Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
The Effectiveness, Co-benefits, and Penalties of Adopting Solar Reflective Surfaces in Cities and Other Climate Change Mitigation/Adaptation Strategies
How can engineering methods and policies be utilized to mitigate and adapt to climate change? This seminar focuses on the effectiveness of adopting solar reflective "cool" surfaces in mitigating urban heat and their co-benefits and penalties on air quality and regional to global climate. Many cities are facing severe heat-related challenges (e.g., heat-related mortality) due to the combined effects of global rises in temperatures and the urban heat island effect. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and WRF-Chem models, we led the first study that systematically compared the climate and air quality effects of adopting energy-saving solar reflective "cool" walls and "cool" roofs in urban areas; our findings informed US Green Building Council's decision to give LEED building credits for using cool walls. We also estimated the global climate effects of "cool" roofs, which resolved discrepancies among previous studies.
This seminar will also briefly discuss other climate change mitigation/adaptation strategies and their air quality effects: (1) reducing the concentrations of light-absorbing black carbon aerosols in the atmosphere and (2) reducing GHG emissions through renewable energy adoption for the transportation and electricity sectors.