Energy & Environment Lab Mahila Housing SEWA Trust Project

Housing in low-income communities in India is often constructed with materials that absorb heat and require more energy to cool down. These communities often use cooling fans and air coolers for hours a day, raising their energy bills especially during summers. By shifting to passive cooling, these homes could be better adapted to days of extreme heat, which could make households less vulnerable to weather impacts and improve their resilience against climate change risks.

To address this challenge, the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago, EPIC-India and Energy and Environment Lab have partnered with the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT), to evaluate the effectiveness of using heat reflective paints on roofs in lowering indoor temperatures and improving quality of life. While these paints are widely used, there is little rigorous evidence on their effectiveness outside of small-scale pilots. MHT is painting the roofs of households with heat reflective paint in a resettlement colony in Delhi. The University of Chicago researchers are working with MHT to evaluate the impact of the paints on indoor temperatures, energy expenditures, and overall wellbeing.

This project was one of the winning ideas in the Delhi Innovation Challenge which was a joint initiative of the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago and the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi.