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Home Roofs – Big Problem and Simple Solution?

white roofSome people believe that nuclear power is the answer to climate change, others have proposed green technologies such as wind or solar power, but Barack Obama’s top man on global warming has suggested something far simpler – painting your roof white.

Speaking in London prior to a meeting of some of the world’s best minds on how to combat climate change, Steven Chu, the US Secretary of Energy and a Nobel prize-winning scientist, said last week that making roofs and pavements white or light-colored would help to reduce global warming by both conserving energy and reflecting sunlight back into space.

“Now you smile, but if you look at all the buildings and make all the roofs white, and if you make the pavement a more concrete-type of color than a black-type of color, and you do this uniformly… It’s the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years,” he said.   “It’s like you’ve just taken them off the road for 11 years. It’s actually geo-engineering.”

The principle could also be extended to cars where white or “cool colors” designed to reflect light and radiation could make vehicles more energy efficient in summer. “If all vehicles were light-coloured, there could be considerable savings because then you can downsize the air conditioning… and downsizing the air conditioner means more efficient air conditioning and a considerable reduction in energy,” he said.

“The idea would even work in countries with temperate climates, such as Britain, because white-coloured roofs would help to reflect the radiated heat from homes and offices back into the building during winter months,” said Dr Chu. “One unresolved issue concerns the aesthetic considerations of making sloping roofs white. But with flat roofs that are not visible from the street, there should be no objection to painting them white.” He said energy efficiency will be the most immediate way of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Don’t some of the most complicated problems in the world sometimes have the most simple solutions?  It takes a genius to see it and it takes a president to sell it.

Now, where is that number of my favorite painter guy?

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