How Designers Would Use the New Cooling Paint Color

Several years ago, the scientific and academic communities celebrated the development of Vantablack, a material that can absorb up to 99.9% of visible light. The invention had exciting implications for solar and perhaps even space exploration, and artist Anish Kapoor covered his infamous Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago with the substance. Now the blackest black color has found its match with the whitest white, that was made this year by researchers at Purdue University.

The “ultra-white” paint has been developed with a very high percentage of barium sulfate, a chemical compound with different sized particles that allows the paint to spread more light. In fact, the Purdue team found that the color could reflect up to 981% of sunlight, which could have breathtakingly important consequences in the fight against climate change – especially in terms of the ability to cool buildings without the need for air conditioning.

“Possible applications include building roofs, food storage units, warehouses, data centers, outdoor equipment, automobiles, etc.,” says Purdue researcher Xiangyu Li House beautiful. “[W]We also want to lower the barrier for the general public to adopt the new paint, so we’ve made the new paint compatible with existing commercial paints. The manufacturing process and overall cost are similar, and it can also be easily brushed and applied to a variety of surfaces, similar to commercial paints. ”

Given that convenience, the ultra-white paint can be on the market within a few years. We turned to interior designers, architects and people elsewhere in the sustainable design space to hear how they would use the product in their projects and with their clients.

Under solar panels

“The best place to apply this paint is in roofing and wall cladding, so it prevents heat from building up on the roof and walls and entering the home. The other benefit of a cooler roof is that solar panels are much more efficient at lower temperatures, so lowering the roof temperatures will significantly increase the output of solar panels. “
—Marc Clejan, founder of sustainability design firm Modern NetZero

Around an art installation

“I imagine I would use ultra white to wash sunlight across a ceiling or to reflect indirect light deep into an interior space. We’ve collaborated with artists who use bright, flat white to refract or diffuse light around their installations, so I’d be curious to see how it enhanced or interacted with art in a gallery or museum setting. We already prefer very white finishes on interior walls because of the play of light and shadow on these surfaces. Ultra white could provide the opportunity to do this even more dramatically, allowing us to create a heightened sense of poetry and transformation. “
—Kevin M. Kudo-King, AIA, LEED AP, director of architecture firm Olson Kundig

On a roof terrace

“The albedo effect negatively impacts the Earth’s heat balance and climate, but when radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by materials, the opposite can happen. Highly reflective paint is a no-brainer for flat roofs and roof equipment. I would love to try it on a roof terrace with a lot of sun and see if we need sunglasses! “
—Catherine Fowlkes, director of architecture firm Fowlkes Studio

On the outside of a building

“I’m from the Caribbean so the first thing I would do is paint so many houses! As well as thinking about passive cooling when building, this is a great way to tackle that issue in a low tech way too. paint all my screeds with it, so it’s cooler underfoot. “
—Maryline Damour, Co-Founder and Chief Designer at Damour Drake

For a pool house

“I love the idea of ​​using this ultra-white paint on the entire outside of a pool house: walls, roof and moldings! I can just imagine the surrounding greenery and water beautifully reflecting off the surfaces. The white roof would also keep the pool house interior cool, which would help reduce energy consumption. Win win! “
—Jennifer Jones, lead designer of Niche interiors

In a conservatory

“The new ultra-white paint would perfectly complement conservatory walls, ceiling treatments or a screened-in porch. I like to paint the backgrounds of these types of spaces in shades of white, which is a way to let the sunlight, the natural landscape and the surroundings shine through the windows that also typically fill these spaces. “
—Cara Fox, owner and chief designer of the housing company Fox Group

On Stucco walls

“The new ‘ultra-white’ paint is a fantastic product for us. We use a lot of white in our design, both indoors and outdoors, and can use this paint in multiple ways. It can be useful to paint our white plastered walls with this white paint. We usually use integrated paint plaster, but painting over it does not change the design and we would have such added value in terms of cooling properties. “
—Mary Maydan, Founder and Director of Maydan Architects

As part of a Sunbreaker

“I would like to combine the ultra-white paint with a brise soleil in a chic beach or desert house. The highly reflective surface of the paint would likely increase the effectiveness of brise-soleil’s passive daylight performance, bouncing natural light further in. When you combine both passive strategies, you maximize your energy efficiency by reducing both the air conditioning and lighting needed during the day. It’s a win-win for the environment and your energy bill! “
—Sarah Hill, Director of Urban pioneering architecture

Focused in a stained glass window

“We are working on a mansion renovation with a light box at the top of a mahogany stairwell. Above the stairs is a beautiful stained glass skylight and above it is the attic. We are designing a light box above the stained glass skylight so that the box catches all the sunlight. and concentrates this in the stained glass piece and on the stairwell. We use this strategy to make the most of daylight through a dark high space, while taking advantage of the existing conditions and details. paint would be a great option in this case . ”
—Ramona Albert, director of Ramona Albert Architecture

On Metal Garden Furniture

“I would recommend this paint for flat roofs and metal roofs. When I became a LEED Accredited Professional, I learned that a light-colored roof drastically reduces energy costs in warm climates. This could also reduce the heat island effect in hot urban areas affected by global warming. It would be interesting to try this paint on metal patio furniture as well so that it feels cool. “
—Cameron Schwabenton, ASID, LEED AP, Director of Cameron Stewart, Ltd. Co.

To brighten up a kitchen

“While there is no doubt that this ultra-white paint will work wonders for the environment – the idea that it could be used to combat global warming is quite remarkable – but as a designer, I am interested in how it works on a decorative way. More specifically I am curious when it will be available so I can use it on my kitchen walls! Over the years I have painted my kitchen different shades of white, and lack of natural sunlight always makes my kitchen feel dark and a bit sad. I am always looking for a miracle paint… this must be it!
—Madeline Stuart, lead designer of Madeline Stuart Associates

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