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Lagosian can hardly forget the heatwave that swept across the state a few weeks ago. Despite being a reoccurring natural phenomenon, the erratic power supply even made the impact more gruelling with the logged daily temperature well above 360C according to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).
Asides being a natural phenomenon, the tropical weather in Lagos and its status as an Urban Heat Island makes it even more susceptible to a higher risk of increased future warming. It is therefore pertinent that we start infusing microclimate in all our civil applications and urban designs.
While we wait for the final onset of the rainy season to further cushion the effect of the heat, below are a few tips on how to modify your microclimate and improve your thermal comfort that knows no social class.
1. Tree Planting:
This is one of the simplest and cheapest solutions to mitigating the effect of the urban heat island. Trees, often referred to as nature’s climate air conditioners are known to remove and store excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as they grow. It is expected of all communities, private estates and Local Council Development Areas to embark on tree planting projects and protect existing ones. This gesture will not only Improve the immediate air quality but also improve the physiological comfort of inhabitants.
2 Use of paint shades:
With high intrinsic brightness: Asides tree planting, the choice of paint colour for building exterior can affect the amount of heat that comes through the walls. It is often advisable to use lighter colours that absorb lesser than dark or dull colours which will absorb much of the sun’s radiant energy.
3. Use of heat reflective roofs:
The roof of a building is the most important aspect of a building. Having a black roof will absorb almost all the sunlight’s energy while roofs made of reflective paints will reflect most of it. Today, almost all paint manufacturing companies now produce and market several brands of heat reflective paint brand that can be used for building exterior and rooftops.
Use of green roofs can as well harness the evaporative cooling effect that most cities like Lagos lose when they clear natural vegetation for urban expansion. It will not just prevent the building’s roof from absorbing heat but cool the air around it.
The use of solar panels is another alternative. Since they are dark, they absorb most of the sunlight energy that falls on them, turning a portion of that energy into electricity that can be used in the house.
4. Grasses as an alternative to concrete floors:
Concrete floor no doubt reduces evapotranspiration and increase sensible heat. Concrete floors can be replaced with grasses or pervious interlocking stones to reduce the heat effect.
5. Building Orientation:
Before embarking on that construction, discuss with your architect about your preference for a well-ventilated structure. Architects are well acquainted with the knowledge of building climatology and can help with the best design to harness natural breeze to the building’s advantage. In addition, glass buildings within the built-up areas are expected to have an effective internal cooling system to minimize the greenhouse effect.
And so, it is quite easy from the aforementioned tips, to see that a few minor and major variation can produce the microclimate you desire. It is also noteworthy to consider other features like proximity to large buildings, roadways and other urban features that retain heat, proximity to water bodies, windbreaks, structural alignment, shade-producing features, topography and soil conditions.