The idea of painting roofs white is catching on across the country; Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said it could help in the fight against global warming.
"Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest-cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change," Chu said in July 2010, while announcing that Energy Department buildings would be painted white wherever possible.
Although white roofs keep homes cool in summer by absorbing less heat, they have little impact on winter heating bills, according to the Cool Roof Rating Council, a nonprofit group created in 1998 to research and implement the technology. That's generally because the sun is less intense in winter, the group said, and less important as a heat source. The roofs do not let any more heat escape than other roofs, it said.
In Arizona, cool roofs are mandatory for state and state-funded buildings, while Philadelphia has an ambitious green-energy plan that put cool roofs at its center.
In New York, the Department of Buildings and other public and private groups have vowed to paint 1 million square feet of roof on city-sponsored community buildings. Organizers have advertised on Craigslist for volunteers, promising that the painting is rewarding and fun.
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