Flying over the city of Los Angeles, you might notice an increasing number of light-colored roofs. That’s because in 2013, the city began requiring new homes to have reflective, or so-called “cool roofs.”


Fink: “Los Angeles became, as far as we can tell, the first city anywhere in the U.S. to require cool roofs on all new residential construction.”

That’s David Fink, of Climate Resolve – a local group that pushed for the building code update. He says that a cool roof costs about the same as a traditional roof, but it can make a building up to twelve degrees cooler inside.

That’s because traditional asphalt roofs and other dark city surfaces absorb the sun’s rays, heating the building and the outdoor air, and compounding the effects of climate change.

Fink says the cool roofs will help offset this effect – leading to fewer heat-related hospitalizations and less electricity use.

Fink: “The projections are in Los Angeles that yearly reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of lower energy usage would be the equivalent of forty metric tons of CO2 per year.”

Other California cities including Pasadena and Long Beach are watching the results closely and may replicate the new building code.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: Cool Roof Rating Council

More Resources
Cool roofs offer a salve for hot cities — and the climate, too
Looking Up: How Green Roofs and Cool Roofs Can Reduce Energy Use, Address Climate Change, and Protect Water Resources in Southern California

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...