Keeping Cool in a Heatwave

With various countries experiencing significant heatwaves this year, the challenge of keeping buildings cool is recognised by many.

There is practical advice for keeping our homes cool without changing anything about the structure, such as keeping the hot air out by keeping windows closed and covered with blinds or curtains during the day – especially south-facing windows which catch the most hours of sunlight.

In addition to common-sense measures like that, building companies are developing techniques for keeping buildings cool without resorting to air conditioning. One of those techniques is to have a ‘cool roof’ – something that can be achieved by applying a coating to the roof, a coating that is either white or contains special pigments that reflect sunlight.

Plants covering the side of a buildingBuilding with facades largely covered by vegetation (BIU Vertical Fields Project).

And last week, researchers from Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, presented results of a study into the effectiveness of covering the sides of buildings with what they described as ‘vertical fields’ – many bushes and climbers grown in planters on balconies.

Covering the facades of buildings in this manner was shown to reduce temperatures indoors by several degrees in the summer. It also had the benefit of increasing temperatures by a similar amount winter.

This study is thought to be the first of its kind in the world and demonstrates once again the Israelis’ love of searching for practical solutions to common problems.