Sometimes the simplest solutions can make astounding changes.

The most recent IPCC report found that our cities contribute a staggering amount to our total emissions. In 1900, only 13 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban areas; today, it’s more than half. Urban areas account for 67 to 76 per cent of global energy use and 71 to 76 per cent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Roads take up between 24 to 35 % of the landmass of our cities. Black roads can heat up to well over 33 degrees and heat up the air around trees, houses and suburbs by up to six or more degrees.

“If we are to do anything about our climate we must do something meaningful in our cities – my vision is to cool Australian cities by 2 degrees by 2020 by quite simply building cool roads,” Michael Mobbs, Cool Change Cities Project Director said.

“Just imagine how transforming this could be for the people of Western Sydney, the Northern suburbs of Adelaide or the people in suburbs and towns in Western Australia.

“A cool road uses pale surfaces like concrete, a resin mix like bus lanes, or pale rocks that are shaved to present a pale surface. By building cool roads trees will grow to their natural canopy and provide more shade to cool the roads and cut temperatures.

“This is all part of my Cool Change Cities project.

A pale road retrofit of one of New York’s roads was costed at $58 m with a saving in energy bills from the lower air temperatures of $57m alone. Their research found a one-degree increase above 20 degrees increased energy use in the city by 3300 MW.

“I have been obtaining data from my suburb of Chippendale for four years so we have good data of the heat from the black roads there,” he said

“A trial cool road will soon be built in Chippendale, NSW and we will be able to compare before and after data and the impact on energy bills of adjoining properties and the impact on trees, plants and biodiversity and public health.

“This is hugely exciting stuff.

“The NSW government, have been highly supportive of my vision – we’re discussing solutions for wider studies and rollout across the State. Other parts of the country are looking on with interest and we are in discussions with some corporate players who can immediately see the benefits here,” Mr Mobbs said.

An image of a cool road is here: http://sustainablehouse.com.au/2014/05/cool-roads-cool-our-cities/

The project was featured on ABC’s Lateline Program tonight, Monday June 2: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline