In December 2023 the United Nations Environment Programme released the report Global Cooling Watch 2023: Keeping it Chill: How to meet cooling demands while cutting emissions. The document outlines sustainable cooling measures in three areas: passive cooling, higher-energy efficiency standards, and a faster phase down of climate-warming refrigerants.
According to the report an integrated approach to sustainable space cooling results in multiple benefits considering the link between the urban, buildings and equipment levels (Figure 1). This approach is a 3-step one and involves: 1) Reducing heat at the urban scale i.e. mitigating the urban heat island effect by taking measures proven effective, such as nature-based solutions (e.g. adding greenery and water-based techniques), the use of cool materials on ground surfaces and building envelopes, and artificial shading through fabric canopies and pergolas. 2) Reducing cooling needs in buildings through proper design strategies (e.g. passive designs, optimized envelopes, orientations, façade design, shading, material selection, nature-based greening and water features, natural ventilation, etc.). These could be implemented through enhanced building codes, standards and advanced energy design guides.3) Serving cooling needs in buildings efficiently through relevant policies that support reduced building cooling loads, as well as global best practices in energy efficiency standards.
The report also highlights the importance of space cooling policies to promote sustainable cooling and heat resilience in a manner that downsizes cooling systems and cooling needs, decreases resource consumption and minimizes the environmental impact of cooling. As presented in Figure 2 which follows, a sequential approach would begin with a focus on adaptation and increasing heat resilience (through solar protection, heat dissipation, modulation and prevention), followed by downsizing cooling systems and needs (through smart management of more comfort variables and occupant-centric technology) and finally on mitigating resource consumption and environmental impact, equipment life cycle and grid decarbonization.
To download and read the full report please visit: https://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/44243