This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
If you're planning to build a new house in Los Angeles, it's guaranteed to have a "cool roof." No, that doesn't mean it will be designed by a starchitect, but it will help improve the local climate.
That's because earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted [pfd] to update the municipal building code to require all new and refurbished homes to have "cool roofs," or roofs using materials that reflect sunlight rather than absorb it. In making the change, Los Angeles became the first major city to require "cool roofs" on new homes.
The reason behind the change is that, in cities where buildings are clustered together, roofs absorb sunlight, leading to the urban heat island effect and higher temperatures concentrated in urban areas. Researchers expect temperatures in Los Angeles to rise 3.7-5.4 degrees Fahrenheit by midcentury.
In a warm climate like Los Angeles the impact of cool roofs can be huge, reducing the temperature on a roof by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot summer day, according to Climate Resolve, the group that pushed for the change. That not only has a positive impact on the surrounding environment, but also keeps building interiors cooler, reduces demand for air-conditioning, and leads to savings on cooling bills. One study found that green and cool roofs could save consumers in the area $211 million a year on their energy bills.
[h/t The Atlantic Cities]