The role of passive cooling is often underestimated in optimising the need for cooling solutions. The Economist Intelligence Unit on the Power of Efficient Cooling (The Economist 2020), illustrated through extensive modelling on the financial and environmental costs of energy supply that if electricity demand from space cooling is not reduced:

  • Without the implementation of sustainable cooling solutions, countries aiming to meet net zero emissions in 2050 are likely to miss those targets by up to eight years.
  • Efficient cooling can expedite the transition to net zero at a lower cost, as well as providing benefits for all stakeholders, including governments, consumers and the power sector itself, given the right incentives

However, in the context of populations below poverty line, turning towards passive technologies for cooling solutions also results in reduced recurring expenditures on energy bills, productivity loss, income loss and health burden. Cooling solutions available today primarily respond to a society where supply of energy is not a constraint. Low income communities are facing the impact of heat stress in multiple different ways and need cooling solutions today in order to adapt and overcome increasing challenges of food security, livelihood and health. If the existing cooling solutions are deployed in order to meet their urgent demands, it will not only result in future burden (due to unoptimised solutions), but also result in increased pressure on the planet due to increased emissions. There needs to be a greater understanding of the cooling needs, the factors that influence these needs and the role of passive and active cooling solutions to create a new spectrum of solutions.