+44 01483 457477

The oldest air conditioning system in the world could help

Advertisements

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.

.

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

.

Critics claim Qatar’s sustainable 2022 stadium is just ‘PR’

Advertisements

Critics claim Qatar’s sustainable 2022 stadium is just ‘PR’ by Nikolaus J. Kurmayer of EURACTIV.de would not be a slightly out of control criticism but a serious snapshot of our life of today. This can be summarised in a few words such as: should we build more and more of these sports infrastructure.

30 November 2021

The above image is for illustration and is of EURACTIV.com.

The new modular stadium 974 built for the 2022 Qatar world cup may solve some of the issues associated with world cup venue construction: empty unused stadiums left behind. [dezeen/Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy]

As Football comes under pressure to go carbon neutral, one major source of emissions remains the stadiums that need to be built for every world cup, something Qatar seeks to address. But critics remain unconvinced that supposedly sustainable stadiums are enough to tackle the issue.

A big part of the 3.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas equivalent emissions associated with the 2022 Qatar world cup counted by FIFA stems from what the report describes as “permanent construction of venues”.

Some 639,482 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions would be emitted during the preparatory phase of the world cup during venue construction, FIFA notes.

As a result, Qatar proudly presented stadium 974 to the world on 26 November. Made from recycled shipping containers, the stadium is named after the number of containers used and its Qatari area code.

The design, based on prefabricated modular elements, reduced the waste generated during production and on-site during construction, say the owners.

The use of modular elements also reduced the venue’s construction duration, they added.

Considering the 6,500 deaths of migrant workers in Qatar since the country won its bid to host the world championship in 2010, as reported by the Guardian in February 2021, speeding up construction may be conducive to preventing more deaths.

According to the organiser, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), 34 migrant workers died on World Cup construction sites during the aforementioned period. 

The committee says it is transparent about these figures and doubts other “misleading” reports on the number of deaths.

The greenwashing issue

Aside from the human rights concerns and the deaths of primarily Pakistani migrant workers, environmental activists are also concerned that the new stadium may be one big greenwashing exercise.

The stadium, built from recycled materials and will be dismantled at the end of the world cup, boasts a modular design, allowing it to be disassembled and turned into multiple smaller stadiums or scraped easily.

“If you look at all the criticism for all of the big stadiums created around the world — and nobody uses them later on — this is, well, it’s useful,” Zeina Khalil Hajj, of 350, a global climate protection NGO, told Deutsche Welle

Yet, the innovative sea-side stadium, which can forego cooling due to its construction and location, is just one of eight massive stadiums Qatar built for the 2022 world cup.

“It doesn’t mean they are the biggest culprit in the world. It just means that they have a duty,” Hajj told DW. “They have a responsibility as a rich nation. They have to contribute. And that means they have to change their domestic consumption pattern.”

Residents of Qatar have some of the largest per capita carbon footprints due to their oil-based economy in a relatively inhospitable environment necessitating artificial cooling.

Instead of tackling the systemic challenges to their society, “What they’re doing instead is all this ‘PR machine’,” added Haji.

Despite all the smart design the Qatari SC employs to cut emissions and make the world cup as carbon-neutral as possible, critics are worried about their reliance on carbon offsets.

To achieve the SC’s pledge “to measure, mitigate and offset all FIFA World Cup 2022 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” will ultimately require a massive amount of so-called carbon offsets, as a majority of emissions from air travel and venue construction are challenging to abate.

Offsetting “unavoidable emissions” by planting a million trees, as Qatar has pledged, rather than using solar power or wind energy to cool stadiums is not what Phillip Sommer, of environmental action Germany, would call sustainable, he told DW.

Neither organisers like the SC nor “FIFA should therefore not rely on offsets, but on direct investments in solar or wind power, and tie conditions for venues to the climate footprint of member countries,” Michael Bloss, Greens EU lawmaker, told EURACTIV.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

.

If Qatar can silence critics with a strong tournament

Advertisements

Hosting the World Cup is what many countries dream of, but hosting does not come without its drawbacks. It is a very costly event with no guarantees on economic return.

