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Ranked: The Top 26 States for Passive Daytime Radiative Cooling

Passive daytime radiative cooling (PDRC) is no longer a far-off theoretical technology. It’s here now and PDRC films, fabrics, and coatings are already cooling everything from homes to factories to farm animals, all without a single watt of electricity. The potential impact is staggering: widespread adoption could slash cooling energy consumption, dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.

But passive daytime radiative cooling isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Its effectiveness varies based on local climate conditions, and its impact depends on a region’s cooling needs and energy consumption patterns. This ranking aims to identify in which states PDRC adoption would make the biggest splash across the USA. We consider not only where radiative cooling is physically most effective, but also where it’s most needed, based on the following criteria:

  • PDRC Effectiveness: Clearer skies, lower humidity, and higher altitudes
  • Cooling Need: Hot climates with higher cooling degree days
  • Energy Impact: Large population centers that drive cooling energy demand
  • Economic Impact: Higher energy costs with more potential $ savings
  • Government Initiatives: Well defined and adequately funded sustainability plans

So without further ado, let’s get into the list!

1. Texas

The Lone Star State’s vast expanse offers prime conditions for daytime radiative cooling, especially in the Trans-Pecos region where clear skies reign supreme. With Texas’ power council, ERCOT, reporting record-breaking power demands during heatwaves, PDRC could be a game-changer for grid stability from El Paso to Houston. In rapidly growing cities like Austin and San Antonio, where development is booming and summers are increasingly brutal, PDRC could play a crucial role in sustainable urban planning, potentially reducing cooling costs and improving resilience against extreme heat events.

2. California

From the scorching Central Valley to the cool coastal fog, California’s numerous microclimates create a PDRC puzzle. Cities like Fresno, where temperatures regularly soar past 100°F, could see massive benefits, potentially reducing the strain on the state’s overtaxed power grid during flex alerts. And with over 39 million residents, wide scale adoption or radiative cooling across the state of California could drive national behavior, as we’ve witnessed with the adoption of electric cars.

3. Arizona

In the Valley of the Sun, where asphalt can hit 160°F, PDRC isn’t just efficient—it’s essential. Phoenix’s ambitious goal for all new buildings to be “net-positive” by 2050 could get a major boost from widespread PDRC adoption. And as one of the fastest warming cities in the US, Tucson was one of the first America cities to declare a climate emergency back in 2020. Arizona is home to America’s first large scale PDRC distributor (that’s us!) and many Arizonans are already early adopters of radiative cooling films, fabrics, and coatings.

4. Florida

Despite that famous humidity somewhat reducing PDRC’s maximum effectiveness in the Sunshine State, PDRC could be a boon for cities like Tallahassee and Miami, where the urban heat island effect can increase temperatures by as much as 12 degrees compared to surrounding areas. Imagine cooling South Beach without cranking up the A/C!

Texas, California, Arizona, and Florida state road signs showcasing the best states for passive daytime radiative cooling.

It’s no coincidence that Texas, Arizona, and Florida clinch three of the top four spots for the hottest average summer temperatures in the U.S. These sun-soaked states are prime candidates for harnessing passive daytime radiative cooling.

5. Georgia

Atlanta’s notorious “Hotlanta” summers could become more bearable with PDRC. The technology could complement the city’s growing urban canopy initiative, potentially reducing temperatures in heat-vulnerable neighborhoods identified by the groundbreaking Georgia Tech Urban Climate Lab.

6. Nevada

In a state where the Mojave Desert meets the neon of Las Vegas, passive daytime radiative cooling could be the ace up the sleeve for sustainable development. The tech could significantly reduce the cooling needs of massive casino complexes while supporting the state’s ambitious renewable energy goals. And it’s not just the Las Vegas Strip that would benefit. With current evaporative cooling methods consuming a staggering 10% of Southern Nevada’s scarce annual water supply, PDRC could simultaneously combat intense heat and water scarcity – two of the region’s most critical issues.

7. New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment’s high deserts provide ideal conditions for PDRC. In Albuquerque, where the “dry heat” still demands significant cooling, PDRC could complement the city’s push for LEED-certified buildings. But it’s cities and towns like Carlsbad, New Mexico’s hottest city, where radiative cooling could make the most dramatic impact. With an average 105 days per year with temperatures above 90°F, and summer temperatures regularly soaring above 100°F, Carlsbad’s residents and its burgeoning industries could see substantial energy savings and improved comfort through PDRC implementation.

