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Energy 101: Cool Roofs

January 31, 2011 - 12:38pm

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This edition of Energy 101 takes a look at how switching to a cool roof can save you money and benefit the environment.

In this edition of Energy 101 we take a look at one of Secretary Chu’s favorite energy efficiency techniques, cool roofs. Traditional dark-colored roofing materials absorb a great deal of sunlight, which in turn transfers heat to a building. Cool roofs use light-colored, highly reflective materials to regulate building temperatures without increasing electricity demand, which can result in energy savings of up to 10 to 15 percent.

Cool roofs can also reduce the "heat island" effect in cities and suburbs, a phenomenon that produces higher temperatures in densely populated areas due to extensive changes in the landscape, as well as associated smog and carbon emissions. It’s also extremely cost effective, which is why the Department of Energy recently opted to switch to a cool roof when it came time to replace the roofing at our Washington, D.C. headquarters – an investment that’s projected to cut thousands of dollars off our utility bills each year.

Also featured in this video are green roofs, which grow vegetation on top of a building to provide several benefits, including reduced energy use, reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and enhanced water quality.



For more information on building technologies that can benefit the environment and save you money, visit the Building Technologies Program Website.


John Schueler is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs.

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