Green roofs come in many colors

The discussions on greenification and energy independence tend to focus on the high-tech solutions of the future. Alternative fuels and battery technology grab headlines and make us cling onto the hope for the Jetsons’ vision of tomorrow.

But President Obama's famous call for Americans to keep their tires inflated and cars maintained was one of the first major pushes for a quick, simple step in tackling the energy crisis.

Sure, we’ve been told for years to fix those leaky faucets and properly maintain any number appliances for maximum efficiency, but this was the first major headline I’d seen promoting the idea that small actions taken by many can have a large impact, and the McCain camp’s reaction helped keep it up there for a couple news cycles too.

Then Secretary of Energy Steven Chu went on the Daily Show and mentioned how great of an impact white roofs and light-colored pavement would have on global warming. Studies by three California energy experts estimate that implementing this strategy in warm areas would offset the CO2 emissions of the world’s 600 million cars for 18 to 20 years.

While the above Miller-McCune article asks if white is the new green, the National Aquarium in Baltimore literally has a green roof. The Green Roofs for Healthy Cities movement ( argues that these living roofs can reduce maintenance and insulation costs in addition to providing an aesthetically pleasing new ‘do to your building.

This got me wondering what other roofs we could employ in our battle with the energy crisis.

Bird Seed Roof

Coat your roof with bird seed and suet. It will lure birds away from your garden and as they eat away at your roof coating, they will replace it with a reflective white one. Convince your homeowners association that your roof is an homage to Jackson Pollock when you are inevitably accused of not maintaining your home.

Satellite Dish Roof

Switch from that low-profile cable system and cover your roof with the biggest satellite dishes you can find. They’ll provide all the shade and entertainment you can handle.

Garbage Roof

But not just any old garbage. Nail flattened cans in place of shingles. Their super refective properties will have you screaming, “Aluminum is the new white!” An added bonus is that particular element’s ability to block alien signals.

You may look strange when you try to implement these radical roofs, but remember, that’s what they said about Copernicus in his day.

-- Kai-Huei Yau is a Herald staff photographer and blames Kermit the Frog for climate change. You can read his weekly photo blog every Friday at