September 2011

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New Course Now Available--Introduction to Commercial Greenrealestate

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Chilling Our Cities with Cool Pavements

As we approach winter, itís time to size up our properties, prepare a mental to-do checklist for next yearís outdoor barbecue season and finally brace ourselves for the long cold Canadian winter. But as our warm summer days diminish into fall, itís an apropos time to introduce you to some decidedly fresh subject matter: cool pavements.

If youíve ever walked barefoot over a steaming hot asphalt driveway, you know that these surfaces soak up much of the sunís energy and emit heat back into the air. Even though concrete is a lighter coloured surface it also darkens over time and manages to heat up thanks to the accumulation of tire residue, dirt and oil.

Neither asphalt nor concrete allow rainwater to be absorbed and cool the area. Similarly, interlocking bricks installed on top of limestone screenings or other materials that reduce drainage will contribute to a hotter environment.
Concrete and asphalt can reach peak summertime temperatures of between 48 and 67 degrees C. Thatís a lot of hot air left to blow off especially after sundown. And in many urban centres, pavements represent the largest area of land cover (estimates range from 29 to 45 per cent) when compared with surfaces covered by roofs and vegetation. This contributes to warmer urban areas which can lead to a host of problems such as possible water quality issues from storm water being heated up.

This phenomenon is known as an urban heat island, a contained microclimate in cities in which building materials such as concrete, pavement and asphalt shingles radiate the heat theyíve absorbed. Temperatures are always considerably hotter than the suburbs, rural areas and small towns.

Enter cool pavements, which are new technologies that store less heat and have lower surface temperatures than conventional products. Advocates say cool pavements provide numerous advantages including reduced smog and air pollution, longer pavement durability, better visibility for drivers, and less energy use. Perhaps one of their biggest immediate benefits is in reducing the effects of heat stroke and other heat-related effects, especially for the elderly.

The technology for cool pavements is still developing and there is no official standard or labelling program for cool pavements in Canada. Generally though, cool pavements have increased solar reflectance and use permeable material which allows water and air through it. They are distinguished by lighter colours than black. They can be created with asphalt and concrete as well as newer approaches such as the use of coatings or grass paving. This summer in Phoenix citizens got a taste of a large cool pavement after a solar reflective coating was applied to a 90,000 square foot asphalt parking lot. The result? A green-coloured parking lot and a ground heat reduction of about 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Large parking lots, terminals, airfields, urban roadways and large paved areas are especially suitable for cool pavements, but homeowners concerned about the environment and saving energy costs would be also wise to consider cool pavements or at least consider using materials that are more reflective and porous.

Be sure to let your clients know about this ground-breaking technology. Theyíll see you as leading edge, well-informed and well-intentioned. And that, my friends, is really cool.


Elden Freeman B.A., M.E.S, Broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB). He cares passionately about the environment and practices what he preaches, powering his house with solar panels, driving an eco friendly Toyota Yaris and biking when possible. Freeman says he believes that Realtors across Canada can play an important role in educating their clients on increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (877) 524-9494 ;

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