This Street Treatment Fights Extreme Heat

Applied to streets, parking lots, and other asphalt surfaces, a reflective epoxy coating can lower temperatures by as much as 10 degrees and cool neighborhoods vulnerable to extreme heat.

2 minute read

August 2, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

An innovative project in Pacoima, a community in the Los Angeles area, is using an epoxy acrylic coating to reflect heat that would otherwise be absorbed by asphalt and make the neighborhood hotter. “The coating is being applied to nearly 1 million square feet of roads, playgrounds and parking lots in a 10-block-area around [Hubert H. Humphrey Memorial Park]. About 7,300 people live within a half mile.” As Todd Woody reports in Bloomberg, “A 2020 study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the use of such coatings in two Los Angeles neighborhoods decreased pavement temperatures up to 10°.”

The GAF Cool Community Project is led by GAF and StreetBond. According to Jeff Terry, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at GAF, “Pacoima is one of the hottest parts of L.A. County and hasn't gotten the kind of investment like a lot of other communities. One of the challenges with urban heating is that it doesn't stop at night. Hopefully we're going to make this place a little bit more livable for the residents.”

Woody adds that “Heat maps released this month by the University of California at Los Angeles show that during days of extreme temperatures between 2009 and 2018, Pacoima residents made 19,009 excess emergency room visits. That’s more than seven times the number in Santa Monica, a similar-sized community in Los Angeles County” that benefits from ocean breezes, the article notes.

“You’ll find a three-or-fourfold difference between neighborhoods like Pacoima and wealthier, greener neighbors in the same climate zone,” says David Eisenman, a professor of medicine and public health and director at the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters.

“When the coating project is completed later this summer, residents will be able to step out of their homes and walk or bicycle with their children along cool streets to the neighborhood elementary school, where a large cool playground will feature a mural by a local artist painted in solar reflective colors.” The coating will also be applied to a basketball court and parking lots, and supporters hope the Pacoima project can serve as a model for others. “Over the next two years, a monitoring program will gather data to quantify temperature changes in the neighborhood that can be used to design cool pavement projects in other communities.”

Monday, July 25, 2022 in Bloomberg

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Street scene in Greenwich Village, New York City with people walking through busy intersection and new WTC tower in background.

Planning for Accessibility: Proximity is More Important than Mobility

Accessibility-based planning minimizes the distance that people must travel to reach desired services and activities. Measured this way, increased density can provide more total benefits than increased speeds.

April 14, 2024 - Todd Litman

Wood-frame two-story rowhouses under construction.

Fair Housing Cannot Take a Back Seat to ‘Build, Baby, Build’

If we overlook fair housing principles in the plan to build US housing back better, we risk ending up right back where we started.

April 11, 2024 - James Jennings

"No 710" lawn sign on green lawn.

LA Metro Board Approves New 710 Freeway Plan

The newest plan for the 710 corridor claims it will not displace any residents.

6 hours ago - Streetsblog LA

Close-up of row of electric cars plugged into chargers at outdoor station.

Austin’s Proposed EV Charging Rules Regulate Station Locations, Size

City planners say the new rules would ensure an efficient distribution of charging infrastructure across the city and prevent an overconcentration in residential areas.

7 hours ago - Austin Monitor

Green hills with orange California poppies in bloom in foreground in Chino Hills State Park, California.

Making California State Parks More Climate-Resilient

A recently released report offers recommendations for keeping state parks healthy and robust, including acquiring additional land for conservation and recreation.

April 22 - Spectrum News 1

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.