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

ture reduction is an indication that implementing cool surfaces can be only part of the solution to the global climate change problem, the researchers say. To put the number in context, consider that global temperatures are estimated to increase about 3 degrees Celsius in the next 40 to 60 years if CO2 emissions continue rising as they have. Preventing that warming would necessitate a 0.05 degree Celsius annual decrease in temperature between now and 2070.

Thus, even modest changes should not be dismissed. "Simply put, a cool roof will save money for homeowners and businesses through reduced air conditioning costs. The real question is not whether we should move toward cool roof technology: it's why we haven't done it sooner," says Rosenfeld.

Other Studies Reach Similar Conclusions

Another recent study on cool roofs, led by Keith Oleson at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and published in Geophysical Research Letters, found that if every roof were painted entirely white, the CO2 emission offsets would be approximately 32 Gt for summer and about 30 Gt annually. While the NCAR study used a different model, the calculated CO2 emission offsets are similar to the results from the Berkeley Lab study and provide a useful and independent verification of the expected CO2 emission offsets from increasing the reflectivity of roofs.

Some observers have pointed out that cool roofs do not make sense in cooler climates because of "winter penalties," since cooler buildings require more energy to heat. However, the energy savings from cooler buildings usually outweighs any increase in heating costs. Furthermore, in winter, there tends to be more cloud cover; also, the sun is lower and the days are shorter, so a flat roof's exposure to the sun is significantly reduced.

"Cool roofs have worked for thousands of years in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cities, where demand for air conditioning is low," says Akb
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Contact: Julie Chao
JHChao@lbl.gov
510-486-6491
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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