CA Reflective Coating Project Gives Update


The first phase of an initiative to mitigate urban heat in Los Angeles using solar reflective coatings, including application on over 700,000 square feet of asphalt roads and public areas, has reportedly helped cool down the community.

The Cool Community Project from roofing firm GAF, alongside its street coating arm Streetbond and city officials, covers a 10-block radius in the neighborhood of Pacoima.

“This is one of the hottest neighborhoods in Los Angeles,” said Streetbond general manager Eliot Wall. “There's not a lot of alternative solutions. There are not a lot of shade structures. There are not a lot of trees—things that we also believe are necessary to help combat this—but this was something that without any other structural changes you could do tomorrow.”

GAF Cool Community Project

First launched in March 2022, the GAF Cool Community Project was designed to assess and help mitigate the impacts of urban heat on a community. The initiative was a partnership between GAF and Climate Resolve, the Global Cool Cities Alliance, local community and organizations.

The research project is expected to be multi-phased, with hopes to understand the impacts that urban heat and cooling solutions have on the livability of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacoima. The company aims to take the learnings from the research to implement cooling strategies and continue to build awareness of the negative impacts of extreme heat on not only the environment, but also the livelihoods of a community.

For the first phase of the project, researchers will benchmark and monitor the surface and ambient air temperatures in the community, as well as evaluate qualitative measures such as awareness of the impact of extreme heat, outdoor community engagement and play opportunities. 

After gathering initial data, GAF reported it would begin to implement cooling strategies, starting with the installation of StreetBond reflective pavement coatings in a one-square block area of Pacoima. Researchers will then use this data to better understand how such solutions can help improve the livability of the neighborhood.

GAF has previously worked with the City of Los Angeles’ Cool Streets Project and the LA Unified School District to improve 65 playgrounds at schools, as well as many streets throughout the area with cool, reflective pavement coatings. It also reported that it was recognized for its work in the area at Climate Resolve’s Coolest in LA awards gala. 

According to the release, an estimated 85% of Americans, or about 280 million people, live in metropolitan areas, with many experiencing extreme heat or “heat island effect.” Daytime temperatures can be 1 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than temperatures in outlying areas, and nighttime temperatures about 2 to 5 F higher.

In August of last year, the cool coating initiative reached a project milestone, with the completion of 1 million square feet of roads and other pavement painted with the solar-reflective coating. For the project, GAF utilized the Invisible Shade coating, produced by its company, StreetBond.

The epoxy acrylic paint reportedly comes with special additives that reflect infrared light, with painted pavement absorbing less heat. The coating comes in 14 colors, with custom colors available. Most surfaces were painted a light shade of gray; however, a local artist was commissioned to design murals for a basketball court, a school playground and a parking lot.

According to reports at the time, the painted streets had already cooled the surface by about 10 to 12 F. When measured in the middle of the day, the research team noticed a 30 F difference compared to the untreated pavement. The team will continue to gather data weekly over a two-year period.

First Phase Completion

According to reports, the team painted over roads, parking lots and recreational areas with a proprietary coating that the company says may reduce the heat effect by 10 to 12 F. The coating, which can reportedly be applied directly on top of preexisting asphalt by hand or by a paint-spraying machine, used brighter colors for recreational areas and dark ones for roads.

Rather than lining sections of the street, crews wanted to test how the coating could affect the ambient temperature of the neighborhood. Currently, the team is monitoring the heat in the neighborhood as summer temperatures ramp up using a variety of measuring systems.

Wall said that the felt effects of the coating are “pretty much instantaneous.”

“The community members themselves are saying it feels cooler,” he said.

Dezeen reports that, since application, the team has noted not only a drop of up to 3 F, but changes in temperature downwind from the coated area. GAF director of building and roof science Jennifer Keegan added that there could be additional benefits from cooling large urban areas beyond the experience on the street.

“Not only are we helping the environment with that perspective of reducing the urban heat island effect, and if we keep our cities cooler, we're reducing our carbon footprint,” she said.

Wall and Keegan said that the initiative hopes to expand the procedure to other areas that suffer from the heat island effect.

Other Streetbond Projects

In September of last year, The SAE School, a green private institution that educates students from preschool through eighth grade in Mableton, Georgia, installed a solar-reflective coating on its basketball court and playground.

The decision to coat the court and playground at the school arrived as extreme heat and the impacts of climate change continue to negatively affect the environment and people, especially more vulnerable groups such as children. According to SAE Head of Schools Desmond Bobbett, due to the heat index and heat stipulations, the school has sometimes had to cut students’ outside time short.

Crews from StreetBond applied a blue solar-reflective coating at The SAE School’s basketball court and playground after nearly a year of planning. StreetBond is a business unit of GAF, North America’s biggest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer.

For the project, students were asked to submit designs and vote for what the district would place over the blacktop basketball court. After tallying the votes, it was decided that coatings applicators would apply a blue-colored paint, which correlates with the school’s mascot, a blue dragon.

Older students at the institution then measured temperatures and compared the blacktop temperature to the solar-reflective coated surface temperature for several weeks.

According to Cobb County Courier, the coating reduced ground surface temperatures by roughly 10 to 12 F. This is due to the coating’s invisible shade technology, which works with light or dark shades.

According to reports, kids at SAE will be able to play on the new surfaces as early as this week. SAE CFO Scott Starowicz also shared that the coating plans to help extend students’ outdoor time. In addition, the coating is also reported to have sand mixed into it, which will help with traction and in avoiding slips or falls.


Tagged categories: Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Coatings technology; Coatings Technology; Cool Coatings; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Controls; Good Technical Practice; Health & Safety; Heat-related injury; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Roads/Highways; Solar; Solar reflectance; StreetBond

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