Saturday, February 2, 2008
The Other Global Warming: Urban Heating
A problem that I think a lot of people (outside of this class, of course) are not aware of is urban heating. Any solution to climate change is going to have to involve reducing urban heating. According to the EPA (here), urban heating raises temperatures 2 - 10 degrees Fahrenheit during summer months. This increases ground level ozone, electricity use to power air conditioners, air conditioner waste heat which further increases urban heating and helps to kill poor old people on hot days. Reducing urban heating is fairly simple, for example painting roofs with high solar reflectance materials (white roofs) to reflect more of the sun's energy and planting trees for shade and evapotransporation cooling. Certain types of pavement also can reduce heat absorption. Planting trees makes any urban area more agreeable and painting roofs is a very inexpensive and simple process. This is simple stuff that any city can implement at minimal cost and effort. Cool roofing coating often reduce roof surface temperatures up to 70 degrees. Every warehouse in Texas could probably save money with a cool roof. Hopefully cities and utilities will use these simple tools to help combat climate change.