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The Good Doctor

Published on Written by , Rick Fedrizzi Posted in Industry
Photo credit: Walmart Corporate via Flickr

Over lunch, the U.S. Green Building Council honored with our 2012 President’s Award, one of the most remarkable men you’d ever want to meet, Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld, award-winning physicist and former Commissioner of the California.

These days, Art – who is in his mid-eighties yet who still has more energy than I have on my best days, who studied under the legendary Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago, and who is the most-honored expert on (and proponent of) energy efficiency in the world today – operates with one professional mantra in mind; If a roof is flat, it shall be white.

The reason? Consider:

  • Flat white roofs reduce urban heat and, by extension, delay climate change significantly.
  • One 1,000 sq. ft. white roof instead of one black one will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment by 10 tons over the course of that roof.
  • If all flat black roofs in the world today were replaced by white ones the impact would be the same as taking half the cars in the world off the road for the next 20 years or shutting down 500 medium sized coal-fired power plants, or 1,000 gas-fired ones.
  • And for practical purposes, and using the 2003 European heat wave as an example, white roofs would have reduced the average daily heat so significantly in all the major cities in Europe that of the 52,000 people that died that year from the heat, thousands would still be alive today.

That’s why the State of California, the greenest government on the planet, is one of the leaders in the white roof movement, and why this is a concept you’re going to be hearing more, rather than less of, in the months and years ahead.

If you’re half as intrigued as I am, and would like more information on the power of the white roof, go to or

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    Rick Fedrizzi made 10 contributions in the last 6 months

Rick Fedrizzi

CEO & Founding Chairman U.S. Green Building Council
USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
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2 commentsLeave a comment

President, Irvin Metal Roofing
Nice read Rick, I have to say Cool white roofs are becoming popular not just on the west coast, but they are also steadily making inroads into residential and commercial roofing projects and energy efficient retrofits on the east coast and all over the US. Many systems are now rated by the Cool Roof rating council and tell you what the solar reflectance of a particular roofing system will be compared to a typical, dark EPDM rubber roof. For flat roofs, I would also recommend a system that has hot air welded seams such as PVC roofing systems as they are virtually impenetrable to standing/ponding water and ice, and will not disintegrate like glue connecting the seams on typical rubber roofs.
President, Irvin Metal Roofing
Cool flat roofs all the way. Make sure they are CoolRoof rated, though. Also, make sure to choose PVC over TPO to get a longer lasting roofing system. More Info:

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