8. North Carolina

From the Outer Banks to the Appalachians, North Carolina’s diverse climate poses unique cooling challenges. PDRC could be particularly effective in the Piedmont region, helping cities like Charlotte meet their ambitious climate goals. In Raleigh, where the state capital is experiencing rapid growth and increasing urban heat island effects, PDRC could play a crucial role in sustainable development strategies.

9. Hawaii

The Aloha State’s tropical climate and high energy costs (electric bills average over $210) make efficient cooling crucial. Honolulu, with its year-round cooling needs, could significantly benefit from PDRC integration into its climate action plan, particularly in efforts to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels. The technology could be especially impactful in lowering the substantial energy demands of hotels and resorts across the islands. On the Big Island, PDRC could complement geothermal and solar resources, further reducing the carbon footprint of cooling. The state’s commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045 makes PDRC an attractive option for reducing overall energy demand.

10. Tennessee

The Volunteer State’s hot, humid summers strain air conditioners from Memphis to Knoxville. PDRC could be a key player in Nashville’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, particularly in rapidly developing areas. In Chattanooga, known for its environmental initiatives, PDRC could complement existing green building practices and further cement the city’s reputation as a sustainability leader.

11. South Carolina

While coastal areas like Charleston grapple with humidity, inland cities like Columbia, known as “Famously Hot,” could greatly benefit from PDRC. It could be a crucial tool in mitigating urban heat islands identified by the state’s climatology office. The technology could also prove invaluable in Greenville, where the rapidly growing city is seeking innovative solutions to balance development with environmental concerns.

12. Alabama

In the Heart of Dixie, where summertime electricity bills skyrocket, PDRC offers relief. Cities like Birmingham, where historical inequities show up in today’s urban heat islands, could use the tech to combat temperature increases in vulnerable neighborhoods. In Huntsville, the state’s tech hub, PDRC could be integrated into the city’s smart growth initiatives, potentially serving as a model for other mid-sized cities across the Southeast.

13. Mississippi

The Magnolia State’s steamy summers make it a prime candidate for passive daytime radiative cooling. In Jackson, where aging infrastructure struggles with peak demands, PDRC could provide much-needed relief to the power grid. The Gulf Coast cities like Biloxi and Gulfport could also benefit significantly, using PDRC to enhance resilience against increasing heat and humidity linked to climate change.

14. Louisiana

From the French Quarter to the bayous, Louisiana’s unique architecture could benefit from PDRC. It could be particularly effective in reducing the urban heat island effect in New Orleans, where nighttime temperatures have risen dramatically over the past century. In Baton Rouge, where the state capitol complex undergoes frequent renovations, PDRC could be showcased as an innovative solution for large-scale public buildings.

15. Oklahoma

In the land of tornados and wild temperature swings, PDRC could provide stable cooling. Cities like Oklahoma City, which has seen increasing numbers of 100°F+ days, could utilize PDRC in future versions of adaptokc, the city’s first sustainability plan. And with Oklahoma City and Tulsa tied for first in greenhouse gas emissions per capita, PDRC may be just what’s needed to help wean the state off of a long reliance on cheap carbon heavy energy.

16. Arkansas

The Natural State’s diverse topography, from the Ozarks to the Mississippi Delta, presents varied cooling needs. PDRC could be particularly effective in urban areas like Little Rock, supporting the city’s sustainability action plan. In Fayetteville, home to the University of Arkansas, PDRC could be incorporated into the institution’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2040, serving as both a practical solution and an educational tool.

17. Kentucky

From the Bluegrass Region to the Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky’s varying elevations affect cooling needs. PDRC could be a valuable tool in Louisville’s efforts to combat urban heat islands, which have been extensively mapped by local researchers. In Lexington, the horse capital of the world, PDRC could offer innovative cooling solutions for equine facilities, potentially improving both animal welfare and energy efficiency.

