White Roofs Becoming a “Cool” Trend In The Green Movement

Article courtesy of the St. Louis Regional

Clean Air Partnership


Is white becoming the new green? When it comes to roofs, that may now be the case, as green builders, businesses and homeowners nationwide explore the benefits of white roofs.

Because white roofs reflect incoming solar rays back to space, studies suggest that the simple act of painting rooftops white could help cool cities and our planet. In fact, model simulations show that if every roof was painted entirely white, the urban heat island effect could be reduced by nearly a third, cooling the world’s cities by an average of about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Research also indicates that white roofs can cool temperatures inside buildings, helping to reduce the demand for air conditioning, cut cooling costs and conserve energy.

“The environment has the potential to benefit greatly from white roofs,” said Susannah Fuchs, Senior Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of the Central States. “Because they cut back on the amount of energy being used, they help reduce emissions from burning coal used to produce electricity, meaning the environment benefits from cleaner air overall.”

Studies also point to the economic benefits for those incorporating white roofs. Research indicates that white roofs can cut cooling costs by 20 to 40 percent. As a result, a building’s air conditioning system will last longer because it’s working less. White roofs guard against sun damage and seal hairline cracks to prevent leaks from forming, allowing them to last 10 years longer than a traditional black roof.

In the St. Louis region, the large number of flat roofs found in the area’s historic neighborhoods and the high summer temperatures it sees make the city a prime candidate for incorporating white roofs. And since last spring, Jill Miller, founder and owner of White Caps, Green Collars, LLC, has been dedicated to promoting the benefits of white roofs to area homeowners, businesses and property managers.

Miller’s company applies solar-reflective roof coatings to local homes and businesses, and hopes to offset one million pounds of carbon dioxide in the region by the end of 2010. As the company works toward its goal, the public can track its progress at www.whitecapsgreencollars.com.

Because a city’s location, the density of roofs and a building’s construction can all affect how much cooling can occur with white roofs, research on the topic continues. However, Miller encourages anyone in the St. Louis area who’s interested in learning more about white roofs or obtaining a free estimate to contact her directly at 314-359-4697.

To learn about other steps you can take to improve energy efficiency and help St. Louis breathe easier, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com or call the American Lung Association at (314) 645-5505, ext. 1007.