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Global model confirms: Cool roofs can offset carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate global warming
Date:7/19/2010

our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change," said Chu. "By demonstrating the benefits of cool roofs on our facilities, the federal government can lead the nation toward more sustainable building practices, while reducing the federal carbon footprint and saving money for taxpayers."

In the latest study, the Berkeley Lab researchers and their collaborators used a detailed global land surface model from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which contained regional information on surface variables, such as topography, evaporation, radiation and temperature, as well as on cloud cover. For the northern hemisphere summer, they found that increasing the reflectivity of roof and pavement materials in cities with a population greater than 1 million would achieve a one-time offset of 57 gigatons (1gigaton equals 1 billion metric tons) of CO2 emissions (31 Gt from roofs and 26 Gt from pavements). That's double the worldwide CO2 emissions in 2006 of 28 gigatons. Their results were published online in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

"These offsets help delay warming that would otherwise take place if actual CO2 emissions are not reduced," says Surabi Menon, staff scientist at Berkeley Lab and lead author of the paper.

Co-author Hashem Akbari emphasizes that cool roofs and pavements are only a part of the solution: "Two years worth of emissions is huge, but compared to what we need to do, it's just a dent in the problem," says Akbari, the former head of the Berkeley Lab Heat Island Group and now Hydro-Quebec Industrial Research Professor at Concordia University in Montreal. "We've been dumping CO2 into the atmosphere for the last 200 years as if there's no future."

This study is a follow-up to a 2008 paper published in the journal Climate Change, which calculated the CO2 offset from cool surfaces by using a simplified model that assumed a global average for cloud cover. The earlier paper, co-authored
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Contact: Julie Chao
JHChao@lbl.gov
510-486-6491
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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