Almost 100 years after Willis Carrier introduced his centrifugal refrigeration compressor, an engineering marvel that ultimately made cooling all variety of indoor spaces mainstream, air conditioning use is still growing. And it’s no wonder this demand gets a chilly reception.
According to the World Bank, conventional cooling units are responsible for as much as 10 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. If left unaddressed, emissions from cooling are expected to double this decade.
The potential environmental impact grows even starker over time, as urban temperatures considered extreme today potentially become the norm within 30 years. This will lead to a worldwide increase in demand for air conditioning, and in regions not known for using it, such as northern Europe.
However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the majority of demand growth will come from emerging economies, particularly in Southeast Asia. The region, where currently only 15 percent of the population has access to air conditioning, is predicted to see “skyrocketing” sales of units over the next 20 years.
Finding a way to sustainably stay cool is critical, and some cities in the region may have found the answer: district cooling.