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Roof Cooling in Modern Construction: Techniques and Benefits

By on August 30, 2023

It used to be known as global warming. Now it’s called global boiling. World temperatures are soaring uncontrollably, and it’s our cities that are facing the brunt of it. Built with concrete and asphalt, “urban heat islands,” as they’re known, can face sustained temperatures never faced before.

This leads to substantially increased costs for residents and dramatic energy use increases. That’s before you consider the discomfort that the additional heat delivers.

One of the major contributing factors is the roof of the building itself. Typically, we think about roofs as protection from the elements. Keeping out rain, snow, and wind. What we don’t always think about is heat. Traditional roofing absorbs solar energy and pumps it into our homes. Effectively creating an oven.

This is where roof cooling comes into play. The process aims to reduce this heat, create more comfortable homes, and reduce energy use.

The Science Of Roof Cooling

Our world is continuously bombarded with solar energy from the sun. Sunlight enters the atmosphere and is then absorbed or reflected by surfaces that it interacts with. The roofs over our homes and buildings are no different. They reflect and absorb just the same. They, however, get very little respite from the onslaught. Depending on the material used and the color it is, huge amounts of energy can be absorbed.

Traditional darker roofing materials are solar sponges. Absorbing solar energy at high rates. That means the temperature of the roof surface increases, and subsequently, so does the internal space of the building below. The inhabitants get incredibly warm and then rely on energy-consuming air-conditioning systems.

Roof cooling aims to combat this. The concept is to create a roof that repels solar radiation instead of absorbing it. If we create roofs that enable reflection, then it stands to reason that the interior will be cooler as a result.

It’s a simple concept. The key is to combine effective materials with innovative design and building choices to achieve the desired result.

Roof Cooling Techniques

There are a few different ways that we can begin to achieve roof cooling. Some require entirely new practices and materials. Others work by adapting what is already in place.

Reflective Roof Coatings

Sometimes replacing the entire roof isn’t economically viable or a sustainable choice. Using a reflective roof coating, homeowners are able to transform their current roof into one that enables cooling. Coatings are made of reflective materials that reflect the sun’s radiation. You’ll typically see white or light-colored material used in the coatings. This can even be painted on using elastomeric paint.

Living Roofs

They certainly look