There are many benefits to using heat-reflective cool coatings, commonly referred to as cool paints, on rooftops to keep building temperatures down, but one that hits close to the wallet is the tax benefits they can provide.
Builders and home owners with ENERGY STAR certified metal and asphalt roofs with pigmented coatings or cooling granules designed to reduce heat gain can receive a tax credit up to ten percent of the material’s cost. This can be a sizable deduction especially for builders upgrading to cool roofs for multiple buildings.
So why the tax break?
Using cool-paints as roof-top coatings simply makes good sense for the environment, by reducing energy consumption. According to ENERGY STAR, Americans spend about $40 billion annually to cool buildings through air conditioning – this ranks number six of all the electricity generated in the country.
The reason for this is that much of a building’s heat comes directly from the sun’s rays on the roof. While some of this heat gets reflected by the roof, a good portion of it gets absorbed and transferred to the building below, significantly increasing internal temperatures and, in turn, driving up the cost to maintain a comfortable temperature.
While cool paint can address heat in the building it is covering, there are additional environmental and health benefits to cool roofs. Cool roofs can reduce local air temperatures, which minimizes urban heat island effects caused by urban areas that experience significantly higher temperatures than surrounding areas. What causes heat islands are closely situated buildings, which trap heat; asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks that absorb the heat from the sun; and exhaust from buses, cars and factories.
A heat island reduces air quality since the increased pollutants released into the air from exhausts from vehicles, factories and other sources don’t have an effective way to dissipate around densely packed buildings. It also affects water quality by warming up streams and other bodies, which can negatively impact aquatic life. We also may have experienced first-hand the effects of heat islands on our own health, since they are known to cause heat stroke, respiratory problems and other health issues.
Benefits of Cool Roofs
Energy efficient roof products can reflect more of the sun’s rays, lowering roof surface temperatures by up to 50°F. They can help reduce the amount of air conditioning needed in buildings, and can reduce peak cooling demand by 10-to-15 percent.
Nearly any type of building can benefit from a cool roof. Just as wearing light-colored clothing can help keep you cool on a sunny day, cool roofs reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. But what exactly is a cool roof? Although any white roof paint provides some reflective capabilities, an effective cool coating is one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. It will also protect the roof surface from sunlight, chemical and water damage, and extend its life. The Cool Roof Rating Council provides accurate information on the reflective capabilities of coating products.
Cool coatings can come in many different forms – from acrylic paints to polyurethanes with high durability. Although traditionally most cool paints have been white, they now come in other colors. Advanced polymer coating technology for cool paints available today enables black or dark colored roof coatings to reflect the sun’s infrared rays and significantly reduce heat.
4 Steps to Pick Your Cool Paint Wisely
Given the environmental benefits of cool roofs, along with the financial incentives and tax breaks, it’s no wonder that many options have hit the market. It’s important to do your research and pick one that will earn you a positive return on your investment. Below are some considerations:
- Make sure the coating can withstand temperature fluctuations. Just as the sun’s UV rays can age skin, it also can have serious consequences on roofs, causing materials to deteriorate or crack faster, impacting their effectiveness. New cool paint technologies are impervious to dramatic temperature fluctuations, repelling heat-causing IR radiation, which can increase the lifespan of roofs and reduce the costs of repairing or replacing them.
- Find out how it is applied. Some new coatings are applied using a standard gravity feed spray gun and requires just a single application at a recommended thickness of only two millimeters, dramatically reducing your labor costs. They also can be applied on top of existing paints, other coatings and smooth surfaces, including concrete and rubber.
- Determine the life span. Ask how long the coating can be expected to remain intact and fully effective. This should be upwards of 15-20 yearx.
- Learn the solar reflectance index. Cool coating vendors should be able to provide this number, and the higher the better. A higher SRI means lower energy costs.
Cool roofs have many advantages when it comes to more efficiently cooling buildings and weakening the effects of heat islands, but the huge financial incentives should not to be ignored –a win-win all around.
To learn more about how to select a cool coating, read our eBook, Roof Coatings 101.