Sydney orders white roofs and trees to cool climate
Sydney is to ban dark roofs on new houses and insist on a tree in every garden in an effort to combat climate change and the effects of rising summer temperatures that can soar past 50C.
The rules will initially apply to the sprawling outer suburbs in the southwest, where developers have erected row upon row of large, dark-roofed homes in treeless streets.
The roofs not only retain heat and raise ambient street temperatures but also lead to high electricity bills because of the need to cool homes, said Rob Stokes, planning minister for New South Wales.
‘‘The need to adapt and mitigate urban heat isn’t a future challenge, it’s already with us,’’ he added.
Lighter-coloured roofs will be mandatory, and new plots must be big enough for a tree in every back garden.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released this month said there was very high confidence that urbanisation had exacerbated the effects of global warming in cities, and that Australia’s land areas had warmed by about 1.4C since 1910.
Stokes, 46, said that the report showed that there might be catastrophic impacts on health, the economy and environment if the government failed to act. ‘‘When designing lots for detached housing we need backyards which are big enough to plant a tree or have a garden.
‘‘We need to say goodbye to the trend of having dark roofs.’’