Innovative Paint Cools Down the School Playground By 12 Degrees: ‘I don’t feel like I’m in an oven’

A solar-reflective paint has been used to coat the asphalt playground of a school outside Atlanta, relieving the children from baking in the “urban heat island effect.”

Despite mid-September weather sitting around a perfect 75°F for sports, surface air temp of the SAE School playground blacktop routinely tops 120°F.

Recently however, teams of volunteers and students armed with blue and tan paint turned their blacktop into a “bluetop” thanks to a special radiation-reflecting paint created by StreetBond.

Thanks to the paint, the playing surfaces and surface air temp are now 12°F cooler, a welcome relief for the kids during recess.

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

Donated by StreedBond’s parent company GAF, the paint is specially-designed for cement and asphalt demarcations like bike lanes, playgrounds, crosswalks, hotel driveways, or parking lots, and is made to prevent the flat, black surface absorbing solar radiation.

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Cities on average are far hotter than the countryside, or even well shaded urban areas, because of the amount of flat black surfaces. They absorb copious solar energy and then radiate it out, raising the surrounding temperature on the ground and in the air. This is known as the urban heat island effect, and has the added inconvenience of molecularly damaging the asphalt even faster, in addition to roasting anyone who wants to sit down on it.

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Children’s bodies are more vulnerable to the extreme heat, and for the SAE School, a private institution that incorporates many projects into the curriculum including those relating to environmental challenges, it’s a great example for the students of modern solutions to modern problems.

The school held a vote to decide which color to use on their playground, and the majority selected blue and tan—the school’s colors, along with some dragon footprints—their school’s mascot.

The school plans to use the paint for their large parking lot as well.

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