Not as cool as advertised

Roofing contractors evaluate in-service performance of reflective roof membranes

During the past two decades, roofing project requirements have specified highly reflective roof covering materials. The requirements are included in model energy codes, codes and ordinances adopted or enacted by local jurisdictions, and building certification programs for construction projects. The list of codes and certification programs requiring highly reflective roof coverings has grown during the past two decades and includes:

  • Municipal Code of Chicago
  • Philadelphia Code
  • New York City Building Code
  • Municipal Code of the City of Los Angeles
  • ASHRAE Standards 90.1 and 189.1
  • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), 2012 and 2015 editions
  • California's Building Energy Efficiency Standards—Title 2
  • LEED
  • Green Globes for New Construction

Depending on jurisdiction and type of construction, the requirements are intended to drive reductions in building cooling energy use, reductions in urban heat island effects or both.


The requirements reference solar reflectance and thermal emittance ratings provided by the ENERGY STAR® Roof Products Program and Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) Products Rating Program. Although ENERGY STAR predates the CRRC Products Rating Program, current ENERGY STAR requirements for roofing products primaily rely on CRRC-developed ratings. These ratings appear in roof covering manufacturers' marketing materials and product data sheets typically included by roofing contractors as part of submittals packages when bidding projects.