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Steady growth for cool roofs but not cool pavements, says US EPA

Body says communities and contractors more aware of urban heat island effect

| | Aug 9, 2018 | 4:03 pm
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Dubai, UAE, 9 August 2018: Communities and contractors are becoming aware of the heat island effect and its negative impact on environmental and public health, according to an unnamed source from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The term “Heat island” refers to built-up areas being hotter than nearby rural areas. “The annual mean air temperature of a city with one million people or more can be 1-3 degrees C warmer than its surroundings,” an EPA representative pointed out, “and in the evenings the difference can be as high as 12 degrees Celsius.” In line with this, the body revealed that there has been increased interest in cooling strategies such as trees and vegetation, green roofs, cool roofs and cool pavements. According to US EPA, while the market share of cool roofs across the US has grown steadily over the last few decades, cool pavements still have limited uptake.

“Cities have been concerned about urban heat for many years, and this concern has been steadily growing,” a representative from EPA said. “In general, as the first step to heat island mitigation, communities focus on tree planting and other greening efforts, such as increasing the number of parks. In addition, as noted above, several communities across the United States have adopted cool roof ordinances that require new structures or structures being re-roofed to use cooler options. Green roof ordinances and Green Building codes exist in some communities.” The US EPA’s ENERGY STAR programme, the representative said, has had a certification for cool roofing products since 1999.

While there has been positive momentum in the market penetration of both cool roofs and green roofs, with most cities across the US rolling out initiatives in this regard, the US EPA representative said cool pavements are not as widespread due to cost, lack of technical expertise in city governments and need for proven technologies.That being said, according to US EPA, communities are also increasingly considering cool pavements as a cooling option, and industry and academia are conducting more and more studies on cool pavements.

According to the US EPA, strategies to reduce the heat island effect are usually implemented at the local level, with local governments the main audience of EPA’s Heat Island Programme. Broadly touching on the bottlenecks with regard to implementation of new initiatives, the representative cited lack of staff time or resources, difficulty collaborating among multiple local departments and/or superseding priorities established by city leadership, as among the top issues to be addressed.


Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com

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