Scientists are Trying Painted Streets to Beat the Heat

Scientists are currently entertaining and experimenting with a simple idea to beat the heat: paint black asphalt white.

Ronnen Levinson of California’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory said that it could possible reduce to heat island effect, which plagues many urban areas, increasing temperatures.

“If you reduce the absorption of sunlight you can lower its temperature,” Levinson said. “That’s the idea behind the cool pavements.”

It’s a bit more complicated than using simple hardware store paint to cause an age-old civic problem though.

“The tests that have been done so far have usually been done with paints that are some combination of cement and polymer,” said Levinson.

Scientists have already been experimenting with painted streets in Los Angeles and areas of Northern California. The greatest impact, according to scientists will be from energy savings and lowered power costs. Other benefits include a decrease in smog formation and the concentration of ozone in urban areas.

Cost, however, has not been factored into the equation yet, and the experiment is in its early stages, so white streets in Phoenix may be a few years away.

Other strategies scientists are considering include shade trees and reflective roofs. 

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