High Albedo and Environment-Friendly Concrete for Smart Growth and Sustainable Development

EPA Grant Number: SU832477
Title: High Albedo and Environment-Friendly Concrete for Smart Growth and Sustainable Development
Investigators: Reza, Farhad , Boriboonsomsin, Kanok
Current Investigators: Reza, Farhad , Boriboonsomsin, Kanok , Schmidt, Naomi , Seals, Audrey , Stiles, Justin , Strohl, Brandon
Institution: Ohio Northern University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Concrete surfaces absorb heat from sunlight due to their low solar reflectivity (albedo). This increases the local ambient temperature in urban areas (the so-called "heat-island" effect). The heat-island effect leads to a waste of energy because of increased cooling costs. It also adversely affects air quality, which in turn can be detrimental to human health. Simulations of the influence of pavement albedo on air temperature in Los Angeles predict that increasing the albedo of 1,250 km2 or pavement by 0.25 would save cooling energy worth $15 million per year and reduce smog-related expenses by $76 million per year.

The challenge to be tackled in this research project is the design of new concrete mixtures with higher solar reflectance than that of conventional concrete for use in pavement surfaces. These new concrete mixtures must also be economically viable, environment-friendly, durable, structurally sound, aesthetically acceptable and safe for traffic. In particular, two major constituents which are often used in concrete as partial replacements for cement will be investigated. These are ground-granulated blast furnace slag and fly ash. Three other alternatives (namely steel fibers, white sand and brown sand) will also be examined. The successful mixes, based on laboratory test results of albedo values, will be those which achieve a 60-70% increase in albedo over conventional concrete. In-situ measurement of surface temperature will be conducted on full-scale test slabs. The field tests will verify and validate the effectiveness of high albedo concrete in reducing surface temperature.

The design and experiments involved in this project will be performed by senior students at Ohio Northern University as part of their senior design capstone project. The design of concrete mixtures with the use of environment-friendly constituents will also be introduced to students in the Reinforced Concrete Design course. Additionally, the P3 concepts of smart growth and sustainable development will be incorporated into the Urban Planning course.

Upon conclusion of the initial research and design phase, it is anticipated that a separate project will be necessary for implementation. An implementation plan is outlined for bringing the idea to market in the state of Ohio. The final product will be marketed in two different ways - first, as a new instant mix product available at hardware stores, and second, as a technology made available to ready mixed concrete plans.

Supplemental Keywords:

ambient air, atmosphere, ozone, global climate, life-cycle analysis, alternatives, sustainable development, clean technologies, innovative technology, renewable, waste reduction, waste minimization, environmentally conscious manufacturing, engineering, measurement methods, Midwest, Ohio, OH, transportation,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, sustainable development, green design, fly ash, environmental conscious construction, alternative building technology, alternative materials, concrete , albedo, engineering, solar reflectivity, pollution prevention

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report