Cool roofs and chicken coops

Ways to stay cool in sunny Chico

Global cooling?
U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu made the news recently when he mandated that all new roofs on Energy Department buildings be white or reflective, citing the cooling effect of white and other reflective-material roofs—or “cool roofs”—that reflect the heat of the sun, and the resulting savings in energy costs from reduced reliance upon air-conditioners.

Chu was quoted as saying that “Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest-cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change.”

A new study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that switching to cool roofs and reflective pavements in cities with populations of more than 1 million would drastically reduce CO2 emissions from roofs and pavement.

Locally, roofer Bill Crane (pictured, holding highly reflective, PVC roofing “membrane”) of Chico Roofing Co. (3030 Thorntree Drive, Ste. 2, 892-9071) is seeing an increase in the use of white and reflective roofs for both residential and commercial buildings, especially in light of updated Title 24 energy-efficiency standards effective at the beginning of this year.

For flat roofs (including over a patio or deck), Crane employs a highly reflective, white or silver paint-on coating, a “rolled-out, self-adhered membrane” that is “cold-applied,” or thick, white, “heat-welded” PVC or TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) membranes, depending on the job.

For pitched roofs, Crane also offers “cool shingles”—not white, but made in light colors and coated with special solar-reflecting granules—that meet Title 24 standards.

He also sells less expensive, regular-asphalt “Shasta White” shingles that, together with “adequate insulation in the attic, energy-efficient dual-paned windows and adequate ventilation” such as attic vents or solar-powered fans, can offer energy savings and a cooler house.

Chicken coops, Part 2
Perhaps last week’s column got you thinking about how much you’d like to raise a few hens in your backyard—as much for the agreeable sound of their gentle clucking as for the delicious, fresh eggs. Did you know, by the way, that different types of chickens lay different-colored eggs? The Araucana, for instance, lays pretty blue eggs, and the Orpington (pictured) lays light-brown eggs.

You’ll need a coop, of course. And you’ll also need some know-how about how to raise chickens.

There’s a great, go-to website——that should answer many of your questions about everything from the cost of raising chickens, to how to work with the amount of space you have, to choosing chicken breeds, to tips on how (and where) to build a successful chicken coop, including information on type of roof and how to properly construct the surrounding pen.

Another site,, features a “learning center” offering information on chicken anatomy (do you know the difference between a “wattle,” a “hackle” and a “sickle”?), diseases, predators and general care of a chicken from chick to adult. The site also offers a popular online forum for help with issues from building coops to egg-laying to “Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change them).”

Also, according to, “To reflect heat during the summer, some individuals choose to … use aluminum roofing and white paint” when roofing their coop.