While once a luxury, air conditioning has now become an indispensable feature of many American homes and businesses. At R.L. Craig Company, we provide solutions for many process applications where the objective of air-conditioning systems is not only to control temperature, but also humidity, air quality and air movement. Here are five areas where air conditioning has greatly contributed to manufacturing and society.

1. Cities

For buildings and the city spaces they occupy, air-conditioning has been a game-changer. Before air conditioning, houses were designed with airflow in mind – more windows, higher ceilings, deeper porches. Today, houses are designed not for ventilation, but for central cooling systems. Air conditioning has had a profound effect not only on how people live and work, but also where: air conditioning made possible America’s dramatic population shift to the Sun Belt, turning cities once considered virtually uninhabitable during summer months into desirable locations.

For more on air conditioning and refrigeration’s history and role in society, see Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century. And stay tuned for our next couple of blog posts, where we’ll take a closer look at HVAC in healthcare and commercial spaces.

2. Clean Rooms

Air acts as a vehicle for bacterial and gaseous contaminants. Because many of these airborne contaminants are harmful either to products or people working in the “clean rooms” of manufacturers’ research facilities, their removal is crucial. That is why a very high level of air cleanliness and control of temperature and humidity is essential for a wide range of research facilities.

3. Large Commercial Spaces

Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, shopping malls, even sports stadiums – all of these are spaces wherein thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality are desired. Of course, a commercial kitchen will need more cooling power than a small retail space, and a stadium built to host the World Cup in a Middle Eastern desert has different air-conditioning needs that an office building.

4. Healthcare

In today’s hospital environment, some specialist procedures, like open-heart surgery, require low temperatures, while others, such as neonatal, necessitate relatively high temperatures. Moreover, healthcare facilities’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems provide ventilation that maintains appropriate indoor air quality, prevents the spread of infection, and preserves a sterile environment for patients and staff.

5. Electronics

Heat is a potent enemy of most electronic equipment. Computers, for example, generate a lot of heat, requiring direct cooling constantly to prevent them from burning out. “The development of the entire IT industry might not have happened without cooling technologies first pioneered by air conditioning,” The Atlantic says.