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Cool Roofing Systems

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Cool Roofing Systems

Roofing systems that can deliver high solar reflectance (the ability to reflect the visible, infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths of the sun, reducing heat transfer to the building) and high thermal emittance (the ability to release a large percentage of absorbed, or non-reflected solar energy) are called cool roofs. Cool roofs fall into one of three categories: inherently cool, green planted roofs or coated with a cool material.

Inherently cool roofs: Roof membranes made of white or light colored material are inherently reflective and achieve some of the highest reflectance and emittance measurements of which roofing materials are capable. A roof made of thermoplastic white vinyl, for example, can reflect 80% or more of the sun's rays and emit at least 70% of the solar radiation that the building absorbs. An asphalt roof only reflects between 6 and 26% of solar radiation, resulting in greater heat transfer to the building interior and greater demand for air conditioning – a strain on both operating costs and the electric power grid.[4]

Green planted roofs: A green roof is a roof that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. A green roof typically consists of many layers, including an insulation layer; a waterproof membrane, often vinyl; a drainage layer, usually made of lightweight gravel, clay, or plastic; a geotextile or filter mat that allows water to soak through but prevents erosion of fine soil particles; a growing medium; plants; and, sometimes, a wind blanket. Green roofs are classified as either intensive or extensive, depending on the depth of planting medium and amount of maintenance required. Traditional roof gardens, which are labor intensive and require a reasonable depth of soil to grow large plants are considered intensive, while extensive green roofs are nearly self-sustaining and require less maintenance.

Coated roofs: One way to make an existing or new roof reflective is by applying a specifically designed white roof coatings (not simply white paint) on the roof's surface. The coating must be Energy Star rated. Reflectivity and emissivity ratings for all reflective roof products can be found in the CRRC (Cool Roofs Rating Council) website
Cool roofs of all types offer various benefits. Cool roofs offer both immediate and long-term savings in building energy costs.

Inherently cool roofs, coated roofs and planted or green roofs can:

  • Reduce building heat-gain, as a white or reflective roof typically increases only 5–14 °C (10–25 °F) above ambient temperature during the day[5]
  • Enhance the life expectancy of both the roof membrane and the building's cooling equipment.
  • Improve thermal efficiency of the roof insulation; this is because as temperature increases, the thermal conductivity of the roof's insulation also increases.
  • Reduce the demand for electric power by as much as 10 percent on hot days.
  • Reduce resulting air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Provide energy savings, even in northern climates on sunny (not necessarily "hot") days.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 March 2011 14:35