…Another category of heat source that researchers have inventoried in a city is from human activity, known as anthropogenic. Conventional air conditioning, for example, pumps the heat that is inside a building to the outside where it contributes to higher ambient temperatures. Driving motor vehicles, particularly those with internal combustion engines, adds to the heat through hot gases coming out of the tailpipe, rolling tire resistance, and heat radiating from the engine and other parts. One estimate is that 93% of the chemical energy in automobile fuel becomes sensible heat in the environment.
Air conditioning is vital to the continued survival of San Antonio, but there are alternative technologies that could be used to avoid pumping hot air into the environment. One of the best puts heat in the relatively cool ground instead of the already hot air. The largest application of this in the U.S. may be the Whisper Valley housing development in Austin. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has suggested using the vast municipal water pipe network as the connection with the ground as opposed to installing expensive new underground pipe. This could be a new revenue opportunity for the San Antonio Water System utility.
Read the full opinion here.