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

by Akbari, Menon and Art Rosenfeld, a Berkeley Lab physicist who was then a member of the California Energy Commission, found that implementing cool roofs and pavements worldwide could offset 44 gigatons of CO2 (24 Gt from roofs and 20 Gt from pavements).

Equivalent to Getting 300 Millions Cars Off the Road

"If all eligible urban flat roofs in the tropics and temperate regions were gradually converted to white (and sloped roofs to cool colors), they would offset the heating effect of the emission of roughly 24 Gt of CO2, but one-time only," says Rosenfeld, who returned to Berkeley Lab this year. "However, if we assume that roofs have a service life of 20 years, we can think of an equivalent annual rate of 1.2 Gt per year. That offsets the emissions of roughly 300 million cars (about the cars in the world) for 20 years!"

In both studies, the researchers used a conservative assumption of increasing the average albedo (solar reflectance) of all roofs by 0.25 and of pavements by 0.15. That means a black roof (which has an albedo of 0) would not have to be replaced by a pure white roof (which has an albedo of 1), but just a roof of a cooler color, a scenario that is more plausible to implement.

Roofs and pavements cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas. Because they absorb so much heat, dark-colored roofs and roadways create what is called the urban heat island effect, where a city is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. This additional heat also eventually contributes to global warming. More than half of the world's population now lives in cities; by 2040 the proportion of urbanites is expected to reach 70 percent, adding urgency to the urban heat island problem.

The Berkeley Lab study found that global land surface temperature decreased by a modest amountan average of roughly 0.01degrees Celsius, based on an albedo increase of .003 averaged over all global land surfaces. This relatively small tempera
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Contact: Julie Chao
JHChao@lbl.gov
510-486-6491
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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