Cooling Homes in an Eco-friendly Manner

Air conditioners are a popular way to cool your home, and there are modern models that can maintain a comfortable temperature while using less energy. There are, however, a plethora of other options that could assist you in going green without sacrificing comfort.

Western Canada’s summer of 2021 was one of the hottest on record. On June 27, 59 weather stations in the Canadian province of British Columbia recorded their highest temperatures ever. Those who were fortunate enough to have air conditioners found it relatively easy to keep their homes cool during the heat dome. The relief, however, lasted only until the utility bills arrived. As a result of global heatwaves, global electricity demand has risen by 5% so far in 2021 and is expected to rise further each year.

Western Canada’s summer of 2021 was one of the hottest on record. On June 27, 59 weather stations in British Columbia recorded their highest temperatures ever. Those who were fortunate enough to have air conditioners found it relatively easy to keep their homes cool during the heat dome. The relief, however, lasted only until the utility bills arrived. According to UBCO researcher Dr. Mohammad Al Hashmi, global electricity demand has increased by 5% so far in 2021 as a result of heatwaves around the world, and it is expected to continue to rise annually.

Reducing energy consumption for homes will require a comprehensive approach that includes building retrofits, renewable energy solutions, and government sustainability policies. With this framework, we can achieve greater efficiency for these multi-unit residential buildings while reducing residential energy demands.

Dr. Mohammad Al Hashmi

“Rapid population growth has resulted in high demand for residential buildings all over the world. At the same time, there is an increase in energy demand due to increased greenhouse gas emissions” he claims. “Buildings in hot and arid climates require a lot of energy to create habitable indoor environments. Maintaining a cool temperature in hot regions necessitates massive amounts of energy.”

Dr. Al Hashmi created a framework for reducing energy consumption in residential buildings using data from Saudi Arabia. The operational framework investigates methods for keeping homes cool while causing the least amount of environmental damage. He based his research on Saudi Arabia because residential building energy demand accounts for 52% of the country’s total electricity consumption.

Environmentally friendly ways to cool homes

Dr. Al Hashmi and his colleagues at UBC Okanagan’s Lifecycle Management Lab examined potential energy interventions and forecasted energy consumption for the next 30 years. They chose six distinct renewable energy generation systems, including solar, wind, and photovoltaic array panels, as well as some hybrid combinations. The scientists also looked into energy storage systems like a battery bank, fuel cells, and hydrogen tank storage. They ran over 180 simulations in total, allowing for full scenario analysis to calculate savings based on each system.

In arid countries such as Saudi Arabia, the residential building energy demand is met with fossil fuel. According to Dr. Al Hashmi, the current consumption pattern of fossil fuels in Saudi Arabia is unsustainable due to resource depletion. This has far-reaching environmental consequences.

“Our research focused on Saudi Arabia, but the findings are easily applicable to other countries and geographical areas, such as the Okanagan,” says Dr. Al Hashmi, who received his Ph.D. this spring. Dr. Al Hashmi believes that embracing renewable energy could have a significant impact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions associated with cooling residential buildings. His research demonstrates the need for a framework for community-government collaboration that combines building interventions and cleans energy approaches.

“Reducing energy consumption for homes will require a comprehensive approach that includes building retrofits, renewable energy solutions, and government sustainability policies,” he says. “With this framework, we can achieve greater efficiency for these multi-unit residential buildings while reducing residential energy demands.”

In the Canadian context, Dr. Al Hashmi recognizes that the challenge is two-fold, with buildings requiring retrofits that address both hot and cold extremes. “A certain level of cooperation between the community and the government is required in terms of financial investments and the best combinations of retrofits and clean energy measures, but our analysis shows that reducing carbon emissions is achievable.”