TreeHugger wonders if air conditioning is making people fat. The presumably svelte Lloyd Alter examines a study from the University of Birmingham's David Allison that suggests this is indeed the case. Alter also injects a bit of worldly personal experience: "In Italy, people often live in apartments with thick walls that resist the heat, and as seen in the photo I took in Milan last month, everybody has external shutters pulled down to keep the heat out. Not many people have air conditioning because they know how to keep cool. Few of the people I saw there were obese."


The San Francisco Chronicle provides a few crucial improvement safety tips. Rule number one: keep a first aid kit within close reach. Also, don't wear dangling jewelry, long sleeves, or your Commes des Garçons trousers.


Inhabitat shares a few basic, no-brainer ways to keep cool at home this summer while saving yourself from egregious electric bills. On the list: dress appropriately, avoid heat-generating appliances and electronics, and treat your air conditioner to a seasonal tune-up.


The Los Angeles Times previews the works of "bubbletecture" (read: inflatable structures) that will be on display at this weekend's Dwell on Design conference (sadly, I won't be in attendance this year as I'll trapped in a giant bubble known as Brooklyn). Says Michael Sylvester, managing director of Dwell on Design: “There's something about bubbles and air and transparency in a structure that fascinate everyone. Bubbles are temporary things. They're not meant to work as structures. There's an improbability about them that almost seems like magic.” Click here for more early impressions from this year's big, bubble-rific show.


The New York Times notes that with the sales of A.C. units booming in countries like China and India (air conditioners are the new status symbol of the growing middle class in developing countries, "a must-have dowry item"), so is the concern over the impact that coolant gases are having on the planet. Although ozone-depleting CFC coolants were stamped out after the 1987 Montreal Protocol, their "environmentally friendly" replacements, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), still present a devastating effect on the planet: the global warming effect of these new coolants is 2,100 times that of carbon dioxide.


Grist responds to the above NY Times article with a tongue-in-cheek dispatch/tantrum from blogger Philip Bump: "For me, sitting in New York City where the temperature is still hot (as I won’t shut up about), this article is basically like The New York Times decided to tell me that my best friend is the world’s biggest jerk. I know that, New York Times. I know my best friend is a jerk. But he is my best friend."


Also over at the New York Times, Elizabeth Rosenthal admits to suffering from a fierce case of air conditioner envy. She's holding out for a not-yet-commericially available unit that runs on hydrocarbons.


The Wall Street Journal tours a prefab "weeHouse" in Minneapolis that, at 2,900-square-feet, isn't really so wee at all. The normal-sized modular residence (hey, it's small at heart) was designed by Alchemy Architects and is owned by Kaywin Feldman, director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and her husband Jim Lutz, a sustainable architecture professor at the University of Minnesota.


The Atlantic Cities is here to remind us that although air conditioners may be a contributor to global warming and may be linked to obesity, the chances that one will fall out of a window and kill you as you walk on the street below are pretty slim.





Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: June 2012, A.C.
As much of the country sizzles during the first week of summer, air conditioners — in all of their global warming-causing, envy-inducing, but probably not dea