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The “White Roof Project”: the most cost-efficient way of fighting climate change yet
An unexpected way to cut down on our costs and environmental impact might be right above our heads

Save 40% On Your Electric Bill By Painting Your Roof White

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You don’t have to spend 1.9 million USD to make a positive environmental impact. There are simple tricks to save money while staying green! The environmental impact of your roof’s color might not have crossed your mind, but prepare for a surprise. Many urban areas in America have dark, tar-based rooftops which absorb the heat of hot summer months. To cool these buildings down, both money and energy is wasted. The “White Roof Project”has come up with a solution that is both simple and ingenious: using solar-reflective white coating to paint roofs.

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Architect AND-RÉ took this concept and ran with it, designing a series of hotels coated entirely with white paint. Not only did he take the environmental aspect into consideration, he also set out to create a holistic and calming environment. Eco-conscious peace of mind and body for lodgers at the White Wolf Hotel.

Why Painting Your Roof White May Be Better Than Rooftop Gardens

To some, the “White Roof Project” seems like a low-rent alternative to Rooftop Gardens, the green vegetated roofs that have already begun to replace black roofs. Research has shown the opposite to be true:

• White roofs are more cost-efficient throughout their life-cycle than black roofs.
• Green roofs are more costly throughout the duration of their life-cycle than white or black roofs.
• The installation and replacement costs of green roofs outweigh their service lives.
• Green roofs are three times less effective at cooling the globe than white roofs.
• Phasing out dark roofs in lieu of green and white roofs is beneficial for the overall public health.

Taking these facts into consideration makes it clear that the “White Roof Project” is the greener direction.

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Thinking Environmentally And Fiscally With White Roofs

There’s little controversy about the advantages of a white roof compared to a conventional black roof. Most black roofs are made with roofing tar: a dark, oily mixture containing solvents, surface adherents and mineral fillers. As far removed from environmentally conscious as you can get. These dark roofs absorb so much heat that the environmental and fiscal cost of cooling the inside of the building and maintaining the roofs is excessive. Especially when a white roof is an easy way to make a positive impact. Even Former US President Bill Clinton has been a long time proponent of the white roofs:

“Every black roof in New York should be white; every roof in Chicago should be white; every roof in Little Rock should be white. Every flat tar-surface roof anywhere! In most of these ​places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week.”

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Opposing Argument — Reflected Sunlight May Hinder Light Blocking Cloud Formations

So should we all run out to our nearest DIY store and stock up on white paint? Not quite yet. Studies conducted by researchers Ten Hoeve and Mark Z. Jacobson from Stanford University have come up with data that draw different conclusions: the reflective nature of the white coating might actually hinder the creation of the cloud formations that would normally block out the sun. Also, these white roof projects have none of the added value of green rooftop gardens. It does not improve a building’s insulation nor does it reduce rainwater runoff.

What is clear, however, is that both green and white rooftops are climate-change conscious and beneficial to the environment.

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Originally published at on October 19, 2015.