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Hot Summer: Ready for Fall?

Happy almost-Fall from Agora Architecture!

Have you heard of “cooling centers”? They are designated buildings or spaces that are open to the public during periods of extreme heat, generally in cities. Do you remember when people used to go to the movies because they were among the only air-conditioned spaces around? What about when giant blocks of ice were used to cool buildings? …Maybe that’s too far back.

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I remember our AC going out when I was little, and those were the summer days I spent extra time at the library, or we would go wander around Dillons for an hour. I had never heard of a cooling center.

But these cooling centers are quite common in NYC, because it gets HOT in the city. However, the NYC temperature on the weather channel map doesn’t typically show it hotter than in most of Kansas. That’s odd. Can New Yorkers just not handle the heat like we Kansans? Not necessarily. Part of the answer is the “heat island effect”. Even if you haven’t heard the term, I am betting you will know what I mean. Even in a smaller community like Winfield, we can feel a temperature difference between our beautiful Main Street and our friend’s house a couple miles outside of town. The streets, buildings, cars and homes running A/C produce a lot of heat. And that heat gets stored in the walls and the concrete and doesn’t get released until the sun goes down. Which means that even at night—it’s still HOT!

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As architects, we strive to design efficient buildings that can minimize this effect. This keeps energy costs down for our clients, is kinder to the environment, and is the right thing to do! While not all buildings can have my dream green roof, like the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art shown below, something as simple as selecting a lighter colored roofing material or wall color can make a big difference.

Check out this video link below to see a quick 2 ½ minute video from NPR on the basics of the Heat Island Effect. The thermal imaging examples will speak volumes.

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/24/631560598/watch-why-its-usually-hotter-in-a-city

Keeping cool going into fall will (hopefully) be much easier. Best of luck to you all!

Written by Karen Klein - Project Architect and Owner at Agora Architecture