Can a roof’s material cool the outside air and lower energy demand? An Argonne study says it can.
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LEMONT, Ill. ~ Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have conducted a study to examine the impact of three different types of roofing strategies on near-surface temperature and cooling energy demand in the Chicago metropolitan area. The team ran a regional climate model simulating the Chicago metro area and three types of roofs: cool (painted a heat-reflecting white), green (vegetation), and solar panels.

The results showed that all three types of roofs reduced the near-surface temperature and AC consumption demand during daytime hours when air temperature is the highest. Cool roofs reduced AC energy consumption the most, followed by green roofs and solar panel roofs, with energy demand being reduced by 16.6%, 14.0%, and 7.6%, respectively.

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The study concluded that cool roofs offer the best potential for cooling effects and cooling energy saving due to their lower cost compared to other two technologies, as well as not requiring additional water. The results will help inform sustainable development approaches, lower summertime cooling energy demand, and help minimize greenhouse gas emissions in the long term over the Chicago region.

The research was conducted as part of the Community Research on Climate & Urban Science (CROCUS) Urban Integrated Field Laboratory, which is led by Argonne in partnership with academic and community organizations and civic and industry champions focused on studying urban climate change in Chicago region. The researchers hope to achieve next a city-scale and global-scale model for each of the roofing options from this baseline study.
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