain by using local and U.S. experts, improving agricultural development in Morocco. Additionally, it created the Religious and Ethnic Communities project, an interfaith community organization that shares stories and narratives that capture the human experience of intercultural exchange and interfaith relationships. Ben Meir says these experiences are an inescapable aspect of Moroccan history and life. Alongside their development projects, they can pave the way for interfaith and intercultural narratives to flourish like their trees.

Urgent Priorities for Transforming Infrastructure

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‘A New Space Race’ report highlights urgent priorities for transforming infrastructure by Jayne Smith encompasses all that is required from all humans to safeguard a future. It has notably confirmed that “reducing carbon emissions, enabling future working models, and providing its potential to play a more active role in the health and well-being of people” is absolutely vital.

The image above is for illustration and is of the IEA on Net Zero by 2050.

A new research report released by Siemens Smart Infrastructure, titled ‘A New Space Race,’ has highlighted the increasingly urgent need to transform global infrastructure to focus on adaptability, resiliency and decarbonisation. Data from the report claims infrastructure leaders worldwide recognise the need for digitalisation to tackle challenges in energy systems and the built environment.

“Infrastructure stakeholders are starting to act with real urgency. They recognise the need to accelerate decarbonisation, to build greater resilience and adaptability, while maintaining competitiveness,” said Matthias Rebellius, CEO, Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “Major change is challenging, but our highest goals are possible if we harness the power of data and new technologies, welcome greater cooperation and keep driving innovation.”

Based on interviews with 500 senior managers from a range of infrastructure disciplines in 10 countries, the report highlights changing priorities in a post-pandemic world. Among its findings is an increasing focus on the role of infrastructure in driving a digitalised energy transition, reducing carbon emissions, enabling future working models, and its potential to play a more active role in the health and wellbeing of people.

Digitalisation as an enabler for decarbonising infrastructure

The report suggests a significant rise in the number of organisations setting low-carbon or net-zero targets, and most respondents are optimistic about these goals, with the majority (94 percent) expecting their organisations to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“Buildings will be a lot more digital in the future”

67 percent of energy infrastructure stakeholders believe that net zero energy is impossible without digitalisation, with AI-driven prediction and automation considered to have the biggest impact on infrastructure assets, projects, and investments over the next five years.

However, the majority (63 percent) of infrastructure stakeholders believe the digitalisation of buildings and power networks is lagging behind digital progress in other industries. Only 31 percent of those questioned said they make full use of the data available to them, with almost half reporting they have not yet done so.

Future adaptability is the most important requirement for buildings

In addition to the impact of infrastructure on the environment, the report also highlights the changing needs and expectations of people in their buildings, factories, facilities, offices, homes and surrounding infrastructure. It claims that for many, adaptability is considered the most critical factor when designing a new building or facility, to allow the re-purposing of spaces to suit changing occupants. Not only was this considered the most important thing to get right; it was also considered the most difficult.

“Buildings will be a lot more digital in the future,” said Rebellius. “A facility manager will not only be able to automate, and remotely control more functionality, they will also benefit from a wider network of better sensors that flow into integrated visualisations and richer datasets. This will support a new level of fine-grained control and insights that are needed to make future buildings more resilient and flexible.”

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Read more on: EnvironmentNewsTechnology

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