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Can Reflective Roofing Save Energy and Help the Environment?
By Bob Schildgen
Hey Mr. Green,
I liked your article about the amount of space needed to provide solar power in the United States. I have wondered how many roofs would have to be painted white to replace the albedo of the melting ice caps. We live in Houston, Texas, and I've often thought of painting ours white to reduce our AC bill.
— Dianne, in Houston
Painting rooftops white may have some promise, although there remains considerable debate about its benefits, especially given that the soot in our air has the potential to trap their reflected heat.
There are several other factors to also consider. The cooling effects of the white roof could, for example, force folks to turn the furnace up in winter, thereby offsetting at least some of its benefit. As the EPA politely and rather cautiously reminds us: "Please remember the energy savings that can be achieved with reflective roofing is highly dependent on facility design, insulation used, climatic conditions, building location, and building envelope efficiency."
If you'd like to dig deeper into the issue and come up with a specific calculation for your location and type of dwelling, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory offers a Cool Roof Calculator. Based on evidence I've seen, the benefits of the white roof would probably be greater in your area than in cities farther north. Good luck with your research!
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
mevans / E+ / Getty Images
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.