There’s no denying the fact that American households and organizations are finding it hard with every passing year to keep up with their monthly electricity bills. Consumption is rising and it becomes practically impossible to keep temperature low in areas such as garages and patios. Well, there’s a solution to everything.
Cool Roof is a green building technology that helps keep a building cool while saving energy and offsetting carbon emissions. Let’s take a look at how this technology can possibly solve the urban heat island issue while saving energy costs.
Urban Heat Islands – Why are Cities Hotter?
If you happen to drive from rural areas into cities during summers, you will notice a marked difference in the temperatures of the two places. The temperature rises as you get closer to cities. This is known as Urban Heat Island Effect. As the vegetation, which reflects a majority of solar energy, is gradually replaced by asphalt and concrete, which absorbs a majority of solar energy, urban heat islands develop. Tall buildings and hot roofs baked by the sun trap the heat from the afternoon and reduce air flow, thus preventing heat from escaping and making cities hotter.
Cool Roofs – an Eco-Friendly Way to Beat the Heat
Cool roofs are an innovative technology that helps bring down building temperatures by reflecting sun’s heat and preventing heat absorption within the building, eventually creating a more comfortable indoor environment, and overall cooler temperatures.
With dark, traditional material, the temperature may reach up to 65°C (149°F). With cool roof technology, however, the temperature can be brought down to under 40°C. This huge difference in temperature results in great energy and cost savings.
It is achieved by two mechanisms:
- by reflecting away a percentage of the visible, UV, and infrared radiation from the sun (reducing heat transfer to the building)
- by emitting away the heat retained by the building
There is a Cool Roof for Every Building
Cool roofs come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of buildings. To determine which type of cool roof will be most suitable for your building, you will have to consider the slope of your building’s roof, the type of the building, and other factors.
Here are the three basic types of cool roofs:
- Coated Roofs: This is achieved by coating just about any roof in a paint-like finish. The coating can be done on any conventional roofing surface, and the pigment consists of a variety of materials and colors to perform unique cooling functions.
- Foam Roofs: These type of roofs do an excellent job of insulating a building’s interior while also having a very high thermal emittance. The foam usually consists of two different liquid chemicals that combine to form a very flexible and lightweight roofing material.
- Built-up roofing systems: These are a more complex type of low-sloped cool roofing material which require multiple layers. These include a base sheet, a fiberglass reinforcement layer, and a protective surface layer.
Benefits of Cool Roofs
When embarking upon a roof resurfacing project for your building, cool roof technology can be an amazing choice, given the several benefits it has to offer:
- Low energy consumption: A cool roof helps keep the building below cool. As a result, it uses less energy for air conditioning.
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Since less energy is used, cool roofs decrease the associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Better human health and comfort: Cool roofs reduce the temperatures inside buildings making it more comfortable to live and helping prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.
- Great savings: According to a California study, cool roofs provide an average yearly net savings of almost $0.50 per square foot, which eventually translates into great savings for homeowners.
With so many benefits, numerous cities across the country have expressed their interest in cool roof technology. While the benefits of this technology are yet to be taken to many, the changes they bring will ultimately help cities beat their summer woes and temper their summer spikes in electricity.
Factors to Consider before Installing Cool Roofs
Given its cost savings and positive impact upon the environment, Cool Roofing Technology can be an attractive alternative. However, there are certain factors that must be considered:
Climate conditions and amount of sun: Cool roofs are best suited for hotter climates as cold climates might see an increase in their heating bill if they add cool roofs to their homes.
Humidity: In warm climates with high humidity, cool roofs are more prone to mold and fungal growth. They should, therefore, be coated to protect against moisture and microbial growth. In cooler climates with high humidity, cool roofs are prone to condensation, so roof design must be chosen to mitigate these issues.
Whether the building is ready or under-construction: There are a variety of cool roofing solutions available if the building is still in the planning phase. The solutions available for existing buildings are limited in comparison.
What Next? Technology that Beams Heat into Space
While cool roof technology has slowly made its way into not just developed nations but also developing nations battling with rising heat and energy crisis, newer structure cooling technologies are emerging every year.
Recently, a Stanford research team has developed cooling panels that help cool building by sending heat into outer space. The project is still in the testing phase and scientists are testing the panels as a way to cool air conditioners and refrigeration units so they run more efficiently.
That said, heat islands are one of the downsides of city life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about this complex environmental phenomena. For now, cool roofs could be the answer you are looking for to make your city life more comfortable while keeping your energy bills low and while reducing your environmental impact.