These Students Came up With an Ingenious Way to Keep Buildings Cool

Reprinted from Christian Cotroneo’s article in Mother Nature Network
The student team took a page from mother nature to develop this sun-thwarting insulation. (Photo: Phalanx)

Taking a page from the termite construction manual, Team Phalanx from the Industrial Design program at California State University, Long Beach has developed an insulation that could revolutionize how homes and offices are cooled.

From Mount Everest’s slushy summit to the fading ice fields of Greenland, the dial on the global furnace ticks ever upward.

And so, too, the air-conditioning dial.

Climate may change, but old habits, they die hard. No one wants to sweat out a heat wave. And, indeed, air conditioning can save lives — even as it also takes the long way around to taking lives.

All those AC units chugging away in homes and offices work tirelessly to stave off heat. At the same time, the emissions and particulate matter they dump into the atmosphere makes our lot even worse.

It’s a dilemma scientists have been grappling with for decades: How do we keep our living spaces, well, livable, without adding to the planetary problem that is global warming?

And yet, termites seemed to have worked it all out ages ago. The cathedral-like mounds they build — often as tall as eight feet — may function much as giant lungs, cooling and heating the small inner chamber where the insects actually dwell.

Read the full story on MNN.