“Can White Roofs Help Fight Global Warming”

November 6, 2014 11:36 am0 commentsViews: 126

By: Olivia Moore

"Can White Roofs Help Fight Global Warming"

In recent years, there has been significant debate about whether white roofs can help reduce global warming. Since it is really hard to tell which theory works best, here we share information about both of them to help you decide for yourself.

 In Favour of White Roofs

First off, why white roofs? As you know, white reflects heat. Research from Arizona State University led by Matei Georgescu showed that white roofs can offset global warming. The reason for this is that this keeps buildings cooler and can help reduce overall temperature. This is not only great for nature, but also for us people, as it can lead to a significant decrease in electricity bills.

However, it depends on the region…

According to the scientists, it matters whether you live in Southern or in Northern areas. Climate in Northern areas is cooler during winter, which means that in summer those areas will be thriving but during winter people will need to spend more money on heating.


  • Difficult to maintain: as you know, light-coloured materials are difficult to maintain. They stain more easily and are hard to clean. Not to mention, they don’t stay white for long.
  • Climate: your electricity bill during winter may be bigger because of decrease in heating energy.

Against White Roofs

Now, even though some people support the theory that white roofs can fight global warming, there are some stern opponents. According to a new study conducted by Stanford University, whitewashing roofs may not be as good as claimed. Researchers from the University suggest this may even do harm. For some time global warming sceptics have claimed that we people and the greenhouse gases we produce every day should not be considered the largest contributors to climate change, and that the main culprits are cities themselves. According to the new findings, however, 79% of the global warming problem is as a result of these gases. In comparison, only 18% are due to carbon emissions absorbed by sunlight.

White roofs do reflect sunlight. We all know that, we’ve experienced it ourselves. For example, when we put on dark clothes, our bodies warm up. It’s proved: white reflects heat, black absorbs heat. That’s no shock to anyone, right? So what seems to be the problem then? One of the problems is that air pollutants can absorb heat, so when they “spread” to other areas, they actually carry the heat with themselves, which reduces the cooling effect. The other problem has to do with street level heat. If it’s less, only small quantities of water evaporate. Thus, no clouds can be formed, and as you know, clouds limit sunlight.

Who is right?

The truth is out there, they say. It’s really hard to say who is right when there are two contradictory theses. But until we’re 100% sure which theory is authentic, perhaps we shouldn’t rush in the store to buy paintbrushes and whitewash. At the end of the day, there is a grain of truth in what both sides claim and we should probably stick to the golden mean. Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, who led the Stanford research, suggests that instead of whitewashing their roofs, people could just use photovoltaic solar panels. As opposed to white roofs, panels don’t reflect back sunlight.

Yet it seems ridiculous to claim that painting your roof white can be catastrophic. Generally, the choice is yours. Before you know what to do, make more research about the two theories and decide for yourself. There are other energy-efficient options if you’re looking for any.

The article is presented by PromptCleaners Brixton


Photo Credit : Wikipedia


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