As Heat Shatters Records, Five Mayors Join With Smart Surfaces Coalition to Announce Major New Infrastructure Initiative to Cool Cities and Advance Environmental Justice

Today, five mayors joined with the Smart Surfaces Coalition (SSC) to announce a multiyear project to cool cities and metropolitan areas with Smart Surfaces: a cost-effective integrated solution including reflective (cool) roofs and pavements, green roofs, solar energy, porous pavements, rain gardens and trees. As cities continue to grapple with record heat, America’s mayors are responding with bold action to implement this no-brainer solution. Smart Surfaces can cool cities by 5°F, deliver large reductions in flooding and resulting mold, and provide $10 in benefits and cost savings for every $1 spent. 

The mayors of Atlanta, Boston, Columbia (South Carolina), Dallas, and New Orleans signed up for the Cities for Smart Surfaces program, joining the city of Baltimore, recognizing that Smart Surfaces rapidly deliver climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“This July 4 was the hottest day on Earth in recorded history. City residents worry and need city leaders to understand which surfaces can deliver cooler, healthier neighborhoods, save money and be implemented immediately,” said Greg Kats, founder and CEO of the Smart Surfaces Coalition. “When cities embrace Smart Surfaces — from rooftops to roads — residents win.”

Smart Surfaces slow climate change and measurably improve health and well-being by: reducing peak summer temperatures; decreasing flood and mold risk; improving air quality; delivering environmental justice; saving taxpayer dollars; and, ultimately creating thousands of new, high-quality jobs. 

Quotes from Mayors and City Officials on Smart Surfaces:

“An investment in Smart Surfaces is a win for Dallas residents,” Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson said. “Leveraging this intelligent and cost-effective technology will cool our neighborhoods during hot Texas summers, reduce residents’ energy expenses and minimize the impact of flash flooding events.”

“In Boston, climate change is not a far-off future concern — our residents are experiencing its effects now. Temperatures continue to rise, and more frequent and intense storms have led to both coastal and inland flooding across many Boston neighborhoods,” said city of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “Joining the Smart Surfaces Coalition has given us access to new and vital tools that will help us make Boston a stronger, more resilient city for all of our residents.”

“The Smart Surfaces Coalition is an excellent example of a partnership to achieve city objectives around heat reduction, public health, flood management, equity and more,” city of Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann said. “As the city long known as being Famously Hot, we are excited about working to advance Columbia’s goals of becoming a cooler, healthier and more resilient city.”

“Climate change is a lived reality for the city of New Orleans. From rapidly intensifying hurricanes and rainstorms to lengthier heat waves, the city continues to prepare for increased climate risks to our citizens and infrastructure,” said city of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “That’s why we have joined the National League of Cities’ Smart Surfaces Coalition to receive technical assistance to study how we can transform our urban surfaces to make them more reflective and porous while increasing green spaces and reducing flood damage and peak summer temperatures. We were impressed by the results from the Coalition’s pilot in Baltimore, particularly the overwhelming cost/benefit savings, and look forward to implementing these types of projects throughout our City.” 

In spring 2023, amid increasingly frequent and severe weather events that disproportionately hurt communities of color, SSC and the National League of Cities invited mayors to partner in scaling Smart Surfaces city-wide. This partnership will ensure more livable, resilient cities including through:

  • Data: Providing satellite data, analysis and mapping to optimize city surface interventions that cost-effectively combat the impacts of climate change.
  • Education: Engaging with and supporting city staff and community members in learning about how Smart Surfaces can enable cities to effectively deliver on their equity, climate and public health goals.
  • Cost-benefit analysis tool and training: Customizing SSC’s online cost-benefit analysis tool for and with city partners, enabling comprehensive quantification of the impacts of implementing a range of Smart Surfaces.      
  • Funding guidance: Creating application templates and providing technical support to cities to secure Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding for Smart Surfaces projects, with a focus on low-income neighborhoods.
  • Policy implementation support: Advancing policy and legal guidance to support the integration of cost-effective Smart Surfaces strategies into city policies and projects to meet city objectives.

The initiative, which the Waverley Street Foundation and The JPB Foundation have funded, is a win-win solution for cities nationwide. The coalition includes 40-plus partner organizations such as National League of Cities, American Lung Association, World Cement Association, World Resources Institute (WRI) and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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