We joke a little about the long history of air conditioning, but I’ve actually just recently acquired a book on the history of the HVAC & R industry called Heat & Cold: Mastering the Great Indoors.
Comfort is an underrated human need. We all know about food, water, shelter and companionship, but once you have those, how do you go about improving them?
The elite worldwide community of air conditioning service mechanics may not have badges and secret handshakes like the Freemasons, but we certainly have history on our side. As I dig into the book, full of science and stories and laws and illustrations, it’s inspired me to dig a little further.
We’re in the United States, where modern building materials are in vogue, but much of the world’s population still uses local, natural material to put a roof over their heads, and in many cases, to cool and dehumidify.
Enter Earth Architecture, now available in paperback on Amazon. It’s a survey by Ronald Rael on the creative use of dirt,l soil, and clay to fulfill the need of shelter, and then to improve on that shelter. We’re proud of the buildings we contribute to as a distributor of HVAC systems, but there’s something that tugs at us when we read about earth domes known as Yakhchal that functioned as refrigerators over 2400 years ago.
By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.
I’m guessing that when it gets up to 140 degrees, the brain starts coming up with some sophisticated ways to escape the heat, especially when the Emperor starts making noise about looking for competing bids from the Achaeans (losing bids were treated a little different than today – where did you think heads rolling came from?). It’s fascinating, but not that surprising that human beings used what is most plentiful to figure out how to preserve food and make frozen treats. Just don’t expect one of these to pop up anytime soon in Addison.