El Centro Community Services Department will go ahead with installing black benches in Bucklin Park after it was discovered that the choice of color will not make a significant difference in whether dark-colored benches attract more heat, according to a city official.
"We ended up going with black because doing our research during the budget process, whether we used blue or any other color, the amount of heat the benches attract versus black is negligible," said Adriana Nava, El Centro community services director. "Also, we went with black to preserve the historical feel of the park."
The potential for graffiti influenced the decision as well: Black will cover over any defacement that might occur much more easily, Nava explained. The department also went with metal benches because they last longer.
"Honestly, people seem to really enjoy the metal benches," Nava said. "We have received no complaints about metal benches. Our research showed that everything, wood, plastic, gets hot in 110-degree-plus temperatures."
Earlier studies seem to back up Nava. While light colors are resistant to gathering heat, it is black that provides better protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays, according to the website Sciencing.com.
A 1980 study published in the journal "Nature" and written by Amiram Shkolnik found that in actual experiments, the nomadic herdsmen known as the Bedouins typically wore black robes in hot deserts. While black did absorb more heat, the extra heat remained with the black surface and was lost by the time it was transferred to human flesh.
In still another article from April 2012, in the online periodical Gizmodo, author Esther Inglis-Arkell noted people are typically urged to wear white in summer because white clothing is supposed to keep us cool, but it does not. In fact, black clothing is the better way to keep cool, according to the author.
"When we wear white, we cook ourselves," Inglis-Arkell writes. "The best color to keep cool in the heat, it turns out, is to wear black. Black absorbs everything coming in from the sun, sure. But black also absorbs energy from the body instead of reflecting it back."