Report finds smart surfaces save cities billions through increased resilience

Report finds smart surfaces save cities billions through increased resilience

By Georgina Wade

A new report from clean energy advisory and venture firm Capital E finds that urban investment in smart surface strategies could secure billions of dollars in net financial benefits.

The cost-benefit analysis conducted in three cities, Philadelphia, El Paso and Washington D.C., concludes that smart surfaces can strengthen resilience, improve health and liveability, expand jobs and slow global warming. Smart surfaces include green roofs, solar panels, permeable pavement and reflective pavement.

Additionally, these strategies could potentially deliver half a trillion dollars in savings from urban employment nationally.

Source: U.S. Green Building Council

The report highlights concerns about cities becoming urban heat islands, especially as more effects of climate change become evident. The damage and cost of increased temperature and air pollution are particularly acute for urban low-income urban areas having profound, directly measurable effects on both physical and mental health outcomes.

Smart surface technologies, like cool roofs, help manage high temperatures by reflecting light and heat rather than absorbing it. Green roofs, so roofs with a plant cover, for example, can also provide a means of improving resilience through stormwater management and water quality while providing a means of filtration.

Additionally, investment in the green economy offers jobs across a wide range of skill levels with relatively low entry barriers. Installing smart surfaces in urban areas would help create relatively well-paid jobs and increasing the availability of positions in construction.

And, city officials are responding positively to the report’s findings. As former mayor of Austin Will Wynn notes, “Delivering Urban Resilience provides an entirely convincing case that city-wide adoption of ‘smart surfaces’ like green and cool roofs and porous pavements are both cost-effective and essential to ensuring that our cities remain liveable in a warming world.”

The Delivering Urban Resilience report also provides a methodology for quantifying the full costs and benefits for smart solutions giving cities the ability to financially quantify green options.

 Download the full report by clicking here.


Cover photo by US Air Force: About 2,100 trays of sedum, a regional high desert plant, cover most of the 21st Space Wing Headquarters building roof. It was selected because of its drought resistance. The green roof, installed in 2007, is designed to reduce energy consumption and rainwater runoff, and extend the life of the roof, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson).

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