Just Released! Order “Waking Up to Climate Change” by George Ropes, and receive 25% Discount. Learn More

Close this search box.
Close this search box.

HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

White Roofs, Green Buildings & LED lighting

When climate change gets mentioned, the main factors that are discussed about its cause and mitigation are mainly cars and changing to all electric transportation, nonrenewable resources, and the switch to renewable and materials for recycling waste. Buildings are machines when you take into consideration what they contain and how they’re built, it’s not surprising to learn they emit 40% of all greenhouse gases. Other than the mechanical equipment that uses energy so does the construction and the materials that make up the building which are taken into consideration to meet sustainability in the form of providing something that won’t cause any problems in the future. Renewable sources for construction are mass timber or engineered wood frame construction instead of concrete, which is a contributor to CO2 and the manufacturing process results in extensive pollution. Material finished indoors contributes to the air quality that gets changed into the building and what goes out into the atmosphere. New mechanical systems that save energy like HVAC systems for air control and use of windows for sunlight save the energy that the building takes up with the added source of energy is uses is also a positive.

Water usage is another factor which is beneficial in green buildings that send wastewater to treatment plants instead of the sewage that brings waste to the rivers. Overall, the factors of alternative green buildings contribute much less greenhouse gases especially recycling  air and water.

Many roofs on older buildings were coated with asphalt and are more prone to absorbing heat and radiation. This factor contributed to an “urban heat island effect” where the city has more heat than the surrounding countryside of rural biodiversity. This was the contribution of the dark colored asphalt roofs and roads that were used in the 19th and 20th centuries. White roofs are proven to lower the average temperature in urban areas as the lighter the surface the higher the reflectivity of radiation with small amounts of heat setting through the roof membrane. Also given the name cool roofs due to the ability to reflect heat and absorb less. Fred Pierce from Yale.edu says, “…even if every city building roof and stretch of urban pavement in the world were painted white, it would only delay global warming by 11 years. But its potential value in ameliorating the most severe consequences of excess heat in cities could be life-saving.”  The additional expansion of urbanization and new buildings that get built have influence in the roof type for delaying climate change. Even roads in major cities are being considered to get painted in white or light gray colors to prevent the heat setting into the dark asphalt, as seen in Los Angeles.

Lighting is always a factor of building design and every building needs it for the nightlight. These also contribute to approximately 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions due to the kerosine powered and incandescent lighting systems that use a lot of energy as well as fluorescent lighting which is more efficient. LED lighting or light emitting diodes are more efficient than any of the mentioned lighting types as they use less energy for creating light instead and by that creating less heat which decreases the temperature of indoors and the need for air conditioning. Theclimategroup.org says, “Compared to the old technologies. A global switch to energy efficient LED technology could save over 1,400 million tons of CO2 and avoid the construction of 1250 power stations.” LED lighting can also be powered by solar panels to use electrical energy.



“How Green Buildings Can Help Fight Climate Change.” U.S. Green Building Council, https://www.usgbc.org/articles/how-green-buildings-can-help-fight-climate-change#.

Fred Pearce • March 7, et al. “Urban Heat: Can White Roofs Help Cool World’s Warming Cities?” Yale E360, https://e360.yale.edu/features/urban-heat-can-white-roofs-help-cool-the-worlds-warming-cities#:~:text=Oleson%20found%20that%20even%20if,cities%20could%20be%20life%2Dsaving.

Droguett, Research Fellows: Barbara Rodriguez. “LED Lighting @Projectdrawdown #Climatesolutions.” Project Drawdown, 17 Feb. 2023, https://drawdown.org/solutions/led-lighting.

“Led.” Climate Group, https://www.theclimategroup.org/led.

Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

2 Responses

  1. I appreciate you sharing your essay about LED lights, green buildings, and white roofs. Your essay offers insightful information about how these actions affect reducing climate change and boosting sustainability. The emphasis you placed on the role buildings plays into greenhouse gas emissions and the significance of using alternative methods and technology. The conversation over white rooftops is enlightening. An important issue is the urban heat island effect brought on by dark-colored asphalt roads and roofs. Cities can experience lower temperatures and lessen the negative consequences of excessive heat by using white roofs that reflect radiation and absorb less heat. Even if it might not be able to stop global warming on its own, there may be significant advantages in terms of lessening the intensity of the heat in cities. Mechanical systems that are installed in green buildings, in addition to environmentally friendly materials, are essential to energy efficiency. Utilizing windows for natural light and HVAC systems that regulate temperature and air assist save energy and lower total usage. By improving a building’s energy efficiency, these systems help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to conventional lighting systems, LED lights are significantly more energy-efficient and produce less heat. Buildings can use less energy and, as a result, leave a smaller carbon imprint by adopting LED lighting. To attain a greener and more sustainable future, it is essential to keep promoting these methods and technological advancements. We can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the effects of climate change by implementing sustainable building methods, using renewable materials, and establishing energy-efficient lighting alternatives.

  2. The paper gives an in-depth and informative review of the important role that buildings play in climate change and the different actions that may be done to reduce their environmental effect. It successfully identifies the primary contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in buildings and explores effective solutions.

    One of the primary issues mentioned is that buildings account for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. This statistic emphasizes the critical importance of applying sustainable building techniques. The paper correctly underlines that construction materials and methods, as well as operating energy consumption within buildings, contribute to these emissions. The essay highlights an important step toward lowering emissions in the building sector by pushing for the use of renewable sources such as mass lumber or engineered wood frames instead of polluting materials such as concrete.

    The examination of mechanical systems and energy-efficient construction strategies is also worth mentioning. Energy consumption may be considerably lowered by using advanced HVAC systems and using daylight through windows. This not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also enhances building energy efficiency and sustainability.

    The importance of cool roofs and their capacity to reduce urban temperatures is critical in dealing with the urban heat island effect. Buildings can contribute to regulating local temperature rises by using lighter-colored roofs that reflect radiation and absorb less heat, so enhancing the comfort and well-being of those who live in cities.

    Overall, the article successfully covers a variety of critical elements and solutions concerning buildings and their impact on climate change. It encourages readers to think about the environmental consequences of construction and make educated decisions to minimize greenhouse gas emissions in this sector by emphasizing the need of sustainable building methods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


More Posts Like This


Adapting to Heat Waves in the Era of Climate Change

Climate change is ushering in a new era characterized by increasingly frequent and intense heat waves, presenting profound challenges to ecosystems, communities, and individuals around the world. I will talk about the changing nature of heat waves in the context of climate change, multifaceted impacts, and the adaptive


Global Pandemics & Climate Change

In the year 2020, the world went through a massive event that forced us all to go into lockdown and change the way we lived for the entirety of that year. COVID-19 had impacted us in numerous and heavy ways, as the day-to-day life we once experienced was


Do Global Pandemics & Global Climate Change Affect Each Other? How?

Do global pandemics and global climate change affect each other? This is an interesting topic to analyze since we recently experienced the Covid-19 pandemic. It is two questions in one. First, I will speculate and theorize on how a pandemic can affect global warming and how global warming