The Color Wheel Becomes Clean-tech

Color plays a major part in our lives – it influences our mood, style, and personality and brings value to our daily life. As a designer, I flip through color books hoping that someone might discover a new color. It won’t happen, but it’s fun to imagine.

Are white and black colors? This is highly debatable and depends on who you ask. A scientist might say, “Black is not a color as all colors are absorbed while white is a color as all colors are reflected.”

But is it possible that color could help global warming?

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that global warming could be slowed by a low-tech idea that has nothing to do with coal plants or solar panels: white roofs. Chu said that a white roof “changes the reflectivity . . . of the Earth, so the sunlight comes in, it’s reflected back into space.”

Dark roofs absorb and hold more than 80% of solar energy, while white ones can reflect 75% of it away. The reflected light then escapes through the polluted atmosphere. Therefore, a building will remain cooler and save on energy costs (of course, in a cold climate, having a darker roof can lower heating costs). Take a look at the beautiful island of Mykonos in Greece, where every building is white.

Research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California found that painting approximately 63% of the roofs white in 100 large, temperate climate cities would provide similar climate benefits to removing all the world’s cars from the road for 10 years.

There is much more to consider than the color of your roof when it comes to the issue of global warming. But, inspiration can come from anywhere. Maybe next year white will be the new green.

Amanda Jayachandran

About Amanda Jayachandran

Amanda creates unique strategies to help tell her clients’ stories. Her passion for design earned more than 35 design awards across branding and identity campaigns, direct marketing and demand generation, websites and event support. She consistently exceeds industry standard returns in interactive and print campaigns.

Learn more about Amanda

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