White Roofs to Sweep the World, Fight Climate Change
Photo via Marmel Radziner Prefab
It's long been known that white roofs reflect more heat back into space, reducing the amount of electricity used for A/C and thus drastically cutting down on energy consumption. Some estimates say they save billions of dollars annually. And they've just gotten their most public, most official shout out yet--Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu has recommended that the world should try to have "white roofs everywhere to help fight climate change"--remarks that were carried in hundreds of news wires around the world.According to Bloomberg,
Painting flat roofs of homes and commercial buildings white would reflect more of the sun's heat back to space and reduce electricity used for air conditioning by as much as 15 percent, Chu told reporters today in London, citing research by Arthur Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission.
Chu was speaking at a climate change symposium hosted by the Prince of Wales, and he called for a 'new revolution' in energy--with a number of initiatives like white roofing, stressed necessary for fighting global warming. He said that white or paler roofs would make a huge difference in scaling back energy consumption, and curbing carbon emissions. He also said that for now, he prefers solutions like white roofs to more intensive geo-engineering solutions like injecting the atmosphere with reflective particles--a suggestion that drew widespread attention and some ridicule when announced a couple weeks ago.
"Art Rosenfeld is pushing very hard for geo-engineering that we all believe will be completely benign and that is when you have a flat-roofed building, make it white," Chu said. "It's the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years."
It's such a simple concept that some states, like California, have already mandated commercial buildings be constructed with white roofs. But paler colors shouldn't be restricted to flat roofed commercial buildings, either:
For sloping roofs that are more visible than flat ones, Chu said paints known as "cool colors" are being developed. Those hues look like colors in the visible spectrum while reflecting a bigger portion of infra-red light, he said. Roads can also be made paler, he said.
With endorsements from such high profile figures as Chu--his remarks were carried in over 1,000 news wires--white roofs may be set for a revolution of their own.