Zero Electricity Air Cooler

Eco-Cooler airco without electricity

Over 70% of Bangladesh’s population live in corrugated tin huts across the countryside. During the long summer months, temperatures reach up to 45° Celsius, making these huts unbearable to live in.

To address the issue, Grey Dhaka teamed up with volunteers from Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd to create the Eco-Cooler – a zero electricity air cooler, which uses re-purposed plastic bottles cut in half and put into a grid, in accordance to available window sizes.

Based on wind direction and airflow pressure, the Eco-Cooler has succeeded in decreasing the temperature in tin huts by up to 5° Celsius. After initial tests, blueprints of the Eco-Cooler were put up online for everyone to download for free.

Thanks to Adriana Parra.

Adapting to Climate by Being a Nomad within your own House

While some people seasonally move between dwellings, others are nomads within their own houses. In such diverse places as Iraq, Algeria, and India, climates and cultures may vary, as do the directions and rhythms of movement. But all share migration within the dwelling as a primary mode of adaption to climate.

Families living in traditional courtyard houses of Baghdad, without mechanical ventilation or heating, migrate by day and season for comfort. In September or October, they move around the courtyard to rooms facing south. In April or May they shift to the north-facing rooms. In summer there is a daily vertical migration, the afternoon siesta being spent at the lowest levels and the nighttime sleep traditionally being taken on the roof under the stars.

old baghdad house

Picture: muhammadshnait91.tumblr.com

Such migrations mean that space is used with a freedom unusual in modern life and in the West. Recent correspondence from Mounjia Abdeltif-Benchaabane, a professor of architecture in Algiers, describes how rooms there have not traditionally been organized with regard to individual use or established purpose:

A living room becomes a sleeping room at night. Closets are full of mobile furnishings. In the morning everything is hung near windows to air out under the sun before being reused, perhaps in a different room. The kitchen is a multifunctional space. They cook on the floor even if they have modern tools.

A long-established Arab concern with privacy, in conjunction with the custom of migrating through the house, established the texture of some old cities like Baghdad. Since the roof is used for sleeping during nearly half of the year and the privacy of the family at night is fundamental, no house could look down upon its neighbor nor could one house look into the courtyard of another. The result was an effective building height control with advantages for solar access: no house could overshadow another, thus assuring wintertime light and heat to upper living spaces.

Quoted from “Ritual House: Drawing on Nature’s Rhythms for Architecture and Urban Design“, Ralph L. Knowles, 2006.

India’s Ancient Stepwell Architecture Cools Modern Building

“At the height of summer, in the sweltering industrial suburbs of Jaipur, Rajasthan in north-west India, where temperatures can hit 45C Pearl Academy of Fashion remains 20 degrees cooler inside than out, by drawing on Rajasthan’s ancient architecture. While the exterior appears very much in keeping with the trends of contemporary design, at the base of the building is a vast pool of water — a cooling concept taken directly from the stepwell structures developed locally over 1,500 years ago to provide refuge from the desert heat.”

Read more: Ancient ‘air-conditioning’ cools building sustainably.

Movable Shading Structures

movable shading structures

A house can be cooled in two ways. You can try to get rid of the incoming solar heat using air conditioning. Or you can try to prevent the sun from entering the house. The last option can be achieved by movable shading structures. The French house on the picture was built in 2009 by Karawitz Architecture.

Its shuttered bamboo skin can be used to keep the sun out in summer. The shutters can be opened in winter, exposing the large south-facing windows. The house, which stands in Bessancourt (not far from Paris), has no active heating or cooling system. Info + pictures. Via Build it solar. Thanks to Paul Nash.

Related: Window orientation and shading.

Window Orientation and Shading

window orientation and shading

“In sunny southern locations, protecting your windows from the sun is an important component of good window management. The first step is to know how the sun moves through the sky and to orient the building and place the windows in it so as to minimize direct solar admission through your windows.” Read more.

“Sustainable By Design provides a suite of shareware design tools to calculate the right dimensions and placing for your specific location, wherever you are.

