A white bylaw

We wonder if this idea will be considered discriminatory. It’s so white!

All new roofs would be white under a Montreal borough’s proposed bylaw aimed at taking advantage of a white roof’s cooling effects. …Councillors in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie will vote on the proposal in October.[CBC]

A Concordia professor agrees and goes even further. Why stop at Montreal, why not the world? Cost is mentioned [it often isn’t even considered] but dismissed as worth it in the long run.
It’s the kind of idea that will appeal to our Town Council don’t you think?  We’d go for it as long as the Town paid for our new white roof. And why stop at roofs?

10 responses to “A white bylaw

  1. Perhaps what one really requires is a roof that has a low albedo in summer and a high albedo in winter. Prevailing practices in Nova Scotia achieve the exact opposite. The problem is, as always, the availability of cost-effective technologies. People will always adopt a better technology if it makes economic sense… they don’t need to be pushed around by Professors and Councillors.

    In lieu of the technology, a few nice big deciduous shade trees works pretty well. The real problem is all those idiot politicians and town planners who want to cram people into high density housing and isolate them from natures benefits.

  2. Why is it that in all the hot countries I have been in they have RED tile roofs? Ya this sounds like something Wolfville would latch onto.

    • Red ceramic tiles are favoured for aesthetic reasons in some places I have lived (NZ, Oz). Perhaps people would rip their roof off if they paused to consider the political implications of that colour? (Our roof is blue.)

      Thermodynamics of housing are not so simple as the minds of most Councilors. Here is a relevant article:
      but I expect we can all see that this is only a small part of the total picture.

      • It is perhaps the clay tile material and not the colour that proved cooler in those climes. The proposed bylaw as reported mentioned nothing about material to be used and this, we would think, would be a factor to include. But in any case, this is not something that should be handled by bylaw or government legislation but rather through informed choices by consumers who wish cooler (or warmer) houses at reasonable cost. If they wish to sacrifice economy for aesthetics so be it. People have all kinds of choices for their discretionary income ( if that hasn’t been taxed away of course.)

  3. I’ve heard of by-laws requiring green roofs in certain city’s. The idea being a roof made of soil and vegetation has similar heating and cooling benefits as well as storm water reduction etc. I don’t think it’s unusual for a community to require certain buildings to be built a certain way.

    Brian, planners often support higher densities because of it’s bigger advantages. For example compact communities will leave more of nature untouched by development. This pattern provides quality habitat for all the other critters in our world. Low density development eats up habitat/farm land and requires way more energy for transportation and other services like sewer and water lines, snow plowing, road maintenance, power lines etc.

    Having shared walls like in a multi-unit building or a row house can often be more heat efficient than detached homes. Higher density options can also have deciduous trees planted around them to get the benefits you mention.

    Density doesn’t always mean ugly lifeless blocks – this common perception is what scares people. However well designed density can look nice, feel good, build community and offer greater efficiency.

    • Density is just planner code for diminished lifestyle. I’ve shared walls (+ floor and ceiling) in the past. Never again.

      My rule of thumb, if it ain’t fit for my dog, it ain’t fit for me.

      I’m happy for planners to plan for planners and leave the rest of us to plan for ourselves.

  4. My dog, spouse and I are happy in our dense condo. It’s very livable and provides what we consider to be a higher quality of life than a detached R1 home. We’re able to quickly walk downtown, we have walking paths very close, parks just around the corner and we are not too reliant on the car as a result of the central location. At the end of the day we come home to a community of neighbors who all know each other and function together. Does that sound like a “diminished lifestyle” or a fulfilling lifestyle?

    I’m happy with planners encouraging higher densities – it makes a lot of sense. Especially for tax payers! Higher density neighborhoods require less infrastructure to build and maintain.

    For those who choose R1 living, I hope they enjoy it. I personally feel like it’s more valuable to be part of a neighborhood where I feel a sense of community. I find that’s easier to get in higher density design.

    • What stage of life are you? Are there others in town who may find this not to their liking? Or their ability to walk? Or do they matter?

    • The assumption that high density is more efficient than low density depends entirely upon which assumptions you use for your calculation. Planners have an agenda — as we saw with the sneaky move made against R1 residents a couple of years ago. As a ratepayer, I object to paying people who work against the property interests in which I have legitimately invested.

  5. Does it matter what stage I’m at? Is there a stage in life where you wouldn’t want to be near town amenities and know your neighbors?

    Certainly, our condo development isn’t for everyone. Though it’s evidence that density can work well. My point is that well designed density, that works for people’s needs, can give residents a higher quality of life. I don’t think planners are wrong in supporting higher densities – it’s more efficient town planning, which is sort of their job. I don’t think many planners are out to force us into uncomfortable living situations. I believe the intentions of encouraging density are to offer a better life and a better town.