On Tuesday the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a building code update that will require all new and refurbished homes to have cool roofs, which use sunlight-reflecting materials. Los Angeles is the first major city to require such a measure, which was pushed for by the local organization Climate Resolve. Climate Resolve works throughout Southern California to prepare the region for the impacts of climate change.
UCLA research has suggested that temperatures in the area will increase between 3.7°F and 5.4°F by 2050. Southern California also already relies on outside sources of water to meet demand. With the state experiencing one of the driest years on record, climate change will make many different kinds of conservation measures far more critical.
According to the Climate Resolve press release, cool roofs, “can be more than 50°F cooler on the surface of the roof during a hot summer day and can cool the interiors of buildings by several degrees Fahrenheit, reducing chances of heat-related injuries or deaths.”
“Cool roofs are a win-win-win for the people of Los Angeles,” said Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve. “Keeping temperatures down on Extreme Heat Days will protect lives; energy efficiency will save millions of dollars; and cool roofs will help Los Angeles combat global climate change at the local level.”
According to the Global Cool Cities Alliance, reflective roof surfaces do not need to be white, but can come in shades of grey and even red. These surfaces reflect more sunlight than traditional dark-colored roofs, thus turning less of the sun’s energy into heat and minimizing the urban heat island effect in which urban areas are far hotter than surrounding rural regions.