Any country that hosts the World Cup must meet strict infrastructure requirements, amongst many other standards required by all. These minimum requirements include criteria for all infrastructures, stadiums, hotels, transit, and communications and electrical grids. Despite all that is allowed by the accumulated petrodollars, fans could face accommodation shortages.  

For that, Qatar will make a newly built and yet to be completed City in the Desert available for the event. Meanwhile, here is another aspect of the fothcoming tournament.

.

World Cup 2022: if Qatar can silence critics with a strong tournament, an Olympic bid could be next

By Leon Davis, Teesside University and Dan Plumley, Sheffield Hallam University

The above image is for illustration and is of beIN SPORTS.

A prize for the taking. Shutterstock/fifg

When FIFA picked Qatar as the first Middle Eastern country to host the men’s football World Cup in 2022, some considered it a bold gamble. Others thought it was a mistake – including former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Since then, controversy has never been far from a mega-event which is now less than a year away. Aside from allegations of bribery during the bidding process, there have been serious concerns raised about human rights, with particular focus on the migrant workers building the new stadia.

Whether these issues will ultimately dissuade supporters from travelling to Qatar in late 2022 remains to be seen. The organisers will certainly not want a repeat of what happened when Qatar hosted the IAAF World Athletics Championships of 2019, which took place in half empty stadia.

Football has more global appeal than athletics, of course, and so far both Qatar and FIFA remain bullish that millions of fans will travel to the Gulf from all over the world. The event is certainly “unique” in sport event terms and that may drive fan interest. No expense has been spared by Qatar to deliver this unique experience, that is for sure. They have certainly spent big in the lead up to the tournament.

Even as early as 2010, estimates of the total cost for Qatar were in the region of US$65 billion (£48 billion) – a different level to the then record-breaking US$14 billion which Russia spent hosting the tournament in 2018. More recent reports, however, cite costs closer to US$300 billion.

The reason for such staggering sums is not just grandeur. The actual stadium costs, at around US$10 billion, are low in relation to the overall estimated total. The bulk of the money has been spent on infrastructure and transport projects in the country. Some of these were planned anyway, with the forthcoming tournament merely accelerating developments.

Different goals

There is also a bigger picture at play here. In many ways, it has never been about the money for Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world.

The primary gains Qatar is seeking are non-commercial, with international relations at their heart, and and an opportunity to introduce itself to billions of people across the world. This has led to accusations of “sportswashing”. This can be defined as using sporting events as a way of seeking legitimacy or improving reputations and has been used in the context of Qatar 2022 given the controversies cited above.

Despite the negative press, Qatar will be encouraged by its latest foray into major international sporting events, including the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in Formula One. The race was the first of a three-part Middle-East finale to the F1 season which also includes races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. This could help place Qatar on a comparable level to its Arab neighbours in another very marketable sport.

Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar. EPA-EFE/ NOUSHAD THEKKAYIL

Events like these, alongside the 2022 men’s World Cup, are designed to provide a legacy both socially and culturally – a legacy which creates national identity and places Qatar as a legitimate actor on the world stage.

Yet although money may be no object to the hosts, one organisation hoping to make some is FIFA. Their entire business model is geared around a successful World Cup. Russia 2018 helped FIFA to generate record revenues of US$6.4 billion, much of which is spent on “education and development”, and it will be hoping for similar takings from Qatar 2022. In the same way, FIFA’s (widely condemned) proposals to hold the tournament every two years are largely driven by the desire for more income.

So while the goals for Qatar and FIFA are different, both parties need the rest of the world to play ball. It’s worth bearing in mind that to make this happen, the majority of men’s domestic professional football leagues have altered their schedules to allow the 2022 competition to be staged, for the first time ever, in the months of November and December.

If the timing works, and Qatar’s non-commercial plans are achieved, it will then surely aim to become a regular major player in the sports event hosting market – so expect to see a bid to host a future Olympic Games. Money again here will be no object. Qatar will no doubt put on a show for the World Cup. A show that it hopes the rest of the world will be watching.

