Cool Pavements Bill Signed Into Law

Posted by Allan Chen on October 25, 2012
Cool Pavements Bill Signed Into Law
Thermal infrared (left) and visible (right) images of a road with light and dark segments. The infrared image shows that the light segment (bottom) is about 17C (30F) cooler than the dark segment (top). (Image courtesy of Larry Scofield, APCA)

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 296, which calls upon the California Department of Transportation to develop a standard specification for sustainable or cool pavements that can be used to mitigate urban heat islands. Cool pavements absorb less sunlight than conventional pavements, helping reduce surface and air temperatures in cities. The new specifications for cool pavements will complement and support the existing voluntary standards for cool pavements in the California Green Building Code. The legislature heard testimony from Berkeley Lab scientists, and consulted Environmental Energy Technologies Division research studies on the science of cool pavements during the bill’s development.

Art Rosenfeld, Scientist Emeritus in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, helped establish a research group that pioneered the study of urban heat islands. Their work shows that lighter-colored roofs and pavements can reduce smog, cut energy consumption and cool urban areas, and mitigate the impacts of global warming. 

“As the rate of smog formation is extremely sensitive to increasing heat, cool pavements will improve air quality and lessen this serious public health threat,” Rosenfeld said. “Expanding use of alternative pavements will keep summers more comfortable for inland cities from Riverside to Pleasant Hill, and minimize the increasingly frequent heat waves in urban areas.”

Cool roofs and pavements can also help mitigate global warming. Based on research by the EETD group, as existing pavements across California need resurfacing, a switch to concrete (or other reflective competition)—at little or no cost—would offset the annual emissions of more than 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) for the 15-year service life of the pavement. (One metric ton is about 2,200 pounds.) This amount is equivalent to taking more than 2 million cars off California roads for 15 years.


Allan Chen is the leader of the Communications Office in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

Add a new blog comment!

Enter your comments in the box below:

(Please note that all blog entries and comments are subject to review prior to posting.)


<< Back to blogs

While we will do our best to monitor all comments and blog posts for accuracy and relevancy, Home Energy is not responsible for content posted by our readers or third parties. Home Energy reserves the right to edit or remove comments or blog posts that do not meet our community guidelines.

SPONSORED CONTENT Home Diagnosis: The First TV Series about Home Energy! Learn more! Watch Video
Email Newsletter

Home Energy E-Newsletter

Sign up for our free monthly

Harness the power of

Get the Home Energy