Cities are generally hotter than regional areas, due to something called the urban heat island effect; black tarmac on roads and dark suburban roofs can raise temperatures by up to eight degrees Celsius. This means more energy devoted to cooling and air conditioning. The City of Sydney is trialing a lighter colour of asphalt and pavement that reflects more light, reducing the city’s overall energy requirements.
Image credit: City of Sydney
One method the City of Sydney is trying to reduce its energy footprint is by laying light asphalt on roads; it’s trialing this with a stretch of tarmac between Abercrombie and Smithers Street in Chippendale, covering a total of 600 square metres — with both the roadway and footpath being lighter than the usual black and dark grey. That’s in addition to a doubling of the tree canopy within the city by 2030, and reducing carbon emission in general by 70 per cent.
The city’s government has installed temperature and humidity monitors across Redfern and Chippendale, and will be taking measurements over the next few months to determine whether the lighter-coloured pavement is having a noticeable impact on the climate in the area. No matter the effect, the city is making big strides in improving its energy efficiency, including in installing LED street and park lighting.
Apparently dark tarmac is a big contributor to the heating of urban areas versus rural and regional zones, so if this works, you might start to see lighter streets across the city and other urban areas. [City Of Sydney]