This report provides an in-depth analysis of the costs and benefits of applying a set of smart surface solutions, including cool roofs, green roofs, solar PV, and permeable and reflective pavements and road surfaces across three cities: El Paso, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The report demonstrates that cities can strengthen resilience, improve health and comfort, expand jobs and slow global warming through smart surface strategies while securing billions of dollars in net financial benefits. Applied nationally, these strategies could potentially deliver half a trillion dollars in net financial benefits.
This work tackles the full range of smart surface technologies and quantifies many of their benefits for the first time. In all cases, application of these smart surface technologies both city-wide and to low-income neighborhoods produce financial benefits that exceed costs. At a neighborhood level, such as Ward 5 in Washington, D.C., application of these smart surface technologies would provide a net present value of several hundred million dollars.
This report demonstrates that the growing city-wide risks from extreme heat and weather driven by climate change can be largely offset by city-wide adoption of these smart surface technologies while delivering large net financial benefits. Many of the physical inequalities that characterize and disadvantage low-income areas of most American cities can be greatly improved with smart surface with large net financial returns to the city as a whole. These large net positive financial returns constitute a strong financial, resilience and public policy case for rapid adoption of smart surface solutions city-wide as standard, baseline policy for most U.S. cities.