Berkeley Lab’s Mexico Energy Initiative (MEI) participated in the second workshop launching the partnership of the state of Sonora with the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA), a global initiative that facilitates access to technical assistance and industry engagement for member cities advancing building energy efficiency. The event was held in Hermosillo by the Commission of Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora (CEDES) with attendance by government officials, experts from research institutions in the state, construction professionals, and representatives of building technology companies.

MEI’s participation in the workshop was part of the activities of the Mexico Cooling Initiative, a comprehensive strategy devised with support from USAID to address the impacts of the increasing use of energy for air conditioning in Mexico. Dr. Michael McNeil, MEI’s Lead, highlighted the growing use of air conditioners around the world and the urbanization trends that will dramatically increase ownership of AC equipment in the country (from 14% of all urban households to 45% by 2050) with related economic and environmental impacts.

In the case of Sonora, located in a hot-dry environment in Northern Mexico, average temperatures in the summer months approach 105 degrees F; the state registers the highest electricity consumption of electricity for cooling in the country. Dr. McNeil announced that MEI will be conducting a field study to measure the consumption of electricity by mini-split air conditioners at a sample of households in Hermosillo with good time resolution (~15 min) for entire cooling season (May-Oct).

As part of the commitments made by Sonora in joining BEA (2017), at the policy level the state will implement adjustment infrastructure measures on buildings under CEDES coordination and will set up a pilot program for retrofit of municipal buildings. The Mexico Office of the World Resources Institute (WRI) will coordinate local BEA partners in this collaboration.

The presentation delivered by Dr. McNeil can be viewed here


A recent analysis by Berkeley Lab on the importance of space cooling (air conditioning) in Mexico’s energy landscape found that this use accounted for a summer electricity consumption increase by 30%; represents nine percent of total electricity use and produces a peak electricity demand of 7.5 GW. In addition, space cooling absorbs over $US 3 billion per year in energy bills and subsidies, generates 10 million metric tons of CO2 and creates a peak demand that is not well correlated to renewable resources. The research, titled “Mexico Cooling Fact Book” and led by Michael McNeil, Director of the Mexico Energy Initiative at Berkeley Lab (MEI), concludes that cooling energy in Mexico is projected to double by 2030 and increase by a factor of 3.5 by 2050, following global trends.

In light of the importance of space cooling in Mexico’s energy system, as well as the available tools to mitigate its impacts (e.g. equipment efficiency and advanced construction), MEI partnered with USAID’s Office of Energy and Infrastructure, Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER) and the National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy (CONUEE) to organize the workshop “Summit on Space Cooling Research Needs and Opportunities in Mexico”, held in February 2018 at Casa de la Universidad de California in Mexico City.

The potential opportunities to reduce energy cooling demand and related environmental impacts were highlighted in remarks made during the opening of the workshop by Santiago Creuheras, Director General for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at SENER, Carlos Ortiz, Director General for Research, Technological Development and Human Resource Training (SENER) and Odón de Buen, Director General of CONUEE. Monica Bansal, Deputy Energy Division Chief at USAID’s Energy and Infrastructure Office, stated that the workshop was intended to serve as a first step toward the possible development of R&D projects in the field.

In this unique event, representatives from Mexican federal and state government agencies, research centers, HVAC and construction industries, NGO’s and international organizations discussed opportunities, barriers and solutions to lowering cooling energy consumption in six areas of practice: equipment efficiency standards, voluntary adoption programs, technology R&D, building codes, cool roof surfaces and advanced building design and operation. The break-out sessions, coordinated by representatives of partner institutions set the stage for a Mexico Cooling Initiative with goals to cut cooling energy demand by half versus Business-As-Usual and save 100 billion dollars of electricity costs and subsidies by 2050. The workshop program included panel discussions with representatives from Industry and international cooperation organizations.

MEI will produce a summary of the conclusions of the workshop for wide distribution to all participants and other stakeholders. It will also support the establishment of a “community of practice” around space cooling in Mexico as a next step in the development of the Mexico Cooling Initiative.