Research | Materials

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SMART Materials

There are more than 76 million residential buildings and nearly 5 million commercial buildings in the U.S. today. These buildings together use one-third of all the energy consumed in the U.S., and two-thirds of all electricity. They consume 25% of all water supplies and 30% of all wood and materials. By the year 2010, another 38 million buildings are expected to be constructed.

Buildings are a major source of the pollution that causes urban air quality problems, and of the pollutants that contribute to climate change. They account for 49 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 25 percent of nitrous oxide emissions, and 10 percent of particulate emissions, all of which damage urban air quality.

Rapidly urbanizing regions provide unique opportunities to deploy new urban planning, as well as residential, commercial and industrial designs which reduce the reliance on fossil fuels while promoting the use of emerging construction materials and technologies such as fuel cells, wind energy, photovoltaics, hydrogen, geothermal and distributed generation.

Sustainable buildings consume fewer resources, generate less waste, cost less to operate, and provide healthier living and working environments than traditional buildings. In general, green building can be defined as design and construction practices that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of buildings on the environment and occupants.

Cool Pavements
Using NASA satellite imagery, the top 20 % surface temperatures in Phoenix, Arizona are presented in red. The network of streets, highways and parking lots is clearly visible.

Cool pavements are designed to reduce adverse climatic impacts such as the Urban Heat Island by optimizing the physical thermal characteristics of pavement design. This includes single and multi-layer designs which optimize thermal conductivity, heat storage capacity, density, albedo and emissivity.

The carries out research through heat transfer modeling, fundamental materials research, field trials at our outdoor research facility and in-situ in our designed pavements put in place throughout the Phoenix metropolitan region in conjunction with local and state agencies.