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Summary:

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu shows off the DOE’s new cool roof and explains the benefits of ditching a dark roof and opting for a cooler (lighter one).

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Here’s some fun facts about white roofs — or cool roofs, as Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu puts it in this video clip this morning.

  • Dark roofs can heat up to 50 degrees hotter than light roofs.
  • Dark roofs in the U.S. have delivered at least a billion dollars a year in extra power bills.
  • Cities are often 2 to 5 degrees hotter than less urban areas due to dark surfaces.
  • A cool roof can lead to 10 to 15 percent lower energy bills.
  • If a little more than 3/4 of commercial buildings in the U.S. got a cool roof, the U.S. would save enough energy via air-conditioning to reduce carbon emissions by about 6 million metric tons each year.

Chu is calling for more buildings owners to opt for cooler roofs, as a way to reduce carbon emissions, but also to save money on air conditioning bills:

For more research, check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

  1. I’m a big fan of Secretary Chu. I think he makes a great ambassador for innovation in sustainability, because he’s so likable, he can make complicated subjects easier to grasp, and he’s so damn smart the skeptics can’t argue with him. It’s nice to have an actual scientist as the head of the DOE as well. A breath of fresh air for sure.

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  2. @Brian – totally agree!

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  3. Roofs are a great area for efficiency improvement, especially since the cost of putting in a cool roof is often no more than a standard roof. Chu focuses on commercial properties, but cool roofs are also a great option for residential properties, either in white (best for reflecting heat, but aesthetically not for all) or in colors that reflect heat but look virtually the same as normal tiles or shingles.

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