It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here!

Posted on June 1, 2011. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

I would not suggest that you touch the surface of an asphalt parking lot this week.  As summer temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic soar, effects stemming from the phenomenon called the urban heat-island exacerbate and become much more pronounced.

The average high air temperature in Washington, DC during the month of June is roughly 85 degrees.  But surface temps of black asphalt (parking lots, driveways, and roads), which absorb energy from the sun, can exceed 40 degrees over the high air temperature.  This means that on an especially swampy day, you could literally fry an egg on the asphalt (although a solar cooker would aid that process immensely)!

Leading climate scientists have come out with studies showing that large American cities could be in serious danger if climate change and increased urbanization continue unabated.  Cities like Chicago have begun to enact long-term climate change adaptation into their city plans as city leaders realize that smaller changes now can save huge amounts of effort and money in the future.  Changes such as increasing tree cover and green roofs, using lighter/more reflective surfaces for asphalt, and replacing non-porous concrete and road surface with permeable pavement could all help to alleviate worsening urban heat-island effects.

Phoenix, known for its blistering summer temps, recently approved the installation of a “cool-surface” parking lot to help battle its own urban heat-island effects.  Emerald Cities Cool Pavement, the company installing the lot in Phoenix is utilizing high performance solar reflective coating to achieve its goals of decreasing surface lot temperatures, reducing smog, and sealing/preserving asphalt cover to prolong lot life.

Seemingly simple innovations such as cool-surface parking lots can go a long way in helping our urban areas confront and adapt to climate change.


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