Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC

One Simple “Green” Idea – Part 1

- By:

Courtesy of Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC

Occasionally people ask me some variation of the following: “I can’t get my company to develop a ‘green’ program. People are either too busy or they worry that it will cost too much or divert us from the things we have to do. Can you suggest one simple, cheap ‘green’ idea that we can implement easily that will result in some tangible benefit? Maybe if it goes well, there’ll be interest in a fuller program”. Excellent question and certainly understandable given the pressure EHS and other managers are under in this economy. This is the first of a series of weekly blogs I’ll write with suggestions.

The first idea is a little out of the ordinary, but very simple and research is showing can be very effective in reducing utility bills, and that is painting building roofs white. U.S. Energy Secretary and Nobel Prize Winner Steven Chu has been promoting the simple act of creating white roofs as beneficial to your company and the earth.

By changing the color of flat roofs to white, sunlight, composed of many different types of radiation will reflect back through the atmosphere, trapping less energy as heat in our atmosphere. It will also reduce the “heat island” effect, especially in urban areas where much black asphalt and concrete traps heat creating a localized rise in temperature. In some cases, a traditional black roof can increase the localized temperature by as much as 90F. A white roof largely eliminates this rise which for a large building of a manufacturing plant or college also reduces its demand for air conditioning, resulting in significant electricity and cost savings. This is particularly beneficial as the greatest electricity savings would occur in the summer when the peak usage rate is at its highest. As if this is not a great enough cost savings, eliminating large temperature rises at the roof also reduces its long-term maintenance costs. So the effort to paint the roof white is paid for directly by reductions in other roof maintenance.

Some would say this is unsightly. For some, maybe. But creating white roofs is a job for Maintenance that is clearly simple and cheap. You can put a logo on the roof to advertise one’s company or school. The roof does not have to be white; there are other “cool” roof colors that would reflect away much of the radiation. Such an effort may be less effective in extreme northern latitudes. But savings potential from this single act abound.

While you are changing your roof to “cooler” colors, some of the same effects can also be created by increased tree planting on the roof or on the street level, as greater shading reduces the heat island effect on roads and buildings, improving comfort. But certainly, with the summer coming, if your company is considering painting your roof space, consider painting them white or a light color, which will pay for itself in reduced electricity bills, particularly in the summertime. And if you can successfully spearhead such a project for at least one building, keep track of the reduction in kWh and electricity cost compared to previous years and compared to other buildings whose roofs have not been painted. See and marvel in this little change you made.

Stay tuned for more simple “green” actions you can do for your company!

Customer comments

No comments were found for One Simple “Green” Idea – Part 1. Be the first to comment!