‘Cool pavements’ reflect more solar radiation and emit less heat than conventional paving surfaces. Pavements are notorious for heating up cities, by re-emitting solar radiation from the sun. In some cities, they have been found to increase air temperature as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit, contributing to health and environmental risks. Researchers at MIT have found a way to reduce this threat, by creating ‘cool pavements’ that reflect more solar radiation and emit less heat than conventional paving surfaces. Pavements are an abundant urban surface, covering around 40 percent of American cities. But in addition to carrying traffic, they can also emit heat. Due to what’s called the urban heat island effect, densely built, impermeable surfaces like pavements can absorb solar radiation and warm up their surroundings by re-emitting that radiation as heat. This phenomenon poses a serious threat to cities. It increases air temperatures by up as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit and contributes to health and environmental risks — risks that climate change will magnify. In response, researchers at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (MIT CSHub) are studying how a surface that ordinarily heightens urban heat islands can instead lessen their intensity. Their research focuses on “cool […]

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