How Smart Surfaces Improve Resilience

April 6, 2018

Widespread implementation of smart surfaces makes cities healthier and more energy-efficient

To bolster resilience and sustainability at your organization, the surfaces of your facilities could be the answer. Delivering Urban Resilience, a report written by clean energy advisory firm Capital E, identifies the adoption of smart surface technologies as a means to healthier and more cost-effective urban areas.

Testing Smart Surface Technology

The report examines how citywide measures to bring smart surface technologies to cities would affect three urban areas: Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and El Paso, TX. The authors concluded that with improvements to surfaces, cities could become more resilient, improve health and comfort, reduce energy costs, and mitigate climate change and excess heat.

“Cities are increasingly at risk from hurricanes and severe summer heat,” says lead author Greg Kats. “This report shows how citywide adoption of these smart surface technologies would save cities billions of dollars and cut greenhouse gasses while achieving transformative benefits like making cities cooler, more resilient, healthier and more equitable.”

The report highlights a number of smart surface technologies, including:

  • Solar PV roofs
  • Cool roofs
  • Green roofs
  • Porous and high albedo pavements
  • Trees

By implementing these technologies – or any combination of them – facilities can contribute to reducing costs associated with poor air quality, pollution and excess heat. Investment in smart surface technologies would yield $1.8 billion in Washington, D.C., $3.6 billion in Philadelphia and $540 million in El Paso over 40 years.

“Overall, the smart surface solutions evaluated in this report are cost-effective and generally provide large positive net benefits,” according to the report. “The payback time for these solutions varies greatly: cool roofs offer very fast payback in all cases, while several other solutions offer the largest net benefit in one or more city.”

This is the beginning of the Smart Surfaces revolution,” says former Austin, TX, Mayor Will Wynn. “Delivering Urban Resilience provides an entirely convincing case that citywide adoption of ‘smart surfaces’ like green and cool roofs and porous pavements are both cost-effective and essential to ensuring that our cities remain livable in a warming world.”

For more details, check out the full report or a summary.

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