Super cool building materials could reduce urban temperatures
A new partnership between the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney will producer new cool building materials that reduce urban temperatures and counteract the effects of climate change.
UNSW professor Mattheos Santamouris said the so-called super cool roofs, pavements and coatings for buildings reflect rather than absorb solar energy – they can reduce peak temperatures in our cities by up to four degrees, enough to save lives.
In 2020, 593 and 391 people died from heat-related deaths in Melbourne and Sydney, respectively, a substantial increase from 289 and 176 in 2007, according to the Australia State of Environment.
Professor Santamouris notes overpopulation and rapid urbanisation are transforming our cities into urban heat islands, with human activity – waste heat from industry, cars, and air conditioners – driving up city temperatures making them significantly warmer than surrounding areas.
He said: “The way we build [also] increases the temperature of our cities.
“We’re using [heat-absorbing materials like] asphalt, we’re using concrete.”
Santamouris added super cool roofs and pavements by contrast reduce the energy needed for cooling – this in turn decreases carbon dioxide emissions that increase the magnitude of climate change, making our cities more economical, environmentally friendly, and liveable.
He continued: “Under the sun, [with] 42 degrees ambient temperature, the [super cool] materials’ surface temperature was 25.
“It’s a natural air condition without expending any energy – super cool materials.
“And all these new technologies and new materials have been developed in Australia.”