The roof in Pinky’s home in western India glistens in the bright sunlight. Covered in white solar reflective paint, it helps to limit the oppressive heat – which can reach 47.8C (118F) in June – from infiltrating her home during the hottest months.
Pinky and her four siblings, who are from the Bhil tribe – one of the largest tribes in India – live in a two-room home in Badi Bhil Basti, a slum in Jodhpur, the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan. Both their parents have died.
In March, Pinky and other women from Badi Bhil Basti applied coats of white solar reflective paint to their roofs. They had learned about the paint in the community meetings led by Mahila Housing Trust (MHT), a non-profit that helps poor women in Indian cities build heat resilience.
From the top of the hill where they live, one can see brown and beige homes, many with gleaming white roofs.
“We painted the roof ourselves. It felt very good to paint one’s own home,” says 19-year old Pinky, who only uses her first name. She is a high school student and part-time tutor to local children. Since applying the paint, Pinky has noticed that her home feels cooler. Now Pinky and her students can sit downstairs during the afternoon and focus on studying…
…The University of Chicago is assessing the impact of MHT’s cool roofs on temperatures in a Delhi slum. Anant Sudarshan, the principal investigator and senior fellow at the Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago, says that although temperatures only decreased by 1C after the white paint was applied, residents reported not needing to use as much water for cooling and, therefore, saving money. However, there was little impact on the amount of electricity they used.
Aaron Bach, research fellow and thermophysiologist at Griffith University in Australia, recently published a study on modifying a garment factory in Bangladesh with passive cooling. The study found that four types of cool roofs, including white roofs, each reduce indoor air temperatures by around 2C. Other studies analysing the impact of white cool roofs in schools in rural India and Greece found indoor temperature reductions of 1.5-2C and 1.3-2.3C respectively.