National labs partner with Dow Chemical Co. to improve cool roof technology

The groups aim to support research that will increase energy savings from existing cool roof technologies by more than 50%.


The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced that Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have joined with Dow Chemical Co. as part of a cooperative research and development agreement to fund key research that will help develop the next generation of cool roof technologies in the U.S. The agreement will support research to increase the energy savings from existing cool roof technologies by more than 50%, decreasing the nation's carbon footprint and providing an opportunity for Americans to save money by saving energy.Green Roof

"Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

ORNL will partner with LBNL to capitalize on the broad range of cool roof technology experience from their applied research in this field. In partnership with Dow, the national laboratories will work to improve the ability of roof coatings to continue reflecting sunlight after years of exposure to the elements, which involves improving the long-term resistance of these materials to dirt build-up and microbial growth. The goal is to design and commercialize the next generation of cool roof components that can significantly reduce the energy consumption of new and existing buildings.

The replacement or resurfacing of conventional roofing materials with improved reflective roof coatings could help save up to 25% on air conditioning energy costs, up from to 15% savings with existing cool roof coatings. This would reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 5 metric tons for every 10,000 sq ft of commercial building roof area.

Commercial buildings in the U.S. today offer an opportunity to retrofit over 20 billion sq ft of roofing space. A study by researchers at LBNL found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of a year of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. Energy savings are highly variable based on levels of installed insulation, climate, and other related factors. DOE has a calculator to help building owners determine the potential savings of their buildings.

The DOE completed the installation of a cool roof in December 2010 that covers approximately 25,000 sq ft on its Headquarters West Building in Washington, D.C. This spring, DOE will also install a cool roof on the Headquarters South Building, covering approximately 66,000 sq ft. As a result of the new cool roof installations on both buildings, taxpayers will save a total of $8,000 per year in energy costs. Chu encouraged other federal agencies to take similar steps at their facilities. DOE has released Guidelines for Selecting Cool Roofs, which provides technical assistance on types of roofing materials and how to select the roof that will work best on a specific facility.

Click here for more information about cool roofs from the DOE.

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