BY: CAROLINE ROLF
Due to environmental pressures, an ecological mandate has been established that rooftops in densely-populated cities go green, which significantly improves air quality by absorbing pollutants while producing oxygen. A green roof is a sure way to make a positive environmental impact, but there’s another colour that might be worth your consideration. Many urban homes across North America have dark, tar-based roofs that waste both money and energy to cool down in the summer and retain heat in the colder months. Now there is a solution that is a simple as it is innovative: painting your roof white.
The White Roof Project’s mission is simple: to coat every building’s roof with a white, reflective coating that will repel sunlight and drastically reduce the temperature of the building and surrounding environment. Modifying your rooftop with a solar-reflective coating is a quick and low-cost way to save millions of dollars in energy costs, prevent a dreaded brownout and possibly curb climate change. The statistics show that a roof covered in the special white paint reflects 70% more sunlight than a traditional dark roof. This means on a 90° F day, a black roof can heat up to a whopping 180° F, making the interior of the building as hot as 125° F. A white roof on the other hand, remains at a cool 100° F, keeping the inside around 80° F.
These light roofs have the opportunity to reduce the “urban heat island” effect in which dense urban areas are about 5 degrees warmer because of the inflation of heat-radiating black surfaces. Take New York City for example, where roofs account for 12% of all surfaces. The organization estimates that “implementing a white roof program in 11 metropolitan cities could save the United States 7 gigawatts in energy usage.” That would be the same as shutting down 14 power plants and saving $750 million each year. The mission began at the Bowery Mission in NYC when 150 young volunteers saw that all it takes is a paint roller, some reflective white coating and some manual labour to help the climate.
The non-profit project focuses mainly on buildings with low-income residents by using private donations and volunteers to coat the rooftops for free. The concept is common sense that is easy to implement and creates evident change for individuals, cities and hopefully someday, globally. As environmental and energy awareness grows, people are beginning to understand that a simple solution can make a mighty change. So go ahead and grab a paintbrush before the dog days return.