Snow cleared from winter roads can help reduce summer air-conditioning bills, a study suggests.

A computer modeling exercise undertaken by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that directing a building’s air-handling units through a snow dump—snow collected and stored from winter road-clearing operations—can reduce the need to use air conditioning during warmer parts of the year.

Rehan Sadiq, professor of engineering (l), and Kasun Hewage, associate professor of engineering.Rehan Sadiq, professor of engineering (l), and Kasun Hewage, associate professor of engineering.“What this study shows is that it is possible to use snow to reduce electricity consumption in structures such as apartment buildings,” says Kasun Hewage, associate professor of engineering. “We now know that using material from snow dumps to cool buildings can also help to reduce the greenhouse gases that air-conditioning units emit.”

The study included simulations for large buildings and accounted for the different types of equipment needed in both conventional systems with industrial cooling units and snow dump-based systems, which insulate snow collected during winter months to use during the summer.

“While further research is needed, the potential of this type of system to be used for large buildings and institutions looks promising,” says Rehan Sadiq, professor of engineering. “Aside from making good use of waste material, this type of system could eventually help large organizations such as municipalities recoup some of the considerable costs associated with snow removal.”

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