The Green Corridor: Your Own Private Cold Chain

How to Escape Heat Islands and Help the Environment

by Timothy Foote, Director Transportation & Network APAC at Asendia and Founder of Susymbio

This time of year in Southeast Asia is stifling hot. As the saying goes, “it’s not the heat – it’s the humidity!” This is actually the case here in our region. In response to this heat most every space we are working in has air conditioners to cool up our working space. And they are hard at work – believe it. Most of us working in cities and towns are part of a “cold chain”. All in the effort to get productive efforts out of our bodies that in times of high heat tends to shut down. Think of yourself as a head of lettuce! When you get too hot, you start to wilt. When our bodies are too cold we can also start to shut off from every activity apart from trying to get warm.

Is there an environmental cost to all of this temperature control? You bet. There is a lot of cost all around. Just paying the electric bills for running AC can cost families a tidy sum of money. It’s the reason that people are always much more cost conscious of keeping AC low at home or even switching to fans in order to keep electricity costs down. Those miserly actions make sense; in a recent article in Channel News Asia online it was reported that for an average family living in an apartment in Singapore up to 25% of the electricity used went to air conditioning. Emissions for a standard Singapore home are also annually greater for air conditioning than from automobiles. Commercial buildings are even more energy hungry. The average office uses 40% to 50% of their electricity bills to pay for air conditioning.

Air conditioners don’t actually cool an area but more to the point they move the heat somewhere else. Anyone walking on our city streets will experience that heat blowout when the units are close to ground level. It can be a real steam bath! In fact it is one of the major factors in creating what is known as urban “heat islands”. In Singapore that can mean a difference of up to 7 degrees! To get to our artificially created heat islands, we have busses and transport that also blast AC so that we don’t wilt when travelling about.


Many of our older relatives could tell us about life without AC. Many parts of the world still do not have it. When I go on diving trips in our region, I’m often in accommodations without AC and I am still very happy to be there. Part of the reasons for this is that I am not surrounded by buildings pumping hot air into the environment. Another factor is the use of natural shade and some sort of breeze – which is common when away from the city.

When cities became more dense, the breeze and shade disappear. Additionally the AC units came into play as the windows remained shut for good. The spiral to then keep pumping more cool air while making the outside hotter results in where we are at todaybut there have been changes to this picture which help reduce energy consumption and at the same time keep us fresh and crunchy.


Serious action plans for saving energy includes the reduction of its use altogether. Let people work in cooler locations other than the heat islands of our cities:

  • Shrink the area you need for office space by allowing working from homes
  • Scrapping the nine-to-five! Simply adjust working times to the cooler parts of the day while resting
    in cooler areas during the super-hot mid-day

Other strategies that modern managers use will sound similar to those used for shipping cargo in a cold chain:

  • Reflect the sun’s heat by using reflective paints
  • Catch the sun’s heat by collecting it with solar panels or rooftop gardens
  • Use sensors to turn down cooling systems when the outside temperature changes
  • Use shades to keep building surfaces cooler
  • Use water and chiller-type units to take heat away instead of using conventional air-conditioners
  • Let the wind back into buildings by using large fans instead of AC

As workers, we all want to stay fresh and comfortable. Doing that well should mean that the urban heat islands are minimised significantly. If we can manage that we’ll be doing ourselves and the planet a favour.


About the Author

Timothy Foote
Director, Transportation & Network APAC at Asendia and Founder of Susymbio

Tim has worked in management positions at multiple MNCs for more than 25 years, gaining expansive expertise in logistical operations. Tim continues to craft delivery solutions for many e-commerce clients at Asendia. Once a regional Head of Go Green at DHL eCommerce, Tim now works for customers to decarbonise their logistics by managing Asendia’s 100% carbon-neutral network.

To further promote a net zero future for the logistics industry, Tim created MOVE GREEN. This is a movement committed to greening the logistics industry during this time of transformation. Please join the companies making a pledge to become net zero by going to for more details.

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