18. Virginia

The Old Dominion’s climate ranges from the coastal humidity of Virginia Beach to the cooler mountain air of the Blue Ridge. PDRC could be particularly effective in the rapidly growing Northern Virginia region, helping to offset increased energy demands. In Richmond, the state capital, PDRC could play a key role in the city’s RVAgreen 2050 plan, which aims for net-zero emissions and 100% clean energy by 2050.

19. Missouri

In the Show-Me State, PDRC could show real results. St. Louis, with a significant urban heat island effect and challenging summer humidity, could use PDRC to drive neighborhood scale cooling of some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Kansas City’s ambitious climate protection plan could leverage PDRC to help achieve its goals, particularly in reducing emissions from buildings.

20. Illinois

The Prairie State’s extreme temperature swings make both heating and cooling a challenge. In Chicago, where the tragic 1995 heatwave highlighted the dangers of urban heat, PDRC could be a lifesaver, particularly in neighborhoods identified as high-risk by the city’s heat mapping initiatives. Downstate, smaller green cities like Springfield could adopt passive daytime radiative cooling to reduce cooling costs for government buildings, setting an example for energy efficiency in public structures.

21. Kansas

In the Sunflower State, where summer temperatures routinely exceed 100°F, radiative cooling is sure to bloom. It could be particularly effective in Wichita, the state’s largest city, helping to meet goals outlined in the city’s comprehensive energy plan. In Topeka, the state capital, PDRC could be integrated into efforts to revitalize downtown areas, combining economic and urban development with sustainable futuristic cooling solutions.

22. Utah

The Beehive State’s high elevation and arid climate create ideal conditions for PDRC. In Salt Lake City, where poor air quality often compounds summer heat, PDRC could be a breath of fresh air, supporting the city’s Climate Positive 2040 goals. The rapidly growing tech hub of Provo could leverage PDRC to attract environmentally conscious businesses and maintain its reputation as one of the best places to live in America.

23. Colorado

The Centennial State’s high altitude gives it a PDRC advantage. In Denver, where the Mile High City is experiencing more frequent heat waves, PDRC could be crucial in reducing the urban heat island effect, particularly in neighborhoods identified as vulnerable by the city’s heat mapping efforts. Boulder, known for its environmental leadership, could incorporate PDRC into its ambitious climate commitment, potentially becoming a model for high-altitude urban cooling strategies.

24. Indiana

The Hoosier State’s hot, humid summers and cold winters present diverse cooling challenges. In Indianapolis, PDRC could play a key role in the city’s Thrive Indianapolis plan, potentially reducing both emissions and cooling costs. The technology could also benefit South Bend’s ambitious carbon neutrality goal, complementing the city’s existing green initiatives and its partnership with the University of Notre Dame on climate research.

25. Ohio

The Buckeye State’s numerous industrial cities could see significant benefits from passive daytime radiative cooling. In Cleveland, where the urban heat island effect is significant, PDRC could complement the Cleveland Tree Plan, helping to cool neighborhoods with a combination of nature and sustainable tech. Cincinnati’s Green Cincinnati Plan could incorporate PDRC as a key strategy, particularly in efforts to reduce emissions from buildings and improve resilience to extreme heat events.

26. Michigan

The Great Lakes State’s varying climates, from Detroit’s urban heat island to the cooler Upper Peninsula, present diverse radiative cooling opportunities. In Detroit, PDRC could be a valuable tool in the city’s sustainability action agenda, particularly in addressing equity issues related to urban heat. Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan and its world-class climate research, could serve as a testing ground for innovative PDRC applications, potentially influencing adoption across the Midwest and the nation.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, the potential for Passive Daytime Radiative Cooling varies significantly across the United States, with some states poised to benefit more than others due to their climate, energy needs, and existing infrastructure. However, it’s important to remember that PDRC technology is still evolving, and its applications are expanding. Even states lower in our rankings may find innovative ways to implement PDRC, particularly as climate change continues to alter temperature patterns nationwide.

The race to cool our built environment more efficiently isn’t just about comfort—it’s about conserving precious energy and water, reducing carbon footprints, and creating more resilient and equitable communities. As passive daytime radiative cooling technology becomes more widely available and adopted, we will likely witness a cooling revolution that reshapes how we think about energy use. The states that lead the way in embracing and implementing this technology could set the standard for a cooler, more sustainable future.

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Chris Hiller

Chris Hiller

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