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SONY releases a pocket-sized

Air Conditioner 

8th July 2020


The sleek device, placed alongside a special t-shirt that suspends it at the base of the neck, promises to bring comfort during the hot days.


The device is reported to cool the wearer’s body by 13 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). It is activated and controlled via a smartphone app and supports Android and iOS functionality.

This wearable air-conditioner is said to work for two to four hours depending on the usage and will need two hours to be fully charged. It uses a USB-c.


Green Balconies


Milans Vertical Forest Towers

6th August 2018

CALLED the Bosco Verticale, the project is designed by Stefano Boeri architects and was originally created to combat the alarming levels of air pollution in Milan. The two residential towers are located in the centre of the city in the Isola neighbourhood. Milan is now one of the most polluted cities in the world and the Bosco Verticale aims to ease the environmental damage caused by urbanisation. 


Given the lack of green space in the city, Milan’s environment does not promote biodiversity. The new plantings will provide an urban eco-system able to support a wide range of birds and insects. The architects believe the project has the potential to balance out the city’s environmental damage and to create a self-sufficient ecosystem.

On flat land, each tower equals an area of 10,000 square metres of forest. In terms of urban density, it is the equivalent of an area of single family dwellings of nearly 50,000 square metres. The verticality of the scheme means the urban sprawl is contained and the forest goes upwards into the sky.

The screen of leafy green trees and shrubs will filter dust particles, absorb carbon dioxide, protect the apartments from noise pollution, help ease the urban heat experienced in the city during summer and reduce the need for air conditioning to heat and cool the tower’s apartments.

The types of trees being used were chosen based on where they would be positioned on the buildings’ facades. It took more than two years of working with botanists to decide which trees would suit the buildings and the climate. The plants used were grown specifically for the project, pre-cultivated so that they would gradually acclimatize to the conditions on the face of building.

Although the architects have been working on the project since 2007, it is only now that the specially-grown trees and plants are being lifted into the two skyscrapers which are scheduled to be finished later this year. The towers, 110 and 76 meters high, will have more than 900 trees planted on their facades and balconies, each tree up to nine metres tall, plus 11,000 ground-cover plants and 5,000 different flowering shrubs.

“The Bosco Verticale is a system that optimizes, recuperates and produces energy,’’ says architect Stefano Boeri. “It creates a microclimate with a diversity of plants that produce humidity, absorb carbon dioxide and improve the quality of living spaces and save energy. The plants will be irrigated by filtering and reusing the grey waters produced by the building. Additionally Aeolian and photovoltaic energy systems will increase the degree of energetic self sufficiency of the two towers."

The construction of the towers cost 65 million euros, just five per cent more than an average skyscraper, and the project’s vertical design provides space that is equal to a large area of urban sprawl. The structure sets a precedent not only for new developments in Milan, but also for similar cities with the same level of urbanisation. The innovative concept is a viable model for reforestation within the confines of a developed city.


Efficient Cooling seen as key to keeping Climate Change in check

17th July 2020

After enduring the hottest decade on record, India aims to keep its homes and workplaces cool without raising energy consumption with one simple change: raising the temperature settings on air conditioners.

The government has mandated a default temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) instead of the standard 20-21C (68-70F) for units made or sold from the start of this year and wants commercial buildings to keep air conditioning at that level.

The measure could cut national energy consumption by 24% for households and 20% for businesses, according to Gabrielle Dreyfus, co-author of a report published on Friday that called for a switch to more energy-efficient cooling systems.

The United Nations report said that while cooling devices like air conditioners and refrigerators are crucial to human health and the global economy, emissions from the fossil fuels used to power them could worsen climate change.

"Doubling the energy efficiency of the cooling equipment... can save something like 1,600 medium-sized power plants from being built by 2030," Durwood Zaelke, co-chair of the report's steering committee, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"That's a tremendous amount of conventional and climate pollution you can avoid," said Zaelke, who heads the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, a U.S. think tank.

This should be a focus in post-pandemic recovery plans, said the report, which follows recent heatwaves in the United States and Siberia.

As climate change brings ever-hotter days, worldwide demand for cooling appliances is growing - by up to 10 devices every second on top of an estimated 3.6 billion that are currently in use, the report said.

It also said phasing out climate-warming refrigerant gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) could help the world avoid up to 0.4C of global warming by 2100.

The difference is substantial in the context of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change that aims to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial times to prevent crises such as food and water shortages, rising seas and worsening weather events.


Better building design could also help by reducing consumption or the need for cooling as well as create jobs, the report said.

For example, a clean white roof that reflects 80% of sunlight would stay about 30 degrees C cooler than a grey roof that reflects only 20% of sunlight and well-designed cities could save 25% of the energy used for heating and cooling.

Another way is to develop national plans to address rising cooling needs but without the corresponding rise in emissions, like India, China and Rwanda have done, Zaelke said.

Others like Ghana have banned "zombie" appliances - cheap, outdated fridges and air conditioners discarded mostly from homes in Europe and then illegally resold that release HFCs.

Globally, more than one billion people lack access to cooling, which puts their health and safety at risk, and a further 2.2 billion are only able to afford cheaper, less energy-efficient cooling, a separate report published on Thursday said.

Mobilising finance for the sector is crucial because while upfront costs might be high, energy efficient technologies often pay for themselves in savings within just a couple of years, said Dreyfus.

"These technologies exist. We just need to put in place the policies and mechanisms to make them more accessible to people."


(Reporting By Thin Lei Win @thinink, Editing by Helen Popper and Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly.


Image by Annie Spratt
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