Since being appointed as the Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu has been talking all about the benefits of white roofs. Now he’s going to put his own department where his mouth is by mandating that all new roofs on Energy Department buildings be either white or reflective. In his statement this week he noted the cooling effect that white roofs have on buildings — especially air-conditioned ones — as well as their ability to drastically lower energy costs – $735 million per year to be exact, if 85% of all air-conditioned buildings in the US had white roofs. With all the crises that have been going down lately, we could really use that moolah!!!
Dr. Chu has been touting white roofs for a while now. In 2009, he talked to The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart about their benefits. “When you’re thinking of putting on a new roof, make it white,” Dr. Chu said. “It costs no more to make it white than to make it black,” he added. It won’t cost any more to make your new roof white rather than the usual gray or black – and did we mention that it could save us a TON of money?
“Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change,” Dr. Chu said in a statement about his new mandate. White roofs could also drastically reduce what is known as the “heat island effect.” It is a phenomenon caused by all of the dark heat absorbing surfaces in urban areas. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory’s Heat Island Group showed that increasing the reflectivity of road and roof surfaces in urban areas with populations over 1 million would reduce carbon dioxide emissions 1.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 300 million cars of the road.