Seattle Light Rail

Today’s New York Times has an article on the white roof movement, pushed thoroughly by Secretary of Energy Chu.  I first read about white roofs on the Infrastructurist (a great blog for all things infrastructure and on my blogroll).  The basic premise was explained on their website thus:

By reflecting back huge quantities of sunlight that is now absorbed by dark surfaces, whitening our roofs and roads could offset 44 billion tons of carbon emission, calculates Arthur Rosenfeld of the California Energy Commission and two colleagues. It may be one of the cheapest and most effective ways humanity can seriously address global warming in the near term.

Whitening our roofs and roads would also cut demand for air conditioning by as much as 15 percent on the hottest days of summer, which would also have the benefit of making our electrical grid more stable.

My question is what would happen if we similarly painted all of our public (and private) transportation vehicles white or other light colors.  The new Seattle light rail system (Sound Transit, see picture above) has the right idea with its fleet of white vehicles.  Given how much space is covered with our vehicles I would have to imagine we would save a ton of energy by having white roofs on our cars, buses, trucks and trains, or other similar light colors.  Perhaps we can just have the roofs of our vehicles white so that we still provide for colorful dynamics on the roads, which should also be whitened.

Some infrastructure greening projects are difficult.  Getting zoning regulations to require white roofs is easy.  Perhaps having public transportation agencies paint their vehicles white or their roofs white could be similarly easy.

Advertisements