Many people are asking if climate change is real. If it is, is it caused by humans? Is there a “greenhouse effect”? President George W. Bush said:
Let’s be clear. These charges are not based on facts. No amount of spin can obscure the reality that our government has lowered regulations, deregulated the marketplace, put in place a policy that has resulted in a big increase in carbon dioxide emissions…if there is global warming, it is very likely due to man-made activities, and the quickest and surest way to stop the damage is to reduce the carbon emissions.
But an analysis by the Associated Press found scientists generally hold divergent views on whether humans are to blame for the global warming. Meanwhile, as Republicans and Democrats are considering legislation to reduce emissions, economists have expressed some of the same doubts about the effectiveness of such efforts. It’s an issue worth considering in light of the debate about both “cool roofs” and CO2 emissions.
Cool roofs have gained some attention lately after a Princeton professor made headlines suggesting they could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not all experts agree with the professor, however. “All we have is conjecture,” said Anthony Watts, the founder of an emissions analysis website.
To illustrate the wide variety of opinions on whether “cool roofs” would prove effective, last month the United Nations Agency for International Development (UN-IDO) predicted significant global savings through a growing trend toward cool roofs that might help mitigate climate change. Based on an analysis of 17 large cities across five countries in Southeast Asia, UN-IDO estimated that up to $385 million in savings could be created through the replacement of large portions of hot, dark roofing with non-CO2-emitting materials and a reduction in utility bills. The study also made recommendations, including requiring infrastructure for energy efficiency, including monitoring systems and smart weather maps.
The small but growing idea of installing sun-reflecting roofs on buildings is generating more interest in the U.S. because the approach has major environmental, economic and construction benefits, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, a non-profit organization working to educate the public about solar energy and other alternatives to coal. It’s not just natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines on top of buildings that can be considered for a sustainable roof. There are numerous low-cost and sustainable building material options for non-CO2-emitting structures, even traditional metal roofs.
Even as talk of climate change has grown, gasoline prices have dropped and economic uncertainty has dampened construction demand. So researchers have turned their attention to other costs of building and renovation projects that have seemingly fallen off the radar in recent years: air conditioning and heating.
In Maine, a pilot program has been underway to connect commercial businesses with air conditioning units that allow small, solar-powered units to tap directly into a grid in the state. The goal is to test if the systems can be integrated into the electricity grid without any additional work or expense, saving companies money, polluting less and, some say, making the air cleaner too.
Another local program in New York City is pairing small, solar-powered photovoltaic panels with LED lights. If successful, the city could test whether this could be an inexpensive and ubiquitous mechanism for saving money and promoting energy conservation.
Most techies have a different perspective: making use of windows that capture sunlight is becoming increasingly popular, with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory citing projects in Colorado, Maine and North Carolina that use reflective windows to heat and cool.
Perhaps the most potential impact of this shift toward space-saving building technology is in greenhouses. When at full tilt, a greenhouse can be one of the world’s largest heat and power plants, producing more energy than the refrigeration unit in a car, if left in place overnight. These mega-hubs can also be a huge emissions-contributing machine.
Other green buildings include near-death experiences. Last year, three workers were sent to the hospital after a roof crashed into a greenhouse at an N.J. elementary school. Some in the building noted that the danger of temperature shift in the concrete-and-steel structures was one of the reasons it was purchased.
Source: Center for Sustainable Energy
From The Huffington Post
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