Over the last couple of days there's been all sorts of talk and stories flying about the Internet regarding "Cool roofs" and their value as far as cooling goes and energy savings. It's interesting to see that something so simple as painting your roof white has the potential to produce fairly decent cut in our carbon footprint and in cooling costs over the summer.
From the Washington Post story ...
"According to Berkeley Lab's Art Rosenfeld, an average, 1,000-square-foot roof painted white can save 10 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of emissions from one car for about 2 1/2 years. On a national scale, turning roofs cool could eliminate 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, about the same as taking 20 million cars off the road for 20 years, according to Rosenfeld, who carried out his experiments with Hashem Akbari at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California."
As with most new or not so new ideas, you need to take into account all the costs associated with this before you get out your paintbrush. One thing to consider is that this may be one of those things that works well in one part of the country and not the other. You will need to identify the correct paint for your type of current roofing material and you will also need to check with your municipality as to the suitability and the question of any code and restrictions for your area.
But isn't it great to have options? What a big change over the past.
Another direction you may want to look at is a vegetative roof systems.This involves replacing your traditional roof covering with either full planting or some kind of modular container system. The advantage of a vegetative roof is not just for heating and cooling cost. You get the additional bonus of controlling the run off of storm water which is a major environmental concern.Burns-Scalo have a rather nifty interactive page on green solutions for both home and work.
And we have some local stories that show work being done in the area: Allegheny County Office Building roof going green and Pitt study shows green roofs help delay rainwater and sewage overflow.
Couple of resources to check out:
Pretty good discussion with a fair amount of pros and cons if you're interested from our friends at the New York Times.
Cool Roof Rating Council's site for more information.
Energy Star have a listing of tax breaks that you may want to consider also. These are for "Metal roofs with appropriate pigmented coatings" and "asphalt roofs with appropriate cooling granules."
And of course About.com.