Reflective Roads Cool Neighbourhoods

L.A.’s new reflective streets bounce heat back into space to make the air much, much cooler -

with beneficial implications for residents of sweltering cities worldwide.

Following a recent OGN Good News Nugget about researchers at Purdue University developing a paint so white that coating a building with it could eliminate the need for air conditioning, there's more good news from Los Angeles of a similar theme.


When the scientists aboard the International Space Station direct their thermal camera at LA, standing out from the hot red and orange blobs is a swathe of cool, blueish white deep in the San Fernando Valley.


Greg Spotts, the city's Chief Sustainability Officer is proud of these wintry-looking pixels - not many people can say their work is visible from space! In this area, the roads have been painted with a special reflective coating. “Previously, our measurements were focused on measuring the surface temperature of the roadway itself, which showed a difference of 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit on hot days,” he adds. The satellite thermal camera is significant, however, because it shows that the special cooling surfaces not only lowers the temperature on the road, but “produces a cooler neighborhood” in general.


So, with white roofs and reflective roads, it's now looking like a sure-fire way of cooling everybody in the vicinity.


The Greek islanders of Santorini, with their whitewashed earthen buildings, similar to the pueblos blancos villages in Spain, were on to something: white surfaces keep houses and neighbourhoods cooler. To this end, New York City has added white, reflective coatings to more than 10 million square feet of rooftop over the last decade. And Los Angeles has installed more than 30 million square feet of cool roofs as part of its new building code.


This month, more trucks will roll through West Hollywood and South L.A. to spray white coating on ten streets. And, no doubt, a great deal more will follow across the US and in cities elsewhere around the world too.

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