Many buildings heated with electricity, oil, or natural gas also have equipment such as generators or refrigeration systems that – ironically – release waste heat into the atmosphere.

Patrick Hamilton, the Director of Global Change Initiatives for the Science Museum of Minnesota, explains how a process called “heat recovery” makes buildings more energy efficient.

HAMILTON: “Instead of allowing that heat to escape into the atmosphere, we capture it through the use of a reverse heat engine and then we transfer it to coils that are used to heat incoming air.”

By capturing excess heat in the cooler months, and better positioning fans to move air when it’s hot outdoors, the science museum expects to save over two hundred thousand dollars a year in heating and cooling expenses. Although heat recovery systems are still relatively rare, Hamilton sees change coming.

HAMILTON: “What excites me is, is the potential for economic employment and environmental benefits. So my goal is that the Science Museum of Minnesota help catalyze more, better and faster advanced heat recovery in buildings anywhere and everywhere.”

The Science Museum of Minnesota has invested in energy efficiency because it saves them money … and it’s good for the climate!

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Science Museum of Minnesota
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Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...