U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a series of initiatives underway at the Department of Energy to more broadly implement cool roof technologies on DOE facilities and buildings across the federal government. Cool roofs use lighter-colored roofing surfaces or special coatings to reflect more of the sun’s heat, helping improve building efficiency by reducing cooling costs and offsetting carbon emissions.
As part of that announcement, the Department highlighted the National Nuclear Security Administration’s efforts to conserve energy and save taxpayers money. NNSA has already installed more than two million square feet of cool and white roofs at NNSA sites across the country. Through the Roof Asset Management Program (RAMP), NNSA currently saves an average of $500,000 a year in energy costs and expects to save more than $10 million over the next 15 years. Overall, NNSA has reduced building heating and cooling costs by an average of 70 percent annually on reroofed areas by installing cool roofs and increasing insulation.
Roofs and road pavement cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas. Because they absorb so much heat, dark-colored roofs and roadways create what is called the “urban heat island effect,” where a city is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Cool roofs significantly reduce the heat island effect and improve air quality by reducing emissions. A recent study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (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 up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.