Painting the Town White—and Green

TitlePainting the Town White—and Green
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsRosenfeld, Arthur H., Joseph J. Romm, Hashem Akbari, and Alan C. Lloyd
JournalMIT Technology Review
Start Page52
Keywordscool roof, Heat Island

On a summer afternoon, central Los Angeles registers temperatures typically 5°F higher than the surrounding suburban and rural areas. Hot roofs and pavements, baked by the sun, warm the air blowing over them. The resulting urban "heat island" causes discomfort, hikes air-conditioning bills, and accelerates the formation of smog.

Heat islands are found in many large cities, including Chicago, Washington, and (as the Olympic athletes and fans can attest) Atlanta. The effect is particularly well recognized in cities that quote two airport temperatures on the weather report. Thus Chicago-Midway airport is typically a few degrees hotter than suburban O'Hare, and the same difference applies between Washington National airport and Dulles.