A new air conditioning unit provides heating and cooling with less energy (and more style) than other units
Spotted: Gradient is a product designed to tackle two major issues in sustainability: the need for more air conditioners, and the move to more sustainable air conditioners. As the planet heats up, people are installing more air conditioners. It is said that by 2050 there will be an increase of 4 billion single room air conditioners over the 1.5 billion in use today. And air conditioners use a lot of energy, producing even more carbon emissions.
To turn the air conditioner greener, Gradient is developing a device that can be used for both heating and cooling and which can shrink the carbon footprint of an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system by 75 per cent. Oh, and it is also a lot more attractive than the metal monstrosities that currently hang out of many apartment and office windows like giant carbuncles.
In addition to its increased efficiency, the Gradient air conditioner is simple enough for almost anyone to install – this will give it a big advantage over other heat pumps on the market, which require engineers to install. The company has said that it is aiming to compete with the lowest-cost air conditioning units on the market.
Gradient sees air conditioning as a health need, which makes it all the more important that it be accessible and sustainable. Vince Romanin, Gradient’s CEO, told Fast Company that, “… we realized that we’re in kind of a vicious cycle where today’s systems are really high carbon emissions and growing in use. It doesn’t have to be this way — technology exists to make heating and cooling systems that don’t have high carbon emissions. The company’s here to break this cycle, and make products that allow you to be cool and comfortable without heating the planet.”
Gradient is not the only company working to find sustainable ways to deliver heating and cooling. Some of these involve materials, such as using 3D-printable composites to keep buildings cool, while others, such as a self-powered home in Melbourne, focus on design.
Written By: Lisa Magloff