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Earth News Politics

Bill Clinton Says 'Paint Your Roofs White' 722

Hugh Pickens writes "Former President Bill Clinton thinks 'every black roof in New York should be white; every roof in Chicago should be white; every roof in Little Rock should be white. Every flat tar-surface roof anywhere! In most of these places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week.' Noting that Mayor Bloomberg started a program to hire and train young people to paint New York's roofs white, Clinton says a big percentage of the kids have been able to parlay this simple work into higher-skilled training programs or energy-related retrofit jobs. The benefit: not only will 'cool roofs' lower the utility bill in every apartment house 10 to 20 percent, but it frees cash that can be spent to increase economic growth. Clinton presented this with fourteen additional ideas for growing the economy, saving energy, and attacking the jobs crisis."
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Bill Clinton Says 'Paint Your Roofs White'

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  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:40PM (#36803596) Homepage Journal

    Look. Just because somebody thought of something you haven't doesn't make them dumb. People have been talking about this for years, and *yes* they've taken into account the fact that you'd like to get solar heating from your roof in the winter.

    You don't get much solar heating in the winter at the latitude of New York because the days are short and the sunlight oblique. New York is at roughly 40 degrees of latitude, and midwinter the sun rises to less than 30 degrees of elevation off the horizon.

    The argument might make sense for La Paz, Bolivia, but not New York.

  • by robot256 ( 1635039 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:41PM (#36803632)
    The difference is even greater because in the winter, there is less sunlight to do the heating. The savings during the summer win hands down. If the power goes out, the color of the roof is not going to make an appreciable difference--unless maybe you sleep in the attic. Never heard of anybody doing that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:42PM (#36803660)

    Anyone else have any requests for shit for me to do while I'm in 2000?

    Yeah, make home owners associations illegal.

    They were supposed to be for paying for common areas (tennis courts, pools, etc...) and to keep Mr. Trash from putting his car on blocks in his front yard and his pack of dogs in the back. Now, they've turned into fascist organizations that will have their lawyer fine you and charge you thousands of dollars because you used the wrong color of beige on your front door.

    Why Home Owner's Associations bring down property values:

    1. if you live near folks who do those kinds of things, an HMA isn't gonna do you much good AND if you do need an HMA then you have trash living there.
    2. Some of them have resale fees buried in the covenants and sometimes hidden by the real estate developer - bunch of fucking crooks in on it with the bankers.

    Now, I'm going to make some sweet and sour sauce with this bitterness.

  • simplicity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:45PM (#36803714)

    1)Ridge vents can only be installed on pitched roofs. Many large buildings do not have pitched roofs.
    2)Painting a roof white requires no permits, construction, tools (save paintbrushes and maybe brushes/cleaning solutions), specialized skills, etc.
    3)Titanium Dioxide, used to make many white paints white, is a photo-catalyst, which means it can self-clean and chew up pollutants in the air.
    4)A ridge roof vent that is controllable requires control systems and whatnot. White paint simply works.

    #2 is particularly important for people with few vocational skills...and landlords who, especially in NYC, are really, really cheap assholes who view tenants as human ATMs, and who won't do anything unless there's a quick, proven payback.

    Clinton's point is that white paint is cheap, easy, simple, reliable, has virtually no operational expenditure, and a quick payback. Installing ridge vents shares almost nothing in common with his solution.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:59PM (#36803920) Homepage

    Actually, considering how expensive it is to re-roof a house, if you reroof with solar panels instead of shingles, it's not all that much more expensive.

  • Re:Great. Just Great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pz ( 113803 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @05:03PM (#36803970) Journal

    We live on the top floor of a small apartment building that has a flat roof, and with the landlord's permission, I painted it with aluminized roof coating at the end of last summer. I can now definitely state that our interior temperatures are about 10 F cooler than last summer (hey, we're geeks, we measured it). We still go above ambient, but only about 5 F instead of 15 F. It went from intolerable (there is no A/C) to not-so-bad, and the rest of the building shares the benefit, although much less than we do.

    I can't speak to how much more energy we're using during the winter because we don't see those figures and didn't think of a way to measure it (like duty cycle of the heater on our floor) in time.

  • by MatthiasF ( 1853064 ) on Monday July 18, 2011 @07:36PM (#36805688)

    I think you don't know what you're talking about much less being confused. Emissivity defines reflectivity, as in an objects emissivity rate is it's effective reflection rate for a particular wavelength at a particular temperature, etc. etc.

    Also, the solar spectrum is not most intense at the visible part. To quote Wikipedia, who has a source.

    "Sunlight at zenith provides an irradiance of just over 1 kilowatt per square meter at sea level. Of this energy, 527 watts is infrared radiation, 445 watts is visible light, and 32 watts is ultraviolet radiation.[2]" []

    The numbers Mr. Sokol is repeating are for micrometers, per the site he references. Note the name of the site. Only one page of the measurements has the micro symbol, probably because the author didn't save the first two pages properly from Excel or what not.

    And his point stands. Painting a visible white is only taking care of a small portion of the heat creating wavelengths.

    Furthermore, and conveniently ignored, is the fact that above a certain latitude more energy is expended heating in the winter than cooling in the summer. New York City and Chicago are above that latitude, which is around 38-42 degrees on the East Coast depending on the year's average solar irradiance but varies widely across the country (because of airflow and humidity). []

    Or the fact that air conditioning was never a major concern for energy conservation, since the vast majority of energy used in buildings are to heat it, not cool it. []

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