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Sustainable cooling for buildings is a huge opportunity for European startups

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Rising temperatures across Europe, coupled with an aging population and rapid urbanization, have not only made populations more vulnerable to heat, but have also increased the demand for cooling systems in buildings.

Between 1980 and 2020, heat waves even caused 77,000 to 129,000 deaths in the 32 member states of the European Economic Area, the European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates. This represents 86%-91% of the total number of fatalities due to climate-related extreme events.

And as heatwaves are expected to be more intense and frequent than ever before, the agency warns that the EU faces a crucial sustainability challenge: how to adapt its buildings in a way that guarantees the protection of citizens – and adheres to EU targets. on energy efficiency, energy independence and climate neutrality in a socially just way.

The need for new, locally oriented technologies can benefit startups

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While air conditioning is currently the dominant cooling strategy for commercial and residential buildings, it has two major drawbacks.

First, it results in the emission of CO2 and greenhouse gases (GHGs), especially hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The latter in particular has a global warming potential that is thousands or tens of thousands of times higher than that of CO2.

In addition, the increasing electricity consumption associated with the increasing use of air conditioning not only poses challenges to meet the EU targets to reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels, but also means that this cooling system may not be affordable for low-income countries. .

Therefore, the EEA proposes the implementation of sustainable technologies that take into account the local context, including climate conditions, building types, urban density, demographics and power grid quality.

The most efficient technologies to avoid high energy demand include technologies that can reduce the cooling load by implementing passive cooling methods. Think of better insulation, optimal sun protection of glazed facades, radiation cooling and passive sun protection in the form of green roofs and walls.