The world is heating up, making us rethink not just how we live but where we live and work too.
Buildings account for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and more renewable energy will be needed to meet targets mandated by the Paris climate accord, according to Architecture 2030, a nonprofit group that works with construction companies.
Malaysia is tackling the challenge head-on. Architects have to take into account a year-round tropical climate in addition to the effect of carbon emissions from their projects.
Air conditioning is central to the debate. In a place like Malaysia it’s essential. But it’s also powered by huge amounts of energy that significantly heats up the planet.
Dr. Tan Loke Mun, an architect based in Kuala Lumpur, has spent years thinking about how to ensure homes and offices offer comfort without adding to the climate crisis.
Inside his home, an airy tree-lined property, he’s come up with simple upgrades to provide all the functions residents expect while saving energy.
The first thing to address is what he describes as low-hanging fruit.
Instead of installing air conditioning on the wall or ceiling, for example, vents are installed in the floor. Simply placing the system there can save a building about 30% to 50% of energy used, he said.
Materials also play an important role. The windows in Tan’s home are made from a type of glass that “lets in the light, but not the heat,” the architect said.