  • SunAngle: our premier tool for solar angle calculations.
  • SunPosition: calculates a time series of basic solar angle data.
  • Sol Path: visualization of the path of the sun across the sky.
  • Window Overhang Design: visualization of the shade provided by a window overhang at a given time.
  • Window Overhang Annual Analysis: visualization of window overhang shading performance for an entire year.
  • Overhang Recommendations: suggested climate-specific dimensions for south-facing window overhangs
  • Light penetration: visualization of the penetration of sunlight into a room
  • Louver Shading: visualization of louvered shading system performance for an entire year.
  • Vertical Fin Shading: visualization of a vertical fin shading system performance for an entire year
  • Window Heat Gain: calculation of monthly heat gain through windows.
  • Panel Shading: visualization of the shading of rows of flat panel collectors throughout the year.”

Interesting follow-up at Treehugger.

Home Made Air Conditioner

Low-tech cooling2 From the comments:

“How about using the toilet tank? In the US all accept the most expensive low water toilets have a large enough tank. This would eliminate the cooler, the water would circulate avoiding unwanted mold/bacteria, each flush would bring in cool water, and the pump and cold packs would reduce water usage.”

“So, would you want me to make a looped system using a toilet tank as a source of constantly cool water?”

“I freaking love this idea.”

“It’s entirely doable, if you’re willing to have a decent length of tubing running through your house. It might be a great way to cool a bedroom thats near a bathroom though… Great Green idea!”

Home Made Air Conditioner at Instructables.

Innovation & Tradition: The Complete Works of Hassan Fathy Online

Hassan fathy 8 “Since antiquity, man has reacted to his environment, using his faculties to develop techniques and technologies, whether to bake bread or make brick, in such internal psychological balance with nature that humanity historically lived attuned to the environment. Man’s creations were natural when built of the materials offered by the landscape. Learning to manipulate clay, stone, marble, and wood, man penetrated their properties, and his techniques gave expression to his aspirations toward the divine. In architecture, environmental harmony was known to the Chinese, the Indians, the Greeks, and others. It produced the temples of Karnak, the great mosques of Islam, and the cathedral of Chartres in France.”

Hassan fathy 5 “With the advent of the industrial revolution, the inherited techniques and perfected knowledge of creating, using handmade tools, were lost and are now forgotten. Energy-intensive mechanized tools have diminished man’s personal, cellular contribution to the fabrication of objects, the building of structures, and the growing of food. The lesser the challenge for man to imprint his genius, the less artistic is the product. The resulting economic and political disturbances are visible today. Production of beauty, once the prerogative of millions, is replaced by industrialization, even of bread, under the control of a minority of owners. The negative consequences of the industrial revolution have disturbed the natural organization of the divine concept for humanity.”

Hassan fathy 2 “Sixty years of experience have shown me that industrialization and mechanization of the building trade have caused vast changes in building methods with varying applications in different parts of the world. Constant upheaval results when industrially developed societies weaken the craft-developed cultures through increased communications. As they interact, mutations create societal and ecological imbalance and economic inequities which are documented to be increasing in type and number. Profoundly affected is the mass of the population, which is pressured to consume industrially produced goods. The result is cultural, psychological, moral, and material havoc.”

Hassan fathy 7 “Yet it is this population that has an intimate knowledge of how to live in harmony with the local environment. Thousands of years of accumulated expertise has led to the development of economic building methods using locally available materials, climatization using energy derived from the local natural environment, and an arrangement of living and working spaces in consonance with their social requirements. This has been accomplished within the context of an architecture that has reached a very high degree of artistic expression.”

Hassan fathy 1 Quoted from: “Architecture and environment” by Hassan Fathy, a noted Egyptian architect who pioneered appropriate technology for building in Egypt, especially by working to re-establish the use of mud brick (or adobe) and traditional as opposed to western building designs and lay-outs.

Fathy demonstrated how elements from vernacular Arab urban architecture, such as the malkaf (wind catch), shukshaykha (lantern dome) and mashrabiya (wooden lattice screen), could be combined with the mud-brick construction traditionally practiced in Nubia in Upper Egypt to form a distinctive, environmentally and socially conscious building style that linked the use of appropriate technologies with co-operative construction techniques and the guiding thread of tradition (source).

All his wonderfully illustrated books can be found online, free to download (in English, French & Arabic). Via TECTONICAblog (Thank you, Zeltia).

You Can’t Live With or Without Them: Clothes

Carl_Larsson_Model_writing_postcards_1906 Winter: Save on heating by insulating your body.
Summer: Save on AC by going naked.