Everybody knows the climate is changing. Cities around the U.S. are experiencing weather and weather phenomena’s that their neighbors to the west of south of them did 10 years ago. In Kansas City we know that to be true as we are seeing very mild winters and less rain in the forecast. Scientist at the University of California-San Diego have reviewed computer models that show “Urban Heat Island” effects around big cities that generate enough heat to alter the Jet Stream. This could explain the change in the weather patterns here in KC.

With 52% of the world’s population living in these urbanized areas it expected to double in population by 2050. Much of the heat source is from creating energy by burning fossil fuels in such large amounts within such a small area of land. Another alarming factor is the amount of concrete, asphalt, and dark roof tops within these cities. So what is a solution? The demand for energy as we become more technologically advanced and the increase in population is only going to rise in the years to come and without a clear path to alternative energy there needs to be another way.

NYC’s solution to curb greenhouse gas emissions is by converting dark energy absorbing roofs to cool roofs. What they are doing is applying white roof coatings to dark heat absorbing roof tops. In NYC the average dark rooftop according to a team led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a surface temperature of 170° F where a roof with a white coating averages 128° F. Since 2012 NYC has installed over 2.5 million sqft of Cool Roofs. They feel these buildings will see a return on their investment in about 3-4 years.

However, because the roofs are so reflective a research team at Arizona State University is warning that a city with a large amount of white roofs may affect hydroclimatology. In other words, it is thought that by installing a large amount of white roof coatings reflectivity from the coatings will reduce higher surface temperatures experienced with dark roof tops. The adverse affect could be modifying the hydroclimatic process potentially leading to a significant reduction in annual rainfall in urban areas.

With all this brought to light, ICC Foam & Coatings feels the best solution would be to install Sprayed Polyurethane Foam Roofs. Although roof coatings are still an important part to a spray foam roof system the color of the roof coating can be grey or tan vs. the bright white that some fear will cause adverse effects to the climate. The benefit of the spray foam roof is the value of its insulating properties and the ability to stop convection heating in its tracks. It is proven that no other roof maintains a building’s temperature as well as a Spray Foam Roof.  No doubt there is room for thought on this subject.

Eric Schlossenberg  HCRI-C