Southeast Asia’s air conditioning is burning up the Earth

by Kenneth Wee

Few things feel better than a gust of chilly air when walking into a mall on a hot day—especially now that the dry monsoon season is here. But most air conditioned buildings in our cities are too cold—and they’re burning up the planet.

Southeast Asia’s air conditioning is burning up the Earth
How does an air conditioning unit work?
Burning the planet to sweat less
But is air conditioning a necessary evil in the tropics?
So, how might we cool ourselves sustainably?
Building better in the tropics

Sun shading using an overhang, a common technique in the tropics.


Cross-ventilation and stack ventilation in a modern building. Adapted from Mogave Architects.


Illustrated example of rooftop plant cover. Adapted from MIT Climate CoLab.

Governments must lead the drive for sustainable cooling
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Illustration & infographics / Griselda Gabriele
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