Air conditioning has become the ultimate tool for control over
our environment. Yet air conditioning units are a major cause of concern due to the fact that they contribute to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. By designing spaces that are tailored to a specific climate and using strategies for passive cooling we can create places that withstand and moderate shifting weather patterns without wasting energy.
These strategies embrace the integration of architecture and landscape to mediate light and heat. Deciduous trees strategically planted on the Southern and Western sides of buildings shade interiors from hot summer sun, while allowing
the warmth of the sun in when they shed their leaves in winter months. Large overhangs also provide shade and create outdoor spaces that are protected from the sun, rain, and snow. Operable windows allow for natural ventilation and temperature control without AC.
WRT’s architects and landscape architects have created spaces like Paseo Verde’s ribbon courtyards and Germantown Academy’s outdoor classrooms, which demonstrate the value of inside and outside spaces tailored specifically to local climate. With strategies such as these we can create buildings that are less hermetically sealed and more tied to public spaces, the city, and nature. At the same, time we can save energy and the environment. Now that’s cool!