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Stanford researchers develop colorful paint that reflects sunlight to keep buildings cool

White buildings, iconic in sun-drenched countries like Greece and Morocco, have long showcased the benefits of reflective architecture. The sun's rays bounce off white surfaces, leaving interiors cooler. As climate change intensifies, it's a practice that's gained global traction — from informal settlements in India to rooftops in New York City.

White, however, isn't always the most practical or suitable color. Or one that retains local or architectural character. Recognizing this, Stanford University researchers have developed a vibrant solution. Unveiled this week, their paint is applied in two steps: first, an infrared reflective layer infused with aluminum flakes, then an ultrathin, infrared-transparent layer incorporating nanoparticles in a wide range of colors.

While Stanford's invention may not match the reflection rates of the ultra-white paint developed at Purdue University, its palette could fuel adoption in settings that prioritize color for cultural, aesthetic or practical reasons. In addition to buildings, the paint could also be used to lower temperatures in other objects, including refrigerated trucks. No word on commercial availability timelines, but the Stanford researchers have applied for a US patent.

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Last year, we featured a Coors Light campaign that used extra-reflective paint to cover Miami rooftops with 'chillboards' to help cool 96 apartments. While Coors' creative team was limited to white, the new Stanford paint offers a full spectrum of opportunities for brands to creatively integrate climate adaptation into their operations and marketing strategies. 

Maybe start with company buildings to lower your own energy costs and carbon footprint. Or partner with local artists to create public murals using reflective paint to support the arts, beautify the community and combat urban heat islands. Offer to paint schools or community centers, and get employees involved in the painting process... Well — you get the idea ;)