Everyone loves a garden, and when the vegetation is planted on a roof, it gets even more love. Not only do plants lend a park-like atmosphere to the tops of buildings, they are also good for the environment. Look at all these plant-covered roofs in New York City. Even buses are getting in on the trend.
Turns out, though, that a plain white roof is way better for the environment. A new study in Energy and Buildings points out that while green roofs are better than roofs painted black–which absorb sunlight and contribute to the urban heat island effect–white roofs can actually combat global warming by reflecting more sunlight back into the atmosphere. Based on an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of the three types of roofs, the researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that white roofs are three times more effective at fighting climate change.
That’s not to say you should go and dig up the sedum and trees on your roof. Vegetation helps with storm water management, and studies have shown that being near greenery can make us happy. But if you’re really looking to save the environment, consider a fresh coat of white paint.