There is a famous quote often attributed to Mark Twain that goes, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” He never could have foreseen how untrue this quote would become. From the melting polar ice caps, to the heavy pollution in China, our planet is facing a threat, a change: climate change! So, how do we reverse this environmental calamity?
Architects have moved to the forefront of this fight, creating revolutionary buildings that not only slow the effects of climate change, but can also reverse them. “Buildings consume nearly half of all energy used in the United States,” says Patrick Sisson, writer for Dwell.com. Buildings contribute a lot to the problem of climate change, and therefore are a big part of the solution. But what techniques can they use to turn back global warming?
According to Ron Rochon, managing partner at Miller Hull, an architecture firm in Seattle, “Something like 80 or 90 percent of buildings that will exist in 2050 are already here.” When thinking about architecture as a tool to turn back global warming, we must not only build new buildings, but also find strategies to improve the buildings that already exist. Many architects renovate buildings by changing the interior while leaving the exterior of the building intact. Adding solar panels on the roof of an old home can make a big difference.
We want our homes to be at a comfortable temperature, but heaters and air conditioning are not only costly, but they are also damaging to the environment. In some new buildings, architects have found other ways to heat and cool rooms. Radiant heating is another “green” method to warm our houses. Unlike a conventional heater, radiant heating does not heat the air. Instead, pipes underneath the floor circulate heated water. Objects then absorb the infrared rays and radiate the heat to more objects. The result is an efficient way to transfer energy and to warm your house.
In conclusion, there are many different strategies that architects can employ to reverse the frightening effects of climate change.