PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) - Last year, the City of Phoenix started the "Cool Pavement Pilot Program" in an effort to curb urban heat in nine different neighborhoods. The technology is designed to cool down the street pavement. "It is like sunscreen for the road so it reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere and keeps it from reaching the pavement," said Ryan Stevens, a civil engineer with the City of Phoenix.
One year later, the Phoenix and ASU researchers are now releasing the results. It found nighttime air temperatures were .5 degrees Fahrenheit lower in spots with the coating. "By keeping the solar energy out of the pavement in the first place, streets cool down faster, and we hope to see that reduce nighttime temperatures," said Stevens.
Meanwhile, surface temperatures on the "cool pavements" were 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler in the afternoon compared to regular asphalt. But there is a potential tradeoff, researchers found the heat exposure for people during the day was more than 5 degrees higher but still felt similar to walking on the sidewalk.
"That sunlight is going to come down and hit the ground and when it bounces back up, if a human is standing there it is going to hit the human," said Jennifer Vanos, an associate professor at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. With more research, experts hope curbing the urban heat can eventually reduce energy and air conditioning use down the line.