Los Angeles is Painting Asphalt Lighter Color to Reduce Heat Island Effect

As great as a product as asphalt is, there’s no doubt that there is room for improvement. Scientists all over the world are trying to solve its most common issues, such as potholes, cracking, ice build-up, and storm water drainage. Los Angeles is now tackling another issue with the material: heat island effect.

One of the hottest parts of the Los Angeles area is Canoga Park, located in the San Fernando Valley. For that reason, the LA city officials are testing out a “cool pavement” coating to hopefully reduce the increased temperatures that asphalt causes.

10,000 square feet of a street in the area was coated with a paint-like material called CoolSeal, made by a company called GuardTop. Although the product is applied like paint, it’s actually an asphalt-based sealcoat.

Gregg Spotts, assistant director of L.A.’s Bureau of Street Services told ABC7 that the coating has dropped pavement temperatures 11-13 degrees versus adjacent pavement that has not been coated.

The coating is placed in two layers, with each layer being 15 microns thick.  Spotts said that the first coat only took an hour for the first coat to dry.

15 streets across the city will have the material applied to it over time.  Total project cost for all 15 roads is estimated to cost around $150,000.

While it’s scientifically proven that lighter colors reduce temperatures, lighter colors also greatly increases the glare, which will make sunglasses even more important in sunny California.  I’m also curious to know how quickly the product loses efficiency as it gets dirtier from dirt and tires.  To keep the surface lighter, consistent maintenance will become more important.

Nearby residents are hoping that the cooler temperatures help keep their energy costs down.