The City of Sydney is exploring the potential for light coloured pavements to reduce temperatures in urban areas.

The ‘urban heat island effect’ has seen cities becoming a few degrees warmer than regional or rural areas due to the absorption of heat from the sun by roads, pavements and buildings. Lighter-coloured pavements are being considered to reduce this effect.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said temperatures in Sydney were expected to rise in the coming decades due to the city’s growth and the effects of climate change. The natural environment in most cities is getting strained from rapid increase in size and population, combined with rising levels of energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The trial initiated by the City of Sydney will record temperatures across different locations in Chippendale, including a 600m² section of Myrtle Street. Continuous monitoring will track whether there is a reduction in ambient temperature along the lighter pavements.

Independent sustainability expert and Chippendale resident, Michael Mobbs explained that materials such as concrete and cement absorb and store heat during the day and release it at night, contributing to warmer urban areas. He added that black-topped roads and lack of tree cover can increase the temperature of cities by up to eight degrees. Lighter coloured pavements may also result in reduced energy consumption for surrounding buildings.

The composition of the new section of road will include open grade asphalt pavement that will be filled with concrete slurry to provide a lighter tone to the pavement.

The City of Sydney is taking long-term action to tackle climate change through initiatives such as increasing the tree canopy by 50 per cent, reducing energy use, and investing in renewable energy.

The City of Sydney has an ambitious long-term target of reducing its carbon emissions by 70 per cent and increasing the city’s tree canopy by 50 per cent by 2030. It has introduced a range of measures to achieve these objectives including massive tree planting, energy-efficient LED lighting, solar panel installation, building retrofits to improve energy efficiency, and stormwater harvesting among others.