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Here’s Why SM Mall of Asia Should Make its Parking Lots ‘Cooler’

Have you ever tried parking outside the SM Mall of Asia during the hottest parts of the summer? And have you tried doing it during the hottest hours of the day–from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM? If you said yes, then you probably felt like your hands were “melting” on the steering wheel while looking for a parking space. And woe to thee if thou hast parked thy vehicle far from the mall. You might as well bring onions and bamboo skewers and grill yourself like a nice piece of juicy kebab.

Parking Lots Should be Cooler

Of course, this shouldn’t be the case if our mall’s parking lots were cooler. We may not notice them, but these pavements absorb most of the sun’s rays each and every day. A study published by the Berkley Lab revealed that pavements “account for 35 to 50 percent of surface area, of which about half is comprised of streets and about 40 percent of exposed parking lots.”

“It’s amazing how hot these pavements get and how we’ve let them cover most of our urban surfaces,” said Haley Gilbert, a researcher in the Heat Island Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). “Because dark pavements absorb almost all of the sun’s energy, the pavement surface heats up, which in turn also warms the local air and aggravates urban heat islands.”

Cool Pavement Technologies

Cool Pavement Technologies study the light energy reflections that concrete pavements make. According to Berkley’s scientists “cool pavements reflect as much as 30 to 50 percent of the sun’s energy, compared to only 5 percent for new asphalt (and 10 to 20 percent for aged asphalt).”

There are three ways to make pavements cooler: One, by using the traditional, light-colored materials like cement; two, by applying surface treatments or cool-colored coatings for the darker asphalt materials we often use in the Philippines like this one:

The third option is far more versatile in appeal, since it comes in different hues, like yellow, blue, and green. What’s more, it might look dark but is actually more reflective than the lighter pavement materials. This is because they are “customized” to reflect invisible infrared light.

Whatever the case, the three options’ main goal is to reflect as much solar energy light as possible.

“An ideal design goal would be a pavement with solar reflectance of at least 35 percent,” said Gilbert. “How you get there will vary by project.”

Other Benefits of Cool Pavements

So if we were to apply these surface coatings to Mall of Asia’s parking lot, we can say that the pavements will cool down the ambient air and lessen the intense heat generated by the concrete.

But there’s more to this than not getting “crispy fried.”

Cooler parking lot pavements can directly affect global warming by absorbing solar energy and bouncing it off into the atmosphere via heat. As Gilbert explained: “Across an entire city, small changes in air temperature could be a huge benefit as it can slow the formation of smog. Just a couple of degrees can also reduce peak power demand, by reducing the energy load from air-conditioning.”

A reflective parking lot will also save a lot on energy required to light up parking lots–resulting in huge savings in the long run. This would make mall owners richer and happier like a dancing peacock.

Now if only we could get just as rich when we do this with our small garages, then our happiness would be really complete.

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