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October 23, 2013

Unintended Consequences: A Research Synthesis Examining the Use of Reflective Pavements to Mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect

The urban heat island effect (UHI), the phenomenon of higher temperatures in urban areas compared to surrounding rural areas, has resulted in scientific, legislative, health, and municipal efforts to mitigate this storage of heat within the built environment. One UHI mitigation strategy that has gained popularity focuses on retrofitting urban surfaces with high-albedo or reflective construction materials, including reflective pavements. Despite perceived benefits, the literature review demonstrates substantial unintended consequences associated with widespread implementation of reflective pavements, including the potential for increased cooling loads in adjacent buildings; increased heating demands during cold weather; roadway snow and ice buildup during winter months; reduction in precipitation, runoff, and soil water content; and adverse human health impacts.

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ASU Response to GCCA 7 April 2014