June 11, 2007

SAVING THE PLANET — or at least some energy — with white roofs. It’s worth a try! Megan McArdle has thoughts, and so does Mark Kleiman, who says that the idea is too simple and obvious to interest the political/policy community. “Just as a child is unlikely to be impressed with a highly efficient engine, because it fails to make a satisfyingly loud noise, or to trust a medicine that doesn’t taste bitter, a political journalist is unlikely to be impressed with an innovation that doesn’t cost a lot of money or create some other sort of major inconvenience or controversy.”

He’s probably right. Now if there were a White Roof Association to hire lobbyists . . . .

Actually, I’m a pioneer in this. I’ve reroofed twice using lighter (though not white) shingles because I researched and discovered that there’s a nontrivial difference in energy savings between going with dark gray and going with light gray.

So I’m on board. And there’s the Georgia White Roof Amendment as precedent.

UPDATE: It would have to be at the top of this guy’s list. Khaaannnn!

MORE: It appears that TigerHawk was ahead of the curve on this one. But a reader sends a downside:

California already has a cool roofing requirement (Title 24). And it isn’t as easy as “painting your roof white”. There are all sorts of requirements such as meeting .70 reflectivity and .75 emissivity. In addition you need a permit to replace your roof, and may be required to replace/upgrade the insulation (they have look up tables based on your zone). You got all nanny-ish about the cf bulbs, but at least for that you didn’t need a PERMIT.

Nannyish? I didn’t support a CFL requirement. There’s nothing nannyish about encouraging people to give them a try. More on the California rule here. And here’s more on cool roofs generally.

Here’s still more (a bit dated but still useful) from the Heat Island Group at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. And, you know, this needn’t be solely a global-warming issue — reducing urban heat-island effects would also have other benefits. In addition, reduced energy consumption is good in itself, especially to the extent it reduces U.S. dependence on foreign sources, which tend to be unpleasant.

STILL MORE: Reader Rob Hafernik emails:

When they were getting ready to shingle our roof, they came out with a palette of shingles for me to pick from. I said, “surely it saves a lot of heat to go with the lightest color.” The roofer said, “yep, saves a ton of energy, but most folks care most about the color they think looks best.” I said, “saving on cooling bills looks best to me.”

This isn’t rocket science, you know?

If it were, it would get more attention!