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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Physics, Economics, English Language Arts, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Article

Regional Focus


Green and Cool Roofs

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  • This article details the use of green roofs and cool roofs as a climate solution, providing the amount of carbon emissions prevented by 2050 and the benefits to the environment more broadly. 
  • Students will learn the difference between green and cool roofs, how adoption rates can affect the carbon reduction, and the economic costs and benefits of using more green and cool roofs.
Teaching Tips


  • This scientific article is a wealth of information regarding the net positives of green and cool roofs.
  • Despite the density of the information provided, students will find it easy to digest due to the structure of the resource and the breakdown of the information under specific subheadings. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand how carbon emissions are connected to global warming and climate change.
  • Students should be familiar with the format of a scientific paper.


  • Cross-curricular connections can be made in math classes that are using real-world data to complete calculations, or in language arts classes gathering evidence for argumentative writing. 
  • Engineering and science students can use this article to support a research project or climate action project to encourage the adoption of cool or green roofs in their community.
  • As an extension, have students research buildings in their neighborhoods that may already have green or cool roofs. This can be done on Google Earth. If none exist, have them evaluate which buildings would most benefit from adopting a green or cool roof, or those that could also incorporate solar panels, solar hot water, or a rooftop garden.
Scientist Notes
This resource provides a detailed analysis of adopting green roofs and cool roofs. This technique has been compared with conventional asphalt roofs, and it is an effective strategy to reduce energy use for heating and cooling buildings. It also addresses the urban heat island effect in cities. As presented, the data projection shows that the adoption rate for cool roofs from 2020-2050 may be higher than that for green roofs. However, both techniques are mitigation strategies, and the scenarios will inform better policy-making regarding scaling up the techniques. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
      • D2.Eco.10.9-12 Use current data to explain the influence of changes in spending, production, and the money supply on various economic conditions.
    • Dimension 4: Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
      • D4.5.9-12 Critique the use of the reasoning, sequencing, and supporting details of explanations.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.5 Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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