Department of Energy Labs Join to Develop Next-Generation Cool Roofs

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The Environmental Protection Agency's Research Triangle Park facitlity is an example of cool roof technology.

The Department of Energy announced on April 14 that its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have joined with The Dow Chemical Company as part of a cooperative research and development agreement to research next-generation cool roof technologies. The agreement will support research to increase the energy savings from existing cool roof technologies by more than 50 percent.

ORNL will partner with LBNL to capitalize on the broad range of cool roof technology experience they bring from their applied research in this field. The research will focus on the development of new solar reflective roof coatings that would increase the energy savings from existing cool roof technologies for new and existing commercial buildings. In partnership with Dow, DOE’s national laboratories will work to improve the ability of roof coatings to continue reflecting sunlight after years of exposure to the elements. This includes developing technologies that improve the long-term resistance of these materials to dirt build-up and microbial growth. The goal of the cooperative research partnership is to design and commercialize the next generation of cool roof components that could significantly reduce the energy consumption of new and existing buildings.

The replacement or resurfacing of conventional roofing materials with improved reflective roof coatings could offer building owners energy savings of up to 25 percent on air conditioning. Improvements could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 5 metric tons for every 10,000 square feet of commercial building roof area. Commercial buildings in the United States today offer an opportunity to retrofit more than 20 billion square feet of roofing space. A recent study by researchers at LBNL found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world could help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of a year of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy.