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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
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 ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you require support or information, please call 877-524-9494, or email