Cooling NZ:institutional drivers behind the growth in air-conditioning

  • AUTHORS
    Budin, Hemyza
    Byrd, Hugh
  • CATEGORIES
    Buildings and energy

Extract

ABSTRACT
Cooling by air-conditioning in buildings has been claimed to be addictive to the occupants. But for every addict there is ‘pusher’ who has introduced and supplies the product. This paper examines the motives of the institutional pushers that promote air-conditioning in the built environment in New Zealand. Compared to many countries, New Zealand has lagged behind in the growth of air-conditioning in the built environment. This makes it an ideal place to observe how various institutions and organisations are either deliberately or unselfconsciously promoting cooling to a population that has, until recently, survived well without it. The paper does not address the air-conditioning industry, as it is self-evident that it will promote its own products. Instead it focuses on those institutions that may ultimately suffer from their own actions. Central government, local government, the electricity supply industry, the Green Building Council, the Property Council, the New Zealand Institute of Architects and others are all ‘pushing’ air-conditioning, even though some may not be aware of it. Behind this is the assumption that there is a never-ending supply of energy and that the narrow band of comfort resulting from air-conditioning is healthy, promotes productivity, reduces complaints, enhances architectural style and is energy efficient. This paper will review the role that each of these institutions plays in the promotion of air-conditioning and discusses the ultimate demise of any building that relies on an uninterrupted supply of grid supplied energy in order to remain habitable. This research into the understanding of how these institutions operate to promote air-conditioning may eventually assist in reversing the process.

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