School Covers Playground With Radiation-Reflecting Paint To Cool It Down By 12°F


In order to help alleviate children from baking in the “urban heat island effect,” a school outside of Atlanta has put solar-reflective paint to coat the asphalt playground that the children use.

Although the weather usually sits around 75°F in mid-September, which tends to be the perfect temperature for sports, the surface air temp of the SAE School playground blacktop is usually at an extreme 120°F.

But team of volunteers and students have recently decided to use some special radiation-reflecting blue and tan colored paint made by StreetBond to turn their blacktop into a “bluetop.”

This kind of paint helps make playing surfaces and surface air temp 12°F cooler than they were originally, which gives the students some much needed relief during their recess times.

In an interview with Fast Company, cofounder and director of operations at the school, Shannan Tilson, said, “Is it still hot? Yes. But is it as hot as it was? Absolutely not. I don’t feel like I’m in an oven.”

The paint, which was donated by the parent company of StreetBond called GAF, is a specially-designed for asphalt and cement demarcations such as crosswalks, hotel driveways, playgrounds, bike lanes, and parking lots. It was created to help prevent these flat, black surfaces from absorbing unwanted solar radiation.

Most cities are way hotter than the countryside or even well-shaded urban areas, mostly due to the amount of flat black surfaces found all throughout the city areas. And because they absorb large amounts of solar energy, which it also radiates outwards. When this happens, all surrounding temperatures on the ground and in the air also get higher. This is what’s called the urban heat island effect. And when this happens, it can even molecularly damage the asphalt on the roads much faster, plus it has the ability to burn – or at least momentarily roast – anyone that happens to try and sit down on it.

Since children tend to be more vulnerable to extreme heat, the SAE school – which is a private institution that incorporates a number of projects within its curriculum including environmental challenges – decided that this would be a wonderful example for the students in finding futuristic and modern solutions to modern day urban problems.

In order to decide on the color of pain to use on the playground, the school held a vote, with majority choosing blue and tan, which also happen to be the school’s colors. They also chose to add their school’s mascot, which are dragon footprints. The school also plans to pain their huge parking lot soon as well.


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