The development of urban areas, which replaces land and vegetation with buildings, roads and other infrastructure, leads to the formation of urban heat islands (UHI), whereby urban regions experience warmer temperatures than their rural surroundings. The annual mean air temperature of a city with one million people or more can be 1-3°C warmer than its outlying rural areas, but the temperature difference can be as much as 12°C. Even smaller cities and towns produce UHIs, though the effect is less pronounced in smaller urban areas. The impact of climate change could be exacerbated by the UHI effect in urban areas.
This increased attention to heat-related environment and health issues has helped to advance the development of UHI reduction strategies, mainly trees and vegetation, green roofs and cool roofs. Interest in cool pavements has also risen recently: different factors influence UHI development, such as the solar reflectance and thermal emittance of the material used, along with pavement temperatures that is determined by its permeability, convection, thermal conductivity, heat capacity and thickness. Cool pavements have been developed all around the world, though more research and demonstrative projects are needed to help communities to better understand the interactions between pavements and urban climate.
Implementation of the proposed cool pavement technology, however, has not previously been attempted. Much cool pavement development has been carried out on squares or plain areas (e.g. parking lots and sports courts), but not on city roads and not monitored closely.
The LIFE HEATLAND project aims to demonstrate the mitigation of the UHI effect by using an innovative construction material for road surfaces – cool pavements using a mixture of lime aggregated, transparent synthetic binder and titanium oxide and iron oxides pigments. An innovative pavement will be installed along with four metering towers fitted with diverse sensors (e.g. a pavement surface temperature sensor, three air temperature sensors, an ozone meter and a lux meter) in the city of Murcia. The main objectives of the project are to:
The results of the project will help define a new standard for urban pavements that are resilient to the climate change effects. The project is in line with Action VII of the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change by ensuring more resilient infrastructure. The Commission will launch a mandate for European standardisation organisations to start mapping industry-relevant standards in the area of energy, transport and buildings and to identify standards that need to be revised to achieve better inclusion of adaptation considerations.