Leon Davis, Senior Lecturer in Events Management, Teesside University and Dan Plumley, Senior Lecturer in Sport Finance, Sheffield Hallam University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

.

.

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan

Advertisements

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan as per Climate-KIC should be considered a leader by example, be extended and therefore generalised to the neighbouring regions, i.e. the MENA countries. Mainly for better consequent outcome, if only, in the concerned region in this article.

The region’s climate action plan has been announced, with the Forging Resilience in Andalusia project, a chapter of the EIT Climate-KIC Deep Demonstration Resilient Regions programme, bringing much to the process. 

Andalusia is the southernmost region of Spain. Covering 800 kilometres of coastline, it’s a region famed for its sunshine, beaches, rugged mountains, tourism and agricultural history.

Andalusia is less-known for its ambition to be a world leader in resilience and adaptation; a goal partly borne from necessity because, due to its geographical and climatic conditions, Andalusia is witnessing the worsening impacts of climate change on its territory.

The region is experiencing an increasing number of droughts and wildfires, and oppressive heatwaves during the summer months. In September, the region was hit with destructive flooding, with over 11cm of rain falling in Huelva in just one hour.

Mitigation and adaptation to climate change have consequently been priorities for the Andalusian Government, and on October 13th the Governing Council approved the Andalusian Climate Action Plan 2030 (PAAC 2030), making Andalusia the first Spanish community to approve plans in line with the new state law on climate change.

Risks and forging resilience 

The Forging Resilience in Andalusia project, or Forjando Resiliencia en Andalucía, is co-financed by EIT Climate-KIC and part of the Deep Demonstration Resilient Regions programme. The programme contributed to the PAAC 2030 process by developing sectoral and multisectoral workshops in 2020 which collectively assessed the different climate risks in Andalusia, and co-designed a portfolio of actions for resilience and adaptation.

Identifying the dangers, impacts and vulnerabilities of climate change impacts on areas, and prioritising specific risks that need to be addressed in different regional environments, is a critical part of building resilience and will ultimately enable local and regional communities to better manage shocks and stresses caused by climate change.

The results of the sectoral workshops were analysed, and a series of preliminary conclusions were drawn up, with the main vulnerabilities identified based on the demand and availability of water. Extraction of water from aquifers, extraction wells, water reserves and lack of water were all highlighted in the PAAC chapter focusing on adaptation, which drew on the conclusions of the workshop. Other risks mentioned included intense rainfall, increasing sea levels and subsequent erosion, and extreme weather events like floods and heat waves, plus the knock-on potential social impacts of all these events, like unemployment or depopulation.

But with vulnerabilities differing right down to the provincial level, the local aspect cannot be overlooked”, said Maria Lopez Sanchís from General Directorate of Environmental Quality and Climate Change, Junta de Andalucia.

Our process also identified hazards and impacts taking into account territorial differences,” said Lopez Sanchís. “This will be more relevant in the different operational programmes of the PAAC, because the plan urges different areas to incorporate the territorial perspective in the risk assessments and definition of adaptation measures whenever possible. To build true resilience, we have to deeply consider geographical differences and the specific characteristics that determine the vulnerability of each territory’s exposure to climate hazards. Then we need to place special emphasis on the most vulnerable spaces.”

People power towards a better scenario  

The role of the workshops however wasn’t only to analyse the current risks, but also to look forward to how an ideal scenario for Andalusia could look. This meant identifying the levers of change that need to be engaged for that to be achieved and drawing up a roadmap of innovation options and portfolio priorities.

As well as analysing the current situation, we also carried out an exercise to determine the ideal climate change scenario,” said Lopez Sanchís. “We want to look to the future and identify the levers of change that will allow us to define the means by which we can achieve a more resilient Andalusia,” she said. Lopez Sanchís added that a number of the levers identified to help Andalusia reach this goal are included in the PAAC report, including ecosystem management and land-use planning, but also people-powered interventions like education and behavioural change.

In building this vision, citizen engagement is critical,” said Lopez Sanchís. “Through our different online workshops, we carried out a process of public participation aligned with the consultation and public exposure phase of the Andalusian Climate Action Plan.

Both formal and informal education, as well as behavioural change, and political, social, cultural and ecological decisions are all addressed in the new climate plan, as is the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, which means rethinking our ways of life, how we buy and what we consume.

“The people piece is recognised as one of the required ‘adaptation dimensions’ in order to achieve the adaptation objectives set by the PAAC,” said Lopez Sanchís. “To meet the challenge of climate change, and to build resilience and adapt, yes, we need to recognise and analyse the threats, but then we also need to take whole communities with us as we develop a roadmap of innovation that will enable us to survive and thrive. Only people can make the PAAC happen.”

EIT Climate-KIC is proud to be a partner of the UN High Level Champion’s Race to Resilience campaign, which is working to step-up global ambition for climate resilience in the run-up to COP26 and beyond. 

For more on the Race to Resilience partners and initiatives, or how to get involved, see here.

.

Sustainable construction must consider the whole business operation

Advertisements


Imagine a sustainable construction company: what do you picture? Luke Deamer provides an answer such as Sustainable construction must consider the whole business operation . . .

Luke Deamer

Often our first thought is to imagine a construction site. With COP26 now wrapped up, perhaps we think of zero emission piling rigs and construction equipment. Perhaps we picture innovative low carbon cements, or designs that make use of off-site construction. In fact, it can be easy to forget all the other operations of a construction company. Yet other parts of our businesses, such as HR and finance, have a big impact on sustainability. It’s time to start thinking outside of our projects.

There is still a lot of work to be done on site projects. But solely focusing sustainability improvements on site processes limits what we can achieve. Likewise, only focusing on environmental accreditations and innovations means we miss opportunities to improve social and economic sustainability. We need to think bigger. Every business function, from procurement to IT, has a role to play in improving sustainability.

This was the challenge addressed in a research collaboration between Keller and the University of Surrey’s Centre for Environment and Sustainability. Together, they assessed the sustainability of every process carried out across a construction company. This investigation covered everything from annual leave policies to the way piling rigs are washed down in maintenance yards. The results were surprising – it turns out nearly every process has an impact on sustainability.

Some of these impacts are more obvious than others. Take how HR processes impact social sustainability. It is probably no surprise that key processes impact employee education and diversity, equity and inclusion. But HR also has other impacts. For example, by controlling the company car scheme, HR can have a big impact on carbon emissions and air quality. Likewise, through managing subsistence allowances on site, HR have an impact on reducing hunger and improving the health of employees.

We see these same hidden impacts across other functions as well. As it turns out, many are of these impacts are positive. IT use firewalls to help prevent online discrimination and harassment. Procurement help reduce modern slavery in the supply chain through pre-qualifications and audits. Finance help cost out climate risks and opportunities, as well as planning for green capital expenditure. By diving into individual procedures, method statements and policies, we can reveal these additional sustainability impacts.

So, what does this mean for construction companies?

Firstly, we need to look outside our site projects. This means encouraging all functions to investigate and improve their own sustainability impacts. Across environmental, social and economic sustainability, functions are often surprised by what they can impact.

Secondly, once we know about these wider impacts, we need to capture them. Sustainability reporting shouldn’t be restricted to sites and maintenance yards. Likewise, companies shouldn’t stop at carbon or diversity reporting. As important as these metrics are, we impact far more areas of sustainability. There are great things going on already, we just need to make sure we record them.

Thirdly, we need to look at the process level. Too often, we just focus on pushing sustainability from the top-down. There is still a place for corporate targets and metrics, but great sustainability reporting is meaningless unless we know how we can improve those metrics. To make these improvements, we need to look at the individual tasks we all carry out. It’s these individual changes to key procedures, approaches and policies that actually make a difference. No matter what function or role we’re in, we can drive actual change from the bottom-up.

Finally, everyone has a part to play in improving sustainability. We all have a different impact on sustainability, but we can all do something about it. Everyone, from site operatives to the finance team, can improve company sustainability. Sustainability is not someone else’s problem. It’s an opportunity for us all.

Luke Deamer is a doctoral practitioner in sustainability with Keller