Could high-tech clothing counteract climate change? Bay Area Startup thinks so – San Francisco Chronicle | WHs Answers

Heating and cooling buildings consumes energy. Refrigeration, the larger consumer, accounts for about one-fifth of energy use in the United States, according to the US Energy Information Administration — and that number is expected to increase rapidly as the world warms.

Stanford professor Yi Cui wants to put a stop to this with “smart clothing” that keeps wearers cool or warm so they don’t have to turn up the thermostat or turn down the air conditioning.

His startup LifeLabs in Sunnyvale sells clothing that looks and performs like regular athletic wear, but is made from high-tech fabrics he invented to help regulate body temperature.

“We expend so much energy cooling in the summer and warming in the winter to keep people comfortable indoors,” said Cui, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University and director of the Precourt Institute for Energy. “If the air conditioning could get 3 degrees Celsius warmer in the summer, you could save about 30% of a building’s energy consumption. Every 1 degree Celsius saves 10%.”

In winter, the opposite would be true: conserve energy by turning down the thermostat when clothing could keep people warmer.

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