July 2013
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The un-cool consequences of cool roofing

The un-cool consequences of cool roofing 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars

Cool roof systems are not a universal fix for climate change and energy savings

by Samir Ibrahim
6 people have posted comments


During the past 15 years, reflective, or "cool," roofs have been promoted as an effective way for building owners to save energy and lower utility costs while reducing a building's carbon footprint. The belief white roofs always are the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient choice is widely accepted. There are even white roofing mandates for commercial buildings at the state and local government levels. Cool roofs are seen as a quick, low-cost solution to reduce global carbon emissions, in turn affecting climate change. However, cool roofs are not a quick fix for climate change and may actually increase energy consumption in certain climates.

Cool roofing promotion

Adding to the popular belief reflective roofing is a quick fix for climate change and the best way to achieve energy savings, institutions and researchers have promoted reflective roofing regardless of geographic location. Cool roofing has been touted as an easily attainable method for achieving energy savings, climate zone or insulation levels notwithstanding.

Despite the promotion of the cool roof concept, roofing professionals know different geographic areas, climates and weather conditions require different types of roof systems. Despite what theories may suggest, there is not a one-size-fits-all roofing solution...



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Comments (6) Login to post a comment or rating

Posted by mikl on 9/21/2013, User rating 
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Samir You kind of go in circles but eventually you get out the basic info with nothing new since 2010. I know I'm talking to a bunch of roofers who are afraid of DYS but does anyone know of a white coating that does not seal the shingles? There are millions of houses that could benifitt from a white coating. They are not new homes and they have never seen the dreaded dew point. Please listen and open your mind. We have a big problem brewing and we need your experience and if you have it in you, your innovative talent.
Posted by Trevor on 7/26/2013, User rating 
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I'm curious why Samir does not touch on the LEED aspect of reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect? According to other research he is aware of, a reflective roof may in fact increase the Urban Heat Island debunking the perceived benefit of white roofs for a LEED credit. Green Roof has far more potential of reducing carbon foot print.
Posted by doctorleak on 7/24/2013, User rating 
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a good article. As I am someone from the north country I find that so many newer building envelope systems that are instantly adopted by the powers that be dont turn out to be as miraculous as they are made out to be. My other pet peave with reflective roof membranes is that they dont stay white for long and often become unsightly rapidly. Keep up the good work Samir.
Posted by jbalachowski on 7/23/2013, User rating 
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A thoughtful article that emphsizes the many complexities of high-performance construction. Snide, unnecessary jab from puckfisher.
Posted by puckfisher on 7/19/2013, User rating 
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Super article -- concise and spot-on. Please, please listen all you tree huggers come lately.
Posted by APPSEBS on 7/13/2013, User rating 
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As usual, well done, Samir.

NRCA NRCA