San Antonio’s Cool Pavement Pilot Plan explained

See how the city is taking to the streets as part if its SA Climate Ready plan.

SATXtoday: cool pavement

San Antonio is expanding its initiative, applying cool pavement treatments to selected roads in all 10 Council Districts.

Photo by City of San Antonio

Table of Contents

Did you know San Antonio has had 12 consecutive 100 degree days already this year? We don’t know about y’all, but these streets are hot. Some areas around the city — those with a lot of buildings + roads but little shade — can be 20 degrees hotter than others (known as the heat island effect). So what is the city doing about this? Let us introduce you to the Cool Pavement Pilot Plan.

Cool Pavement is...

This water-based asphalt treatment reflects sunlight and absorbs less heat, potentially making our streets cooler and more sustainable. Some other characteristics include:

  • No harmful chemicals
  • Enhances the life of the pavement
  • Compatible with traditional asphalt
  • Lighter and grayer in color

Fun fact: San Antonio became the first city in Texas and the third major city in the US to use cool pavement as a heat mitigation tool.

What’s the plan?

Starting in 2021, the City identified populated areas with high scores for extreme heat, poverty levels, and percentage of people of color that could potentially receive the cool pavement treatment. Then the City narrowed down its options by incorporating streets in good condition with little shade, resulting in the City Council choosing 10 sites.

The approximately $1 million project is funded by the City’s Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, and Sustainability Program Fund to install the cool pavement at the locations as well as evaluate all materials used for both temperature and product performance. As of last week, the installation of cool pavement was completed.

SATXtoday: cool pavement map

The City of San Antonio is testing cool pavement on 10 key project locations across the city.

Screenshot by City of San Antonio

What’s next?

Over the next six months, the city will partner with researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio to track which types of pavement applications work best to reduce temperatures. If the program is successful, cool pavement could be added to other areas of the city in the future.