WAN Awards 2018


WAN Jobs
News Review
WAN Urban Challenge
WAN Awards
Previous Next

White Roofs, United States

Monday 29 Jun 2009

White is the new green

White Roofs by Editorial in United States
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 4

Add comments | More comments

09/10/09 k-man, SMB
Bermuda has also been burning ALL of their grabage to generate power non stop for the last 40 years. Their building code also requires no insulation whatsoever. DUH!!
30/06/09 tom, pittsburgh, pa
Any discussion of white roof advantages must include mention of climate; the futher north you go the benefits are less clear and paybacks are negligable.
30/06/09 Germano Botelho, Smiths, Bermuda
Bermuda has been doing this for 400 years.
30/06/09 t.bowers, st.george
DUH !! has anyone been to Bermuda ??
We also catch our drinking water from the roofs.

US Energy Secretary vows to save the planet one roof at a time 

America is just catching on to what people in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions have known for some time: white roofs can save in air conditioning costs and keep buildings cool in the summer. But new research indicates they can do much more. Scientists at California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) say that by simply painting all roofs white we can dramatically impact global warming. This research has won the backing of Steven Chu, a world-renowned scientist who is also the US Energy Secretary.

Chu, who was in London recently pitching the idea of global whitewashing to a crowd of Nobel Laureates, said he would do everything he could to make the switch from black to white in support of green, including changing US building regulations to require white roofs on all buildings.

California was the first state to jump on the cool roof bandwagon. In 2005, it mandated the use of white reflective materials for flat roofs. This coming July, it is extending that legislation to include sloped roofs, where “cool coloured” surfaces will now be required. While California’s efforts are laudable, theirs alone cannot significantly impact global warming. To drum up border support, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Labs are taking their show on the road, launching an all out international campaign touting the benefits of cool roofs, particularly in urban areas where their use can cool the air temperature by as much as 10 degrees.

To get the attention of world leaders, Lawrence Berkeley’s scientists have put their research in terms that everyone can understand. “If only roofs are changed from the current dark colors to white for flat roofs and cool colors for sloped roofs we can offset 24 billion tonnes of CO2. If we take only 20 years to implement just the cool roofs portion, it’s the equivalent of taking half the cars in the world off the road for 20 years.”

For architects, such legislation could have dramatic aesthetic results. It’s hard to think of a region in the US, including California, where white roofs are the norm, especially on sloped surfaces. Such a policy as that being proposed could bring an aesthetic uniformity to a country known for its regional architectural differences. Roofing industry experts indicate there may be more ways to skin the global warming cat, such as opting for dark roofs with high emissivity which don’t radiate as much heat back into the environment as their black roof counterparts. Such roofs may be a reasonable alternative to white roofs, which are not without their drawbacks. While white roofs typically have a longer life span than black roofs, they need to be cleaned and re-coated to maintain optimal performance. This is especially the case in areas where there is smog and heavy particulates in the air.

While the white roof argument is compelling it remains to be seen whether and to what extent it will take the US, if not also the world, by storm.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent


More projects by this architect

Cooper Hewitt Museum 2010 National Design Awards

Re-Contemplating the Void

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize

RAIA 2010 Gold Medal

Bruce J Graham

Raimund Abraham,

Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum

Broad Art Museum

Federation of Korean Industries Head Office

Columbia University Manhattanville campus, New York

Forwarding Dallas

Rising Currents, New York

City Center, Las Vegas

Design It: Shelter Competition

2016 Olympic Village, Chicago

Julius Shulman

Re:Vision Dallas

Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio

Burnham Pavilions

Guggenheim 50th Anniversary


Calatrava World Trade Center Transit Hub Exhibition

Plaza Program and Green Lights for Broadway

Museum of African American History and Culture

GSA Design Excellence Awards

Lieb House

Delft Faculty of Architecture

Coney Island Revitalization Plan

Ferrari Headquarters

La Sagrada Familia

Villa Villa

Port Authority Tower

Brooklyn Bridge Park

South Street Seaport Master Plan

Phoenix Art Museum Expansion

ASLA Green Roof

450 West 14th Street

Masdar Headquarters

Artek Pavilion

Atlantic Yards

99 Church Street Tower

Tour Carpe Diem

Liberty Hotel

Miami Art Museum

Hudson Rail Yards

Smithsonian Museum

Manhattanville redevelopment plan, Columbia University

Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre

MGM MIrage CityCenter

Stone Hill Center, Clark Art Institute

Switch Building + Switch Gallery

Metal Shutter Houses

National Museum of American Jewish History


Nichols Bridgeway, Art Institute of Chicago

Transbay Transit Center

Kamraj Domestic Terminal Building at Chennai Airport

Seattle Art Museum

New Art Museum

Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum

P.S. 1 Courtyard Installation

Ed Durell Stone Building

New Central Library for Pike County

Tor Vergata University

Nathan Phillips Square

Weisman Art Museum

Pavilion in Abu Dhabi

Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center

Nelson Atkins Museum Expansion

Regalia Holdings

The Olympic Sculpture Park

The Micheels House

Toledo Museum of Art

Museum of Contemporary Art

Rutgers University

Dallas Center for the Performing Arts

Museum Plaza

Yale University Art Gallery


Boston Tower

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Kalahari Condominium Project

African American Cultural Center

North Carolina Museum of Art

Museum of the City of New York

Princeton University

The Museum of Modern Art

Denver Art Museum

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Orange County Performing Arts Center

Cornell University Milstein

University of Michigan


World Trade Centre

Reinventing Cities

Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site