Cool Pavement Pilot Program

The City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department selected portions of eight neighborhoods and one city park to receive cool pavement treatment as part of a pilot project. Cool pavement is lighter in color than traditional asphalt or other seal coatings. Cool pavement reflects back the sunlight that hits it. Because the surface reflects rather than retains heat, cool pavement has the potential to offset rising nighttime temperatures in Phoenix.

We are applying this cool pavement coating to extend the life of existing pavement and allow us to study the effectiveness and durability of the material. We have prepared this webpage to help answer some of the most common questions people may have about cool pavement and the city's pilot project.


What is cool pavement?

It is a water-based asphalt treatment that is applied on top of the existing asphalt pavement. It's made with asphalt, water, an emulsifying agent (soap), mineral fillers, polymers and recycled materials. It contains no harmful chemicals and is compatible with traditional asphalt.

Why would Phoenix apply cool pavement?

Asphalt collects and retains heat during the day and releases it at night. Phoenix is among several cities that are experiencing the urban ‘heat island’ effect due to the retention of heat within the built environment. US Environmental Protection Agency data shows the difference in nighttime temperatures in heat island areas can be as much as 22 degrees hotter than temperatures measured outside the heat island. Higher nighttime temperatures lead to more energy consumption, more greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and other harmful effects.

Cool pavement reflects back the sunlight that hits it. Because the surface reflects rather than retains heat, cool pavement has the potential to offset rising nighttime temperatures in Phoenix. The use of cool pavement technology may help reduce the heat island effect and reduce temperatures in the city. It is also useful to cool neighborhood areas that don’t have much shade from the sun.

Phoenix participated in a workshop hosted by the federal government and the City of Los Angeles. Los Angeles has been using cool pavement on neighborhood streets and has reported positive results in reducing roadway surface temperatures.   

​Why is this a pilot project?Regular asphalt shown with temperature reading of 121 degrees, other photos showing cool pavement and temperatures from 111 to 106 degrees

The Phoenix Street Transportation Department is always looking for ways to improve what we do and improve the livability of the city. Phoenix wants to test the cool pavement technology and material to see whether it is effective at reducing temperatures in Phoenix desert climate. We plan to engage university researchers to take measurements and collect data over several years. They will evaluate the results and will hopefully help us understand if the cool pavement product helps mitigate the heat island effect and if those effects are sustainable over time.

We also want to see how the product holds up. Our climate is unlike other major cities. We want to make sure it will last through our 300 days of sunshine, monsoon storms, high temperatures and daily traffic.

Where are you testing cool pavement?

The City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department identified local streets in each Council District for cool pavement treatment. Since different parts of the city experience different rain, monsoon conditions, and degree of wear on the pavement, it should be a good way to find out how well it is working and how durable it is.

The streets selected for this pilot project have asphalt that is in good condition and where a preservative surface treatment would be warranted. Preservative treatments extend the life of the road by sealing any surface cracks to prevent moisture intrusion and improve the overall road condition and appearance.

How can my neighborhood get cool pavement?

Before adopting this technology on a more widespread basis, we want to examine the results from the pilot program. Cost will also be a consideration, as the city works to use taxpayer funds wisely. While the cool pavement material is more costly than the seal coating materials we usually use, results from other cities suggest the material is effective and longer lasting than traditional asphalt seal coats. If that’s true in Phoenix, and the material provides the environmental benefits we believe it will, you can expect to see wider use of cool pavement when neighborhood streets are due for pavement maintenance.

Pavement condition is one of the key criteria for future installations. We will also try to solve community challenges such as providing heat relief to areas with very little shade. Future installations will be studied to ensure the cool pavement is placed equitably and in areas where the immediate benefit is most needed – such as areas with little or no shade or areas where people move on foot or bicycle out of necessity.

Can I buy the cool pavement material and treat my driveway with it?

As most Phoenix driveways are concrete, it's unlikely the product would work for you. The product is formulated to bond to underlying asphalt, and it’s also applied with specialized equipment over a larger area. There may be other types of coatings available – such as those used on concrete around pools – but they are probably not meant to handle vehicle movement.

Does cool pavement look different than traditional asphalt?Cool Pavement Application at Esteban Park

Yes. The cool pavement coating is a lighter grayish concrete color. This photo from Esteban Park gives a sense of the color. The material dries to a matte finish.

Is cool pavement safe to use?

It is safe for all types of vehicles, pets, people and all the typical activities that would take place on a road. Despite being lighter in color, cool pavement does not result in glare. It also meets or exceeds skid safety requirements.

Is this a new product?

Colorized seal coats and asphalts have been around for a while. Cool pavement uses existing material and technology in a new way.

How is cool pavement applied?

City of Phoenix Crew Applying Cool PavementIt can be sprayed or applied with a squeegee, just like the other surface treatments we apply to city roads. Here you see crew members using squeegees to smooth the edges after the cart has applied the material. Below is a video of the cart applying the cool pavement material at Esteban Park.

Who are the partners in this project?

The City of Phoenix Office of Sustainability, the Street Transportation Department and Arizona State University are partnering to see if this project can help with the city’s continuing efforts to be environmentally sustainable while improving the quality of life for all who enjoy Phoenix. We pledge to keep you informed about this pilot project.

When and where will you have study results?

We look forward to sharing the results of the study on this website. Early results will be posted between now and the end of 2021.

Where can I see cool pavement?

The Street Transportation Department applied cool pavement to the parking areas and driveways at Esteban Park. See below for other pilot test locations and treatment schedules.

 *NEW* Arizona Republic Article from 5-15-2020 (this link will take you to the news site)

Proposed Cool Pavement Pilot Locations                                                              Tentative Schedule*

Mayor  QS: 11-30 – Van Buren St / Roosevelt St from 12th – 16th St                                Completed!

D1         QS: 33-18 – Thunderbird Rd/Acoma from 47th- 43rd Ave                                     Late August

D2         QS: 59-23 - Carefree Hwy / Languid Ln from OPEN SPACE / 27th Ln                  Early September

D3         QS: 29-37 – Shea Blvd / Cholla St from 40th – 44th St                                            Mid-September

D4         QS: 11-22 – Van Buren St / Roosevelt St from 31st – 27th Ave                             Completed!                          

D5         QS: 18-16 - Campbell Ave / Camelback Rd from 55th – 51st Ave                         Late August

D6         QS: 26-28 – Las Palmaritas Dr / Dunlap Ave from Central Ave to 7th St            Late September

D7         QS: 2-19 Vineyard Rd / Southern Ave from 43rd – 39th Ave                                 Early October

D8         Esteban Park: 3345 E. Roeser Rd – Parking Lot                                                     Completed!

 

*Applying sealant to streets is dependent on the weather. Some changes may be possible due to storm activity. People who live on the streets that are slated to receive cool pavement will receive notification prior to the start of work in their area.


 

Contact Information

Project Hotline: 623-825-3444​

pavement@phoenix.gov

 Cool Pavement Application at Esteban Park

 Cool Pavement Virtual Meeting