Latest News

Research on reducing energy consumption and use of harmful refrigerants in AC receives Climate Change Solutions Fund Award

Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Graduate School of Design logo.

Ten teams from across the University will share $1.3 million to support research into reducing the risks of climate change, hastening the transition to renewable energy, diminishing the impact of existing fossil fuels on the climate, understanding, and preparing for the effects of climate change, and propelling innovations needed to accelerate progress toward a healthier, more sustainable future.

Joanna Aizenberg, the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is leading a project with Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities’ Jonathan Grinham, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), to reduce the energy consumption and the use of harmful refrigerants in air conditioning by using a technology that decouples air cooling from humidity reduction — two functions performed simultaneously by conventional air conditioners in buildings.

Doing so can lead to significant energy savings by separately tuning dehumidification and cooling to reflect ambient conditions. The new technology — Dryscreen — is a water-selective membrane vacuum system that has been designed and fabricated with support from the U.S. Department of Energy. Funding through the CCSF will enable the on-campus field testing of the Dryscreen prototype, using the Center for Green Buildings and Cities’ LiveLab — a customizable space on the third floor of the Center’s headquarters HouseZero that allows for testing of different technologies.

“Full engagement in the critical work of confronting climate change requires that Harvard advance on as many fronts as we have at our disposal,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “The Climate Change Solutions Fund is one of the ways in which we support faculty and students in their important work, and the diversity of this year’s projects is a testament to the variety of tools we have at our disposal to address humanity’s greatest challenge.”

The fund was established in 2014 by President Emerita Drew Faust and is supported by the Office of the President and donations from alumni and others. CCSF is managed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability at Harvard.

Portions of this article are taken from Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: News & Events.