Los Angeles covers 1 million square feet of roads to be specially painted to cool the city

The GAF Cool Community Project recently completed a task that had it map one million square feet (92,903 square meters) of roads, playgrounds, and parking lots in the Los Angeles, California, Paquima neighborhood.

Although the group invited artists to paint some murals on the grounds, the need to not be distracted by the roads meant that, for the most part, drivers might not notice any color change. However, they may feel the effects of the paint, according to the Fast Company.

That’s because the paint used is made by Streetbond, a subsidiary of GAF, and is called “Invisible Shade.” It promises to reflect sunlight off the streets, and hopefully calm society.

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The paint is used to combat something called the urban heat island effect, where cities get hotter than neighboring rural areas. This phenomenon occurs as a result of several factors, including the lack of trees that provide shade, the heat of human activity, and so on.

However, one reason behind this effect is the massive amounts of concrete and asphalt in cities, which absorb and trap heat, making cities hotter. It’s a widely felt phenomenon and has led cities like New York to paint their rooftops in reflective white to help drive out some of the heat.

However, the Invisible Shade paint used in this project is smarter. The manufacturer says that it not only reflects light in the visible spectrum, but also reflects light in the infrared spectrum, which is where the majority of the sun’s heat comes from.

Reflective paint, no matter how clever, won’t solve global warming, but it could make cities more livable. The results of this project are only anecdotal, but so far, the coating appears to have cooled the surface of Paquema’s painted areas by 10 to 12 degrees. The company will now spend the next two years studying the paint’s effects closely to see how well it works.

“The ultimate goal is not just to lower the ambient temperature of the community, but to see how it affects the livelihoods of people in the community,” says Jeff Terry, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at GAF.

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