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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Hashem Akbari

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

Urban areas tend to have higher summer air temperatures (as much as 3-5°C) than their rural surroundings. The term summer “Urban Heat Island” describes this phenomenon. Except in the city core areas, summer heat islands are created mainly by the lack of vegetation and by the high solar radiation absorptance by urban surfaces; the surfaces of buildings and pavements absorb solar radiation and become hot, which in turn warms the surrounding air. As the air temperature rises, so does the demand for air-conditioning (a/c). This leads to higher emissions by power plants, as well as increased smog formation as a result of warmer temperatures. Typically, electricity demand in cities increases by 2-4% for each 1K increase in temperature. Hence, we estimate that 5-10% of the current urban electricity demand is spent to cool buildings just to compensate for the increased 0.5-3.0K in urban temperatures. Higher urban temperature also increases the episodes of smoggy days by 10-20%. In addition, urban heat islands exacerbate summer heat waves and their tragic consequences (e.g., between 10,000 to 15,000 people died in France's scorching heat wave this August 2003). Urban trees and high-albedo surfaces can offset or reverse the heat-island effect. Mitigation of urban heat islands can potentially reduce U.S. energy use in air conditioning by 20% and save over $5B per year in energy use and improvement in urban air quality. Recognizing the many negative aspects of the summer heat islands, I created the Heat Islands Research Project at LBNL in 1985. My group research is leading the way into the exploration of two technologies that are now on trajectories to yield significant and highly beneficial energy, environmental, and health impacts. My group has conducted groundbreaking research on the potential for shade trees and cool roofing and paving materials to reduce the urban heat islands effect. We have monitored buildings in the California central valley with lightly colored, more reflective roofs and found that these buildings used up to 40% less energy for cooling than buildings with darker roofs. In a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we carried out a detailed analysis of energy-saving potential of light-colored roofs in 11 U.S. metropolitan areas, with resulting estimated savings potential of about $175 million per year (1998 USD) for the 11 cities. Extrapolated national energy savings from air conditioning was estimated at $750 (1998 USD) million per year. The savings from shade trees and vegetation is also estimated at $1B per year. The impacts of savings in health and lost work time owing to a projected 12% O3 reduction are three times larger than that cited for air conditioning above. Heat island mitigation technologies apply all around the world in both developed and developing countries. We estimate that the potential energy savings and health benefits from a worldwide implementation of heat-island mitigation technologies can save over $10B per year. We are working with manufacturers of roofing and paving materials to develop ‘colored’ solar-reflective materials for the marketplace, including both dark and light-colored cool shingles with reflectivity of up to 60%. It should be noted that building standards in the states of California, Georgia and Florida now include credits for cool roof; other states are beginning to provide credit for cool roofs in meeting building standards as well. In 2001-2002 California instituted a $10M/year program to accelerate market penetration of cool roofs by offering rebates of $1.5-2 per square meter of roof area to install cool roofs. This program is now continued by California utilities that currently are offering a rebate of $1 per meter square for installing cool roofs. The heat-island mitigation program has also been expanding in other countries; e.g., city of Osaka, Japan has recently instituted a $1.7 B (170 B Yen) program of cool roofs, green roofs, and urban trees. This program is a direct result of the research and outreach of my group. If the automobile industry switches from traditional paints to cool-colored pigments, air conditioning loads and related tail-pipe emissions will drop by about 5%, and fuel economy will improve by about 2%, and the first cost of the car will drop because the air conditioner can be downsized. I am now working with California agencies to quantify these estimates and partner with automobile manufacturers to make the paint switchover. The pioneering research of the Heat Island Group at LBNL has been the subject of hundreds of papers and books, and extensive press coverage (e.g., Newsweek, New Scientist, New York Times) and television programs (e.g., ABC News). The web site is http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/heatisland.

Brief Biography

RESEARCH INTEREST Renewable energy, energy use efficiency, heat island mitigation, air pollution control, environmental simulation and modeling, energy-efficient environment, cool materials, advanced energy technologies, utility energy forecasting

EDUCATION Ph.D. Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, June 1979 M.S. Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University of California, Berkeley, December 1978 S.M. Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 1977 B.Sc. Gas and Petroleum Engineering, Abadan Institute of Technology, Abadan, Iran, August 1971

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE • Group Leader, Principal Investigator, Staff Scientist III; 1983-present; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory • Visiting Professor; 2003-; Mechanical Engineering Department, University of California, Berkeley • Lecturer; 1994-1995; Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley • Lecturer; 1988-1989; Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley • Lecturer; 1989; Department of Meteorology, San Jose State University • Ph.D. and Master Degree Research Supervisor; 1984-present; Energy and Resources Group, Mechanical Engineering Department, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley • Fellow; 1989-1991; American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) • International Heat Island and Energy and Environment Specialist, Consultant, and Lecturer; 1977-present; Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Iran, Pakistan, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia • U.S. Heat Island and Energy and Environment Specialist, Consultant, and Lecturer; 1985-present; California Energy Commission U.S. House of Representatives Texas A&M University and Governor’s Energy Office, Texas Long Island Lighting Company BHC Associates, Oakland, CA ADM Associates, Sacramento, CA University of Texas at Austin • General Manager and Managing Director; 1981-1983; Jahan-Energy Consulting Engineers, Tehran, Iran • Director Process Engineering; 1981-1983; ENERCHIMI Consulting Engineers, Tehran, Iran • Associate Professor; 1979-1983; Abadan Institute of Technology, Abadan, Iran • Consultant; 1979-1988; Abadan Refinery, Abadan, Iran National Iranian Oil Company, Tehran, Iran ENERCHIMI Consulting Engineers, Tehran, Iran • Staff Scientist II; 1978-1979; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory • Graduate Student Research Assistance; 1977-1978; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory • Senior engineer; 1971-1975 National Iranian Oil Company (formerly Oil Service Company of Iran), Ahwaz, Iran

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION • Member of ASTM and Member of ASME • Member ASHRAE and several of its Technical Committees • Member of the Board of Directors of the Cool Roof Rating Council • Chairman of the National Committee for Development of Cool Construction Materials (1994-1999) • Chairman of the ASTM Committee for Development of Standards for Measurement and Rating of Cool Construction Materials (1994-present) • Chairman of the Cool Construction Materials Conferences (February and July 1994) • Chairman of Knowledge and Knowledge-Based Systems Symposium of ASHRAE (June, 1989) • Chairman of Summer Heat Island Workshop (Berkeley, 1989) • Chairman of Industrial Building Energy Use Workshop (Berkeley, 1988) • Chairman of EMCS-Based Monitoring Symposium of ASHRAE (June, 1987)