The plague time COVID-19 pandemic underscored the critical importance of outdoor space in urban life. This shift should be  here to stay, with building projects  judged on the merits of their outdoor environments.

Microclimate experts help developers, designers, and urban planners maximize the value of a new building by elevating and activating its exterior assets. But there is even more we can do with existing, no tech strategies like white rooftops:

The meteorological phenomenon of the urban heat island has been well known since giant cities began to emerge in the 19th century. The materials that comprise most city buildings and roads reflect much less solar radiation – and absorb more – than the vegetation they have replaced. They radiate some of that energy in the form of heat into the surrounding air.

The darker the surface, the more the heating. Fresh asphalt reflects only 4 percent of sunlight compared to as much as 25 percent for natural grassland and up to 90 percent for a white surface such as fresh snow.

Most of the roughly 2 percent of the earth’s land surface covered in urban development suffers from some level of urban heating. New York City averages 1-3 degrees C warmer than the surrounding countryside, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – and as much as 12 degrees warmer during some evenings. The effect is so pervasive that some climate skeptics have seriously claimed that global warming is merely an illusion created by thousands of once-rural meteorological stations becoming surrounded by urban development.

Climate change researchers adjust for such measurement bias, so that claim does not stand up. Nonetheless, the effect is real and pervasive. So, argues a recent study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, if dark heat-absorbing surfaces are warming our cities, why not negate the effect by installing white roofs and other light-colored surfaces to reflect back the sun’s rays?

And there are others that seem a lot more kooky than they are – mirrors, concrete roads instead of asphalt, distributed microgrids. We need to get moving with this stuff.

Image: Photo: Twitter @nycCoolRoofs

Ringing the Ball with the Basket

This is kind of funny, in that name-a-venture-with-a-word-for-something-that-needs-a new-name kind of way:

At, you will find thought-provoking progressive ideas on diverse topics that intersect with technology, business, and life, and matter to the world at large. Whether you are making technology decisions for your business, or eco-conscious decisions for your home, will give you the 360° coverage you need to feel informed and connected to the news and information that matters to you.

via. So maybe we’re past green, or at least that’s what CBS interactive intends. A bit amazing they use the word ‘progressive,’ but at this point it’s pretty bankable that no one remembers Eugene Debs. Which is too bad. But whatever we call it, the self-preservation impulse remains and we’re marooned among our choices. Watching whatever passes for Madison Avenue these days try to get past that (Think: the 2009 IBM campaigns) could be amusing, but for the fact that the joke’s likely on us – as that kind of innovation is what passes for innovation at present. Well, that and Avatar.

Kinda reminds me of a book I once found at a third-hand store. It had been re-covered by a library somewhere at some point, like they do with trade paperbacks, and on the binding instead of the title was just the word TITLE.

Yes, it’s sitting in my house, on board un-labeled SHELF.

Damn you, Gabriel Garcia.