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As temperatures rise, it’s tempting to turn up the air conditioning to keep interiors cool. However, there are other ways to incorporate cooling features in a home to minimise one’s reliance on air conditioning and save on-energy costs. We look at three options designed to do just that.
The beauty of marble Used for centuries from ancient Greek palaces to contemporary luxury villas and even the Taj Mahal, marble is a practical and durable flooring option, which combines natural beauty with inherent cooling properties. It is a metamorphic rock formed when limestone is subjected to intense pressure and heat. The minerals in the rock give it its distinct colouration and pattern, which vary from pure white to rose pinks, azure blues, pale beiges and dramatic black.
Because of its distinct geological composition, marble is naturally 11 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than other natural forms of stone. This makes it cool to the touch and is an ideal flooring material for the warmer months of the year when walking bare feet in the house is ideal.
Subodh Shah, Managing Director of Marmo Classic Stones Factory, is enthusiastic about the use of marble to help reduce indoor temperatures naturally. “For me, there’s nothing to compare with real, natural marble,” he says. “It has a distinct beauty and tactile quality that can’t be replicated. Combine that with its cooling properties and you have the perfect flooring material for a climate such as here in Dubai.”
Shah says his company sources its marble from all over the world. “We are able to offer a variety of colours and pattern effects to suit any interior,” he says. “We’ve found that lighter, neutral colours also tend to make a room feel more expansive and airy, which has an additional subliminally cooling effect on the occupier.”
A new take on concrete
Concrete has a noble and proud history dating back to the Roman Empire, but fell into disfavour in the last century when the brutalist movement created buildings that were not to everyone’s taste. Well, now it’s back and this time it’s beautiful.
Munncrete is a new product that will be launching in the Middle East soon and puts a contemporary twist on traditional concrete by encasing it with a cement porcelain coating. This produces a seamless, durable, practical and beautiful flooring option, which is available in a variety of standard and custom-made colours.
Rishi Subeathar developed the Munncrete system to add to the range of contemporary flooring options available to interior designers and style-savvy homeowners. “Polished, mechanically made concrete floors retain heat during cold weather and stay cooler in warmer conditions thanks to its high thermal mass,” says Subeathar. “This means that it absorbs heat during the day and releases it slowly at night, making it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In this way, homeowners are able to reduce energy consumption, while enjoying a unique and stylish floor.”
The system can also be used on other surfaces, including walls, ceilings, kitchens, bathrooms, counters, showers, wet rooms and swimming pools.
Living or green walls are sprouting up all over Dubai, mainly due to their aesthetic appeal. However, they also have other benefits, such as the ability to improve the quality of the air we breathe, as well as reduce energy and other costs.
“The benefits of using plants to clean the air were first discovered by Nasa [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] to provide a clean supply of air for astronauts in space,” says Mark Laurence, who runs Vertology, a UK-based company that designs and implements green walls for a variety of clients in Dubai and elsewhere. “Living walls have been popular in commercial spaces for a while, but we’re now seeing people commissioning them for their homes too.
“It’s a result of more awareness of the harmful substances [in] our homes, such as VOCs [volatile organic compounds], which a living wall can help remove from the air.”
Laurence says a living wall containing a variety of air-cleaning plants will also help hydrate the air, reducing irritations and preventing illness. “They have other benefits too, including improving concentration and enhancing the innate need for humans to have connectivity with the natural world, known as biophilia,” says Laurence.
If you’re remodelling or building afresh, take time to consider alternative ways of cooling your home. You’ll be surprised how stylish and contemporary they are, as well as the amount of money you’ll save, plus you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too.
Source: Ruth Khan, Special to Property Weekly