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Life-Cycle Costs and Market Barriers of Reflective Pavements

Project Description

The objective of this study is to evaluate the lifecycle costs and market barriers associated with using reflective paving materials in streets and parking lots as a way to reduce the urban heat island effect. We calculated and compared the lifecycle costs of conventional asphalt concrete (AC) pavements to those of other existing pavement technologies with higher reflectivity portland cement concrete (PCC), porous pavements, resin pavements, AC pavements using light-colored chip seals, and AC pavements using light-colored asphalt emulsion additives. We also proposed two additional approaches to increasing the reflectivity of conventional AC, which we call the "chipping" and "aggregate" methods, and calculated their potential lifecycle costs. By analyzing the potential for increased pavement durability resulting from these conceptual approaches, we then estimated the incremental costs that would allow them to be cost-effective compared to conventional AC.

Finally, we evaluated the main actors in the pavement market and the existing and potential market barriers associated with reflective pavements. Apart from situations where lifecycle costs are high compared to conventional AC, all reflective paving technologies face a cultural barrier based on the belief that "black is better". For PCC, high first costs were found to be the most significant economic barrier, particularly where agencies are constrained by first cost. Lack of developer standards was found to be a significant institutional barrier to PCC since developers are often not held accountable for the long-term maintenance of roads after initial construction, which creates a misplaced incentive to build low first-cost pavements. PCC also faces site-specific barriers such as poorly compacted base soils and proximity to areas of frequent utility cutting.

Project Staff

Michael K. Ting

Jonathan Koomey

Melvin Pomerantz

Key Data

460k, Excel 97/98 file Presents the inputs and outputs of the life-cycle cost calculation by pavement type and scenario. Date of last modification: November 19, 2001.


Ting Michael K., Jonathan G. Koomey, Mel Pomerantz 2001. Preliminary evaluation of the lifecycle costs and market barriers of reflective pavements. LBNL-45864. November. Abstract | 370K PDF

Other Resources

Current pavement albedo/heat flow research at LBNL

ICLEI's heat island site: heat island mitigation advocacy

EPA's Urban Heat Islands (UHIPP) program: history and description of program activities

Sacramento cool communities program: cool pavement demonstration projects, and lists of cool paving materials & contractors in Sacramento area

Salt Lake City's cool communities program: cool pavement demonstration projects

American Concrete Pavement Association: technical information on UTW & fast-track PCC


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Atmospheric Programs.

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TEMA Group Site The Enduse Forecasting Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
 Last Updated On: 5/26/04