Mayors from Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, and Columbia have joined the Smart Surfaces Coalition (SSC) to announce a multiyear project to cool their cities with cost-effective integrated solutions. As the country continues to face some of the hottest temperatures on record, with lower-income neighborhoods suffering the most, SSC offers to improve structural racial inequalities by cutting heat and pollution and creating a healthier environment for everyone—no matter their ZIP code, race, or background.
“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 is 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.”
SSC is compromised of more than 40 partners nationwide, including Habitat for Humanity, National League of Cities, American Lung Association, World Cement Association, World Resources Institute ( WRI), and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. The coalition has recently expanded its goals to include ten cities; the mayor’s group is among the first to join after Baltimore. The coalition provides guidance and resources in the fight against the climate crisis through an array of infrastructure solutions including data and mapping, education, cost-benefit analysis, funding support, and policy implementation support to its members.
“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.”
Kats says the benefits of implementing solutions such as porous roads, rain gardens, and reflective roofs can: •Cool cities by 5°F •Deliver large reductions in flooding and resulting mold •Provide $10 in benefits and cost savings for every $1 spent while mitigating climate costs and adding jobs
Additionally, cooler surfaces have led to improved physical and mental health and healthier communities.