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Dallas Joins Nationwide Cooling Effort for Tech-Driven Heat Relief

The Smart Surfaces Coalition will focus on leveraging data analysis through advanced mapping techniques, while helping equip residents with tech solutions like reflective and green roofs, solar energy tools and porous pavements.

A wooden thermometer showing 100 degrees Fahrenheit against a blue sky with the sun shining bright.
As scorching temperatures grip cities and states across the U.S., Dallas has emerged as one of the municipalities helping spur the adoption of new technology to assist residents in staying cool during heat waves.

Last week, Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson joined the mayors of Atlanta; Boston; Columbia, S.C.; and New Orleans to announce a multiyear, comprehensive Smart Surfaces initiative to cool cities and metropolitan areas through integrated tech solutions. Those solutions focus on the introduction of reflective (cool) roofs and pavements, green roofs, solar energy, and even porous pavements to help beat the heat.

“An investment in Smart Surfaces is a win for Dallas residents,” Johnson said in a press release. “Leveraging this intelligent and cost-effective technology will cool our neighborhoods during hot Texas summers, reduce residents’ energy expenses and minimize the impact of flash flooding events.”

The goal is to first focus on leveraging data to optimize city surface interventions that combat the impacts of climate change through satellite data analysis and mapping. Secondly, the initiative will focus on educating city staff and community members to understand how to align Smart Surfaces technology with a focus on equity, climate and public health goals.

According to the press release, the Smart Surfaces Coalition includes 40-plus partner organizations like the National League of Cities, American Lung Association, World Cement Association, World Resources Institute (WRI), and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, among others.

“This July 4 was the hottest day on Earth in recorded history. City residents worry and need city leaders to understand which surfaces can deliver cooler, healthier neighborhoods, save money and be implemented immediately,” said Greg Kats, founder and CEO of the Smart Surfaces Coalition, in a statement.

The Smart Surfaces Coalition also plans to utilize a cost-benefit analysis tool, specifically tailored for city partners, to quantify the impacts of implementing various Smart Surfaces strategies. This tool will enable cities to assess the value and benefits of adopting tech approaches.

Additionally, the initiative will extend its support to cities to help secure funding for Smart Surfaces projects by creating application templates and providing technical assistance, with a particular emphasis on garnering funding to help enhance climate mitigation technology for low-income neighborhoods. The partnership will dedicate efforts toward advancing policy and legal guidance to ensure that Smart Surfaces strategies are integrated into city policies and projects moving forward.

The coalition believes that Smart Surfaces can cool cities by five degrees Fahrenheit, and deliver large reductions in flooding and resultant mold, while also providing $10 in benefits and cost savings for every $1 spent.

Although Texas announced last week that it would be joining the Smart Surfaces Coalition, the elevated heat indexes aren’t just an issue facing residents in that particular area. Other mayors across the U.S. have shared their thoughts on how the new technology will make a staunch difference in their individual climate and infrastructure needs.

“Climate change is a lived reality for the city of New Orleans. From rapidly intensifying hurricanes and rainstorms to lengthier heat waves, the city continues to prepare for increased climate risks to our citizens and infrastructure,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement last week. “That’s why we have joined the National League of Cities’ Smart Surfaces Coalition to receive technical assistance to study how we can transform our urban surfaces to make them more reflective and porous while increasing green spaces and reducing flood damage and peak summer temperatures.”

As Dallas and partner cities expand their trajectory and adopt more tech-driven collaborations toward climate mitigation, their path will likely lead to more resilient cities.