Cool roofs can mitigate cooling energy demand for informal settlement dwellers

Narasimha Rao and 3 other contributors

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    Cities are critical to meeting our sustainable energy goals. Informal settlement redevelopment programs represent an opportunity to improve living conditions and curb increasing demand for active cooling. We introduce an energy modeling framework for informal settlements to investigate how building design decisions influence the onset of heat stress and energy-intensive cooling demand. We show that occupants of tropically-located informal settlements are most vulnerable to prolonged heat stress year-round. Up to 98% of annual heat stress exposure can be mitigated by improving the building envelope. We find a universal solution (cool roofs) that reduces up to 91% of annual heat stress exposure. Finally, we show how proposed redevelopment building schemes could worsen thermal conditions of dwellers and further increase urban energy demand. Our results underscore how building design affects human well-being and highlight potential near-term and long-term pathways for reducing energy-intensive cooling demand for 800+ million informal settlement dwellers worldwide.