Keeping Cool in Southeast Asia: Energy Consumption and Urban Air-Conditioning

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Keeping Cool in Southeast Asia: Energy Consumption and Urban Air-Conditioning, ISBN-13: 978-1137308825

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  • Series: Energy, Climate and the Environment
  • 257 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2014 edition (April 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137308826
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137308825


Against the backdrop of the environmental impact of household electricity consumption and the history of cooling practices, Marlyne Sahakian considers how people keep cool, from Metro Manila to other mega-cities in Southeast Asia.

We are living in an urban world. Over half the world’s population is estimated to reside in urban centers, with a concentration of urban population growth in less-developed regions, particularly in Asia, which is home to 11 mega-cities (cities with a population of over 10 million people). Most of these metropolitan areas are in warm to hot climates. One challenge lies in anticipating the energy requirements of these urban populations for keeping cool, particularly as increases in affluence can translate to a moving-up on the energy ladder from biomass to fossil fuels, and from fans to air-conditioning. This book is focused on a specific form of consumption directly related to energy, climate and the environment: electricity consumption for residential cooling in Southeast Asia’s mega-cities. It takes on the question of how people go about keeping cool in their everyday lives in Metro Manila, the Philippines, and how this relates to efforts to reduce energy consumption towards more ‘sustainable’ consumption patterns – reflecting as well on other mega-cities in the region.


‘This book represents a tour de force of interdisciplinary applied research. Dr Sahakian investigates energy use practices in the rising nations of Southeast Asia and uncovers startling insights and necessary proposals for tackling the conundrum of providing “comfort” for all in the age of climate change.’ – Julia Steinberger, University of Leeds, UK

‘Focusing on four Asian cities, this book uses an innovative practice theory approach to interrogate a lurking but largely neglected climate-related threat the growth in urban air-conditioning. The findings form a solid basis for an urgently needed public debate on the future of indoor thermal comfort and for guarded optimism on the potential for less energy-intensive cooling options.’ – Harold Wilhite, University of Oslo, Norway

‘While concerns about unsustainable consumption first emerged in Europe and North America, it is apparent that Asia will be at the center of future efforts to adapt consumer practices to biophysical realities. Because of its simultaneous connections to both physical comfort and social status, air-conditioning will be an especially salient regional issue. Keeping Cool in Southeast Asia is a timely and important study of the untoward interactions between societal aspirations and modern technologies.’ – Maurie J. Cohen, New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA

About the Author

Marlyne Sahakian is a Research Associate in the Industrial Ecology Group at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She has carried out research primarily in the Philippines, with a focus on sustainable consumption practices and patterns. She has published on consumption, development, energy use and the solidarity economy.

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