Paint it White?

Typical buildings in Oia, Santorini in Greece.  Photo credit:  Marius Fiskum

The wave of the future? Typical white buildings in Oia, Santorini in Greece. Photo credit: Marius Fiskum

Speaking in Europe this week, Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu argued for a global initiative to change the color of roofs and roads so that they reflect more sunlight and heat.  This, according to Chu, would have a significant impact on global warming.  Chu said that lightening roofs and roads to the color of cement would have the same impact on greenhouse gas emissions as parking all the world’s cars for 11 years.  In his speech, Chu said that regulations should require that flat roofs be painted white while visible roofs could be painted a cool color that would not dazzle passersby. 

As for how greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced, the answer is simple.  Solar radiation would be reflected back into space and less energy would be necessary to cool buildings.  One of Dr. Chu’s colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, Dr. Art Rosenfeld, has calculated that this plan in the world’s 100 largest cities would decrease carbon dioxide by 44 billion tons.  For more on Dr. Chu’s lecture, see here.


This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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