Although there are plenty of factors that contribute to temperature increase in cities, perhaps one of the humblest is the ubiquitous asphalt. Blacktop roads cover anywhere from 24 to 35 percent of city area and each one absorbs the daytime heat, releasing it in the evening and increasing overall city temperature. That’s why the Cool Change Cities Project is asking: why not just use lighter asphalt to help reduce temperatures?
It’s estimated that asphalt increases temperature in cities by up to 12ºF. But changing the surface of roads to something lighter, like a pale resin mix or lighter rocks, could give roads a cooler surface. Add to that more trees to provide shade for the road surface and you could potentially cut temperatures, and with it energy costs, across the country.
According to the project’s leader Michael Mobbs, a recent example of changing to a pale road cost $58 million and produced energy savings of $57 million. Just imagine how much energy we could save by simply changing how we surface roads. Couple the idea with white roofing and you could bring about some very real change without having to really altering much at all.