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Desert village and passive cooling projects picked for global sustainability prize

Four projects have been identified as finalists for the latest Ashden Award for Cooling that seeks to scale-up sustainable cooling approaches for areas highly vulnerable to heatwaves

A focus on pushing architects to consider new materials and passive design approaches for delivering cooling and a desert-based green village are among the projects competing for a global prize to honour heatwave mitigation.

Four projects have been longlisted for this year’s Ashden Award for Cooling, which was first held in 2019 to look at how the sector can develop new approaches to ensure comfort without necessarily relying on air conditioning technology as a means to curb high temperatures

Award organisers have said that despite increasing demand for cooling, air conditioning remains unaffordable for billions of people around the world, while also contributing to climate change through both direct and indirect emissions linked to energy demand.

The event’s organisers added, “Left unchecked, emissions from air conditioning could account for nearly 20 per cent of climate pollution by 2050. This award, first launched in 2019, seeks to put the spotlight on cooling as an under-appreciated issue. Last year the city of Medellin, Colombia won for an innovative project using planting in the city centre to reduce temperatures.”

The long-list for this year’s entries includes a project jointly supported by the German and Vietnamese arms of the Red Cross that makes use of weather data to help assign funding and support to prepare for predicted heatwaves. This is focused on establishing crisis centres to support outdoor workers and residents living in slum areas.

A project called Fairconditioning, which has been devised by India-based Cbalance Solutions, has been selected for the prize. It focuses on ensuring university courses across the country promote emerging approaches to sustainable design and cooling. It is hoped that this education focus can challenge what Cbalance Solutions calls “air-conditioning-as-default thinking”.

Another project based in India that is nominated for the prize is the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan. This is designed allow the city of Ahmedabad to support citizens during intense periods of hot weather with advice, healthcare and water.

The final nomination is the Econsult green village project based in Egypt. The village, set up in an area of desert, has been established for farmers and makes use of heat-absorbing materials and heat-reflecting roofs to highlight the role they can play in supporting non-mechanical forms of cooling.

Winning projects are expected to take home a cash prize, additional development support and a chance to meet with investors and other specialists from the energy sector, according to the organisers.

Dan Hamza-Goodacre, executive director of the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme (K-CEP), said the projects selected for the Ashden awards highlighted the importance of ensuring climate friendly cooling was accessible among vulnerable people around the world.

He said, “Progress in reducing carbon emissions needs rapidly scaling up if humanity is to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Emissions from cooling would alone blow the global carbon budget for 1.5 deg C.”

The winner of this year’s Ashden Award for Cooling is expected to be announced at a ceremony to be held in London on 2 July. This will coincide with the London Climate Action Week campaign.

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