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Direct and Indirect Benefits

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Maximum benefits accrue when roofing, paving, and tree planting are used to work together as a system to reduce ambient temperature,  but there are also individual and ancillary benefits to each action:

  • Lighter colored roofing with proper insulation is cooler and lasts longer than a standard flat, dark roof, and it reduces the energy costs associated with air conditioning. Reduced air conditioning also reduces electric power generation and associated emissions.

  • Lighter colored pervious paving in parking surfaces was originally developed to reduce stormwater runoff, but other water related benefits include cooler temperatures of runoff water to streams, less land required for retention basins, and reduced flooding and loading to sewage treatment plants. Lighter color parking lots also require less light to illuminate at night, and because they are cooler, there are fewer evaporative emissions from cars parked on the lot. Porous paving does not absorb or store heat efficiently and also promotes more vigorous tree growth because of more available water.

  • Trees provide multiple direct and indirect benefits to the urban environment. In addition to aesthetic enhancement, trees provide carbon dioxide reduction, shade to cool surfaces and buildings (thus helping reduce air conditioning requirements), cooling the air through evapotranspiration, carbon sequestration benefits, filtration of particulate matter, erosion control, and significant reduction of stormwater runoff.