May 9, 2017
by Candy McNamee
Among the many benefits offered by cool roofs—including a decrease in urban heat island effect or increased roof system longevity—perhaps the most significant is a reduction in peak demand energy usage which directly affects building expenses.
Peak demand is the highest point in the day at which a building draws electrical consumption. A facility’s monthly utility rates are largely determined by the power usage level at this time, so anything that can be done to drive usage down will significantly reduce utility costs. As evidenced by their test values, cool roofs are an effective way to decrease air conditioning loads during peak demand times.
Cool roof values are expressed in terms of solar reflectance and thermal emissivity. The combination of these values is used to determine how hot a surface will become by its ability to reflect solar energy and radiate heat away from itself. Cool roofsare capable of reflecting solar heat away from a building by more than 70 percent. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that ENERGY STAR® qualified roofing products can lower roof surface temperatures by up to 50°F.
According to Jeff Steuben, executive director, and Carolyn Richter, communications manager, Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), in a recent Florida Roofing article, “Building occupants can experience improved comfort as compared to a conventional dark roof, as the building’s interior is subject to less thermal flux and stays cooler during warm seasons,” and, “Reduced indoor temperatures lead to energy savings from reduced cooling energy loads.”
Along these lines, contractors can also access a CRRC-provided listing of cool roof rebates, codes and voluntary cool roof programs at: www.coolroofs.org/resources/rebates-and-codes.
In addition to energy efficiency, cool metal roofs are known for extended durability and longevity, with most products offering a 40-year finish warranty.
In fact, a well-noted extensive study, Natural Exposure Testing in California, conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, found that pre-painted metal roofing maintained higher levels of reflectance, over a three-year period, due to its ability to shed particulate matter, as compared to conventional roofing materials. Further, pre-painted metal roofing has been found to retain 95 percent of its initial solar reflectance over this same three-year period.
Increasing performance and energy savings, solar reflective pigments in cool metal roofs offer higher total solar reflectance and thermal emittance, even in darker colors. With cool roof technology, the ability for the roof to store heat and radiate that heat into the building after sundown is dramatically reduced.
Cool metal roofs are proven to deliver environmental and performance benefits, of which the most significant to building owners is their contribution to the bottom line. Although savings will vary based upon geography, materials and insulation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that reflective roofs can save up to 40 percent of a building’s cooling energy costs.
When utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Cool Roof Peak Calculator, contractors will discover that the total value of energy savings offered by a cool roof averages more than $1,000 annually in most climate zones for a typical commercial building. Furthermore, this applies to both cool roofing installed over both existing roof insulation and new insulation.
As established by documented study and significant heat build-up reduction levels, cool roofs are a proven strategy for supporting longer lasting roofs, reducing both utility costs and decreasing a building’s environmental footprint as Steuben and Richter conclude, “cool roofs are one of the most effective ways to obtain energy savings and environmental rewards through building envelope design and re-roofing projects.”