Los Angeles is set to have the coolest roofs in the country, but it has nothing to do with how awesome the architecture is. Following a unanimous decision by the LA City Council, all new (or refurbished) roofs in the nation’s second largest city will utilize “cool” roof technology.
So what does a cool roof do that a normal roof doesn’t? Primarily, it reflects sunlight off the building. Typical roofs only bounce about 20% of sunlight away, but cool roofs deflect 80% of the sun’s rays. As a result of avoiding heat absorption from the sun, cool roofs can be up to 50 degrees cooler than normal roofs.
It’s not just the roofs that experience relief from this treatment – the inside of the buildings also benefit. Even at peak heat, building interiors measure several degrees cooler than usual thanks to the special roofs.
With the temperature sure to rise in the future thanks to climate change, the added cooling from the roofs will certainly be a welcome addition for Angelinos. The same roofs will also ideally play a role in keeping the temperature down by helping to reduce emissions. Since a cooler house will require less air-conditioning, that means less pollution. Not to mention a lower energy bill, as well.
The new roofs will not only provide relief from the weather, but also vibrancy to the sky-scape. Though most roofs in Los Angeles are black, that color naturally absorbs too much heat to be utilized with cool roof technology. Instead, homeowners have the choice of outfitting their domiciles with red, white, or gray roofs.
Although cool roof material is more expensive than traditional shingles, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a program to compensate for the extra cost. With a rebate from the LADWP, homeowners can obtain the material for cool roofs at 20 to 30 cents less per square foot.
People – whether they live in Los Angeles or elsewhere – who want to add cool roofs to their own homes don’t even have to redo their roofs entirely to benefit from the technology. Existing roofs can be fitted with cool roof materials to reflect sunlight, as well.
Climate Resolve, an eco-advocacy organization in Los Angeles, is the group that effectively lobbied the LA City Council to adopt the new regulations to the Municipal Building Code. Cool roofs are just one of the initiatives that Climate Resolve has pursued in order to help counteract the damage of global warming.
Los Angeles may be the first major city to adopt a cool roof requirement, but it certainly won’t be alone for long. Not only are homes throughout the country already being topped with cool roofs, but also other environmental groups are actively encouraging city governances to consider roof policy changes of their own.
Photo Credit: /USDAgov