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Earth News Politics

Bill Clinton Says 'Paint Your Roofs White' 722

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-get-right-on-that dept.
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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  • Much less *asphalt* shingles?!?!?

    • after that mayb a nw kabird.

    • by dlingman (1757250) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:23PM (#36803302)
      Pigeons. Lots of Pigeons. Just sprinkle roof with bread crumbs, and get out of the way.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't. He's talking about flat roofs.

    • by boaworm (180781)

      You wash it very thoroughly with soap...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Asphalt shingles come in any color you like.

      I'd rather have black asphalt shingles and a soffit/ridge venting system that I can control, so I vent the heat in the summer or trap it in the winter.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#36803470)

        Okay, I'll go back in time and have them build my house with those. I'll also make a plea to the homeowners association to allow this while I'm there and maybe stop 9-11 from happening. Anyone else have any requests for shit for me to do while I'm in 2000?

        • by Altus (1034) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:36PM (#36803542) Homepage

          I hate to break this to you, but if you do own your house, you will end up putting a new roof on it sooner or later. My guess, given your tone, is that it will be sooner than you think it will.

          Now would be a good time to bring this up with your home owners association so you can make the best choice when that time finally comes.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:42PM (#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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            I bought into a non-HOA neighborhood. Now the builder who owns the empty lot next to mine is building a new house... sideways. There wasn't enough room to build the big hideous McMansion facing the street like everyone else, so he's putting it on the lot sideways. He just flushed the value of my house down the toilet.

            So there are good reasons for HOAs.
            • Plant a god damn row of quick growing trees almost on the property line and quit your bitching. Don't use fruitless mulberrys, they suck.

              It might also be a good time to put a car up on blocks in your front yard, just before he's ready to sell the house. You can borrow one of mine if you're in N. Cal.

              I bet that anything built on that lot will actually improve your homes value.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jhoegl (638955)
        Well, that raises a very good question.
        What will white roofs do in the winter? Make the building colder?
        I think it costs more to cool down than to heat up, but what happens if power goes out and there is no chimney?
        Is the cost savings there after taking this into consideration or not?
        • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:40PM (#36803612)

          What will white roofs do in the winter? Make the building colder?

          A roof is white in winter because of the snow.

          Said another way, we already have white roofs in cold climates in the winter because the snow makes the shingle color irrelevant.

        • by robot256 (1635039) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:41PM (#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 Solandri (704621) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:19PM (#36804184)

          What will white roofs do in the winter? Make the building colder?

          I suspect they would actually make the building warmer. It's a common misconception that black absorbs heat while white reflects it. Well, that in itself isn't the misconception, the misconception is that people think of the heat transfer happening only one way. Black is more conducive to heat transfer [wikipedia.org] than white. That means if you have a black roof in winter (assume no snow), and the inside of the house is warmer than the outside, the black roof will radiate the interior heat to the sky faster than would a white roof. Think of white paint as a heat insulator, and black paint as a heat conductor.

          True, during daylight the radiation from sunlight into the roof may exceed the radiation from inside the house to outside. But days are short in Winter, and I suspect the heat loss during the night far exceeds the gain during the day.

      • by eth1 (94901)

        Asphalt shingles come in any color you like.

        I'd rather have black asphalt shingles and a soffit/ridge venting system that I can control, so I vent the heat in the summer or trap it in the winter.

        I'd rather have solar panels (or something else to capture the heat energy) completely covering the roof with an air gap underneath.

        Keeps the solar energy off the roof, and lets me do something useful with it. (I live where we spend much more energy trying to cool houses than to heat them)

        • Of course that's even better, but ist isn't cheap enough that everyone can afford it. And that's what makes this so compelling: It's so cheap that you have an astronomic ROI. (if you have A/C. And have warm summers to start with)

      • simplicity (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:45PM (#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 hey! (33014)

          I installed a ridgeline vent on one of my office over the garage -- totally passive, but highly effective. It wasn't too bad to install either. You just take your circular saw and cut along the roofline on either side of the peak, then nail down the ridge vent over the long crack you've just exposed. You need to put soffit vents in too otherwise the ridge vent won't work, but that's easy. The natural tendency of heated air to rise means you don't need any control systems. So a ridgeline vent is a no-br

    • by hey! (33014) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:28PM (#36803410) Homepage Journal

      There's a product for this. It's designed to go over asphalt shingle and they call it ... wait for it ... "roof coating". Here's a link to the manufacturers' trade group: http://www.roofcoatings.org/wcc.html [roofcoatings.org].

      How long before we here the politicians whining that Clinton's trying to outlaw roof shingles or make everyone replace their roof.

      • by vlm (69642)

        There's a product for this. It's designed to go over asphalt shingle and they call it ... wait for it ... "roof coating". Here's a link to the manufacturers' trade group: http://www.roofcoatings.org/wcc.html [roofcoatings.org].

        How long before we here the politicians whining that Clinton's trying to outlaw roof shingles or make everyone replace their roof.

        It costs about $10 to $15 per gallon, and covers about 100 sq feet.. So its going to cost me about a months electric bill to paint it on. At a 10% savings it'll pay for itself, at about 3 months of summer per year, in about 4 years. That skips a whole lot of accounting "net present value of the money vs the loan interest rate vs a typical rate of return of my favorite PRPFX mutual fund". Also skips the cost of labor and the environmental cost of making the goop itself. The problem is the stuff HD sells

        • by brusk (135896)

          It costs about $10 to $15 per gallon, and covers about 100 sq feet.. So its going to cost me about a months electric bill to paint it on. At a 10% savings it'll pay for itself, at about 3 months of summer per year, in about 4 years. That skips a whole lot of accounting "net present value of the money vs the loan interest rate vs a typical rate of return of my favorite PRPFX mutual fund". Also skips the cost of labor and the environmental cost of making the goop itself.

          If you're going to be that precise about it, you should also count the full cost of not painting the roof, which is not just a lower energy bill but also less wear and tear on the cooling system (which is therefore likely to last longer). There's also the environmental cost of producing the energy that does the cooling. Moreover, in NYC in particularly many of the affect buildings would be apartment buildings, which have a much better ratio of residents-to-roof-surface than single-family homes (and even si

    • by couchslug (175151) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:34PM (#36803514)

      I'd use white roof coating, rolled on some test shingles nailed to a sheet of plywood before trying any specific coating on a home. It may take a couple of coats to cover. I would also consider a light gray coating if available.

      http://www.roofcoatings.org/wcc.html [roofcoatings.org]

      The temp reduction is no joke. I coated the tops of my ISO container shop buildings and my metal house roof white. The ISOs are sealed, no windows (stormproof and keeps my gear dry) and get rather warm. White tops make them reasonable workspaces.

      I didn't add the glass microspheres one can buy to mix with paints and roof coatings, but I'll do that next time. (BTW I fucking HATE asphalt shingles. If I won the lottery I'd use steel trusses and modern standing seam roofing.)

  • ...Bill Clinton is invested in Behr.
    • Oh yes, because this will cause an uptick in paint prices, for sure. Conventionally, houses are painted in their entirety every 10 years. In the united states there are approximately 100 million houses. Every month about 1 million whole houses are painted. If the entirety of Manhattan painted their roofs in a month, that would be less than a percent of that number. Moreover, there are a large number of paint brands, making individual company speculation a challange.

      I have no problem wiht cynicism, it'

      • Re:In other words... (Score:4, Informative)

        by vlm (69642) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:47PM (#36803750)

        The way to do it is not to assume it'll be in the news for one day, maybe for a month people will do it, and then back to American Idle.

        The way to do it is to create a federal, state, and local bureaucracy of roof painting enforcement, to require city building permits (with inspections) for all exterior painting. This I suppose requires govt oversight at all levels to license painters, and of course trainers of painters, and trainers of trainers of painters. Create a couple federal jobs programs to funnel money from the govt to campaign contributors while almost accidentally having a couple disadvantaged youth paint a roof or two as a side effect. Remove federal highway funding from any state that does not force its cities building codes to be modified. Then too we need a national census with hired workers to verify roof painting status. And a federal dept to collect all utility records from all americans to analyze for the white roof savings, and to do paramilitary operations on grow ops. People that want "normal" shingles or historical shingles will have to sneak them across the Canadian border, just like people that want real toilets do now. That is a realistic conspiracy theory.

  • by StillStanding (1122577) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:25PM (#36803334)
    I've had white shingles for 8 years now -- chosen for this very reason. I turn on the A/C about 1/3 of the time my neighbors do (with black shingles). Saved me a lotta money :-) It's worth it long term on an individual basis and an environmental basis. When you can get both to coincide then it must be right!
    • Three things.

      One, the advantage of "painting your roof white" may depend on where you live. Even with this sweltering heat wave, those of us living far north of the Mason Dixon line spend far less on A/C than we do on heat. The reflective coating may not be best in every situation.

      Secondly, it is not simply a matter of painting something white. An optimal coating has to have a high emissivity as well as high reflectivity. For example, a tin (galvanized metal) roof can get very hot because it is refl

    • by NeoSkink (737843) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:04PM (#36803980)
      And Chu got it from Rosefeld, who was saying it back when Chu ran LBL. From the linked WSJ piece: “There’s a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, Art Rosenfeld, who’s pushing very hard for a geo-engineering we all believe will be completely benign, and that’s when you have a flat-top roof building, make it white. “Now, you smile, but he’s done a calculation, and if you take all the buildings and make their roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of colour rather than a black type of colour, and you do this uniformly . . . it’s the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars on the road for 11 years.”
  • I could probably put a white tarp over it in Summer and pull it off int he Winter, it might even stop the moss growing on the shingles.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Possibly if the tarp is completely opaque, otherwise the filtered light and trapped moister will probably make the moss worse.

  • by surmak (1238244) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#36803466)
    I see a black root and I want it painted white.
    That way it's cooler and will reflect much more light.

    I get the A/C bill and it is through the sky.
    The cash I'm wasting there it makes me want to cry.

    (add more lyrics)

    • I see a line of cars and they're all painted white
      Not so hot in the sun and clearly seen at night
      I see people shake their heads, call it monotonous
      It's more ecological, but not good as the bus
  • I always thought; "Why aren't roofs white" for this very reason.

    "Certainly, SOMEBODY would have pushed to have light roofs and roads if it had a benefit." Turns out, that in human society, "somebody" is trampled under the hoofs of the stampede of EVERYBODY KNOWS....

  • you would paint the holiday home black, if you had paint, if not then only the roof. and you would have built the house with short bits of leftover planks (they were built in tight villages, smart, in russia).

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:28PM (#36804300)

    Pollen, dirt, tree sap. Great idea, but after 5 years, how reflective "white" will a white roof be anymore?

  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:13PM (#36805412) Journal

    I've got only one question:

    What are the colors of the roofs on Clinton's various properties?

  • by littlewink (996298) on Monday July 18, 2011 @11:05PM (#36807686)

    I've priced this out for our condominium association and found that painting the roof white costs several thousand dollars per (rather small) unit - not worthwhile for the association certainly. That would pay the gas and electric bill for more than a year in most cases.

    And the reflectance drops 75% in 3 years, so you'll soon be doing it again.

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