How Reflective Paint Brings Down Scorching City Temperatures
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How Reflective Paint Brings Down Scorching City Temperatures

Communities fight urban heat islands with technologies shielding roofs and pavement

Wed, Sep 6, 2023 8:59amGrey Clock 3 min

Cities across the U.S. have found relief from this summer’s record-setting heat with the help of technologies that shield roofs, pavement and other surfaces from the sun’s scorching rays.

Some of these technologies have been around for more than a decade but are experiencing greater demand as global temperatures rise. Washington, D.C., for example, has built more than 3,200 green roofs covering 9 million square feet—up from about 300,000 square feet in 2006, according to federal and city officials.

Other technologies, such as super-reflective coatings for pavement, streets and windows, are just now becoming effective and affordable enough for widespread use.

The Los Angeles neighbourhood of Pacoima, a densely packed location sandwiched between freeways and an industrial area, has created a partnership with GAF, a New Jersey-based roofing manufacturer, to paint a basketball court, local park and neighbourhood streets with a reflective coating.

“There’s a lot of asphalt and lack of investment for tree canopies,” said Melanie Paola Torres, 24 years old, a community organiser with the group Pacoima Beautiful. “Given the fact that we are in an industrial zone, that contributes to the urban heat-island effect.”

The reflective coating has reduced air temperatures in the test area at 6 feet above ground by 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit during extreme heat days, and surface temperatures by 10 degrees, according to Jeff Terry, GAF’s vice president of corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Sweltering conditions are worse in urban heat islands, which can be 10 degrees hotter than surrounding suburbs and occur as buildings, roads and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s energy.

Cooling technologies mitigate this. Green roofs absorb heat before it penetrates the buildings beneath. Super-reflective coatings reflect the sun’s visible light and invisible infrared radiation away from surfaces to keep them cooler. And an ultra-white paint developed at Purdue University promises even more protection, although the product isn’t commercially available yet. Each strategy helps reduce energy use.

“The important thing is to help people cool their homes and workplaces affordably,” said Jane Gilbert, chief heat officer for Miami-Dade County, which experienced a record 46 straight days of a 100-degree-plus heat index this summer. “The more efficient we can make both the buildings and the AC systems themselves, the less we’re contributing both to greenhouse gases and also waste heat that goes to our urban heat islands.”

Miami is one of the most vulnerable cities to the urban heat-island effect, along with San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Seattle, according to an analysis by Climate Central, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that researches the effects of climate change. Its analysis found that 41 million people living in 44 cities face an urban heat-island effect of at least 8 degrees. Nine U.S. cities had at least one million people exposed to urban heat of 8 degrees or higher because of the local built environment.

To fight the heat, some cities are leveraging federal money and other incentives to persuade local builders to turn office buildings greener and cooler.

In Miami-Dade County, officials used federal funds to outfit 1,700 public housing units with new low-energy air-conditioning units. Local officials also offered a successful amendment to the Florida state building code requiring cool reflective roofs on all new commercial buildings beginning in 2024, and enrolled 150 structures in a voluntary energy-audit program to track improvements to cut energy use and keep temperatures down.

New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto and other cities are pushing green roofs with tax breaks and other incentives in an effort to lower energy bills and reduce ambient temperatures, according to Steven Peck, president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a Toronto-based green-roof and -wall industry association. Peck said green roofs can be 30 to 40 degrees cooler than a similar-size blacktop roof, while also cutting waste heat from air-conditioning units.

In the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Pacoima, Torres says residents tell her the streets and playgrounds feel cooler since the reflective coating was completed in August 2022.

“The number-one thing that always comes up is the heat waves when you’re looking down the street,” Torres said. “They don’t see those anymore.”

The next step is to install reflective roofing material on a handful of homes as part of the neighbourhood cooling effort. “We want to keep stacking the solutions to overall create a cool community with multiple strategies,” Torres said.

Altering the urban landscape to adapt to extreme heat requires money and technical know-how, according to city leaders and academic experts. But they also acknowledge the need to keep people safe as global temperatures rise.

“Any one solution is not going to necessarily be able to address the entire problem, but by systematically applying solutions that work in each individual location, we can make a dent in the urban heat-island effect,” said David Sailor, professor of geographical sciences and urban planning at Arizona State University.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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