Back in the 60’s, the group “The Lovin’ Spoonful” recorded a song called “Summer in the City.” Maybe you remember it:
“Hot town, summer in the city,
back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.
Been down, isn’t it a pity,
doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.
All around, people looking half dead,
walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.”
Across much of the U.S., people can relate to those lyrics now more than ever. The past six months have been the hottest on record, especially the past couple of months where temperatures above 100 degrees have been the norm rather than the exception for many regions.
When temperatures rise, so do many other things such as cooling costs, energy consumption, and the absorption of all that heat by dark objects. When it comes to alleviating many of those factors, it’s precast concrete’s time to shine.
Keeping structures cool during a heat wave can prove to be both challenging and costly, whether it’s your home or a large office building. Air conditioning units work overtime to mitigate the excessive outdoor temperatures, but some structures have it easier than others. Buildings that use precast concrete panels for cladding benefit from what is known as thermal mass. The concrete soaks up the sun’s heat during the day and then releases it as nighttime temperatures cool. Walk by any concrete building after the sun has set and you’ll feel the heat radiating out of the panels.
Both houses and larger buildings can also benefit from structural precast concrete walls cast with a layer of insulation. These panels help keep cool air in and hot air out. The Solar Decathlon home designed by Team New Jersey in 2011 is a wonderful example of this and many other benefits of precast concrete when it comes to home building.
We’ll continue our exploration of the ways precast concrete can help reduce the nasty side effects of excessive heat in part two of this blog post net week.