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These new roofs shelter from the sun's heat and cut down on
Global warming and ozone worries are nothing new to most of us.
Every day, alarming admonitions on the news warn us against the
evils of thoughtless energy consumption, pollution and wasteful
use of resources. So we recycle what we can, buy unbleached
paper products and fit our cars with the latest earth-friendly
technology. But who knew the color of your roof could be
depleting the ozone layer?
Jeff Luvall, senior research scientist at NASA, has researched
the effect sunlight has on the temperatures of dark surfaces
like roofs. Luvall found that on a normal sunny day, the
temperature of a light-colored shady sidewalk was 70 degrees.
Inches away on a slightly darker though sunny patch of grass,
the temperature was an uncomfortable 90 degrees.
You may be thinking that it doesn't take a scientist from NASA
to know it's hotter in the sun than in the shade. But it's
Luvall's next measurements that will shock you: the dark asphalt
street next to that grassy patch was a scorching 123
degrees--that's nearly 20 degrees above the temperature that
causes the human body to suffer heat stroke.
Now for the good news: the white stripes painted on that street
were 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding dark asphalt. Ten
degrees may not seem like a lot when you're talking about
temperatures already above 100, but in your house, 10 degrees
can mean the difference between being comfortable and being hot,
between having to turn on the air conditioning and not.
Naturally, houses sheltered by a dark roof are going to be
hotter and require more energy to cool them.
Cooling our homes uses one-sixth of the total electrical power
produced in the U.S., at a cost of $40 billion every year. To
fulfill this increased demand for power, power plants burn more
already-scarce fossil fuels, which results in increased air
pollution, also known as smog. Making a bad situation worse,
concentrated areas of dark roofs and asphalt roads emit heat
into the air around them. Coupled with fewer green spaces and
trees to create shade, this causes urban areas to be hotter than
less populated areas, creating a phenomenon known as "urban heat
islands." On summer days, these heat islands can be 6to 8
degrees hotter than the surrounding areas. Smog is also
sensitive to temperature, and on hotter days, the concentration
of smog is greater.
So as our dark roofs collect and emit heat, the air around them
in our neighborhoods gets warmer, and the air pollution we cause
by trying to keep cool gets worse. It's an ominous cycle, but
fortunately the solution is as simple as the problem and has the
same domino affect. Dan Varvais of the National Coatings
Corporation says that his company's light-colored roofs repel
the sun's heat rather than absorb it, making our homes cooler
and requiring less energy used to keep them comfortable.
This cool roofing technology begins with a base of light,
reflective materials, which are coated with polyurethane foam.
An acrylic coating containing UV-blocking pigments is then
sprayed on top of the foam. Much like people wearing sunscreen
and thin layers of light-colored clothing, these light-colored
roofs will act as a big reflector, providing protection from the
sun's light and energy. As a result, our homes will absorb less
solar heat, and that means fewer cooling costs.
With these reflective roofs in place, even northern cities like
New York, Baltimore and Chicago could save $10 million to $15
million every year in cooling costs. The savings are closer to
$40 million a year in sunny cities like Houston, Los Angeles and
Phoenix. In all, Americans could save as much as $750 million a
year, but the savings aren't just monetary. Lower temperatures
both inside and outside our homes would result in less air
pollution and ozone damage. "If we can lower urban air
temperatures , we can improve the air quality, we can reduce
energy consumption, we can reduce dependency on fossil fuels,"
These high-tech roofs cut down on landfill waste, too. They last
longer than conventional roofs, and since the installation is
much like the application of paint, it's just sprayed directly
onto the existing roof. This cover-over installation process
eliminates the need for tearing out and disposing old roofing
materials, which helped comprise the 11 million tons of asphalt
waste already sitting in U.S. landfills.
Here's more good news: builders and engineers have begun
experimenting with lighter-colored asphalt on our country's
roadways, and some larger cities like Chicago, Salt Lake City
and Sacramento already have regulations in place to begin
combating the affects of these urban heat islands. Homes in
these cities and in parts of Florida were outfitted with
reflective roofs and were found to use as much as 40 percent
less energy than homes in the same area with dark roofs.
The environmental and economical savings to be had with
cool-roof technology are astounding. And according to Luvall,
planting more trees in conjunction with this cool-roof
technology can lower an average city's daily temperature by
several degrees and accomplish the same air quality goals as the
more daunting task of converting all of that same city's cars to
roofing jobs, we stress
preparation because surface preparation is 75% of the job.
We do it right the first time so you don't have to
do it a second time!
GOOD NEWS! Frustrated
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