Cool and Sustainable Sidewalks

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

University of New Mexico Team photo
Our technical challenge is to design a sidewalk that can be built using recycled and less energy- and carbon-intensive materials with the thinnest possible thickness in order to reduce material use and limit heat storage capacity. By revisiting the materials and techniques that cities and towns use to build sidewalks, we believe it is possible to create more durable, environmentally sustainable, and cost-effective approaches than are commonly used today.

Our team consists of undergradaute and gradaute students in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of New Mexico. About half of the team has now graduated.

Brittany Antonczak (PhD Student, Civil & Environmental Engineering), Amanda Baldridge, Edgar Hernandez, Logan Hutchison, Mohammed Amin Najvani, Stephen Montaño (MS Civil & Environmental Engineering), Angel Padilla, Patience Raby, Matthew Ricks, Michael Suarez

EPA P3 Video Presentation

Poster (click to open a full size image): 
Cool and Sustainable Sidewalks poster

Our project evaluates the addition of recycled materials to concrete in sidewalks that could reduce non-renewable resource consumption, divert wastes from land-fills, and improve the structural properties of sidewalks. Substituting recycled materials for other, more energy- and carbon-intensive materials such as Portland cement could also lessen air, water and climate impacts associated with energy production and strengthen concrete, making it possible to design thinner sidewalks that use even less materials and reduce the heat capacity of sidewalks. Reducing heat capacity would help mitigate the urban heat island (UHI) effect which would help to lower energy demand for cooling in cities and towns, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants associated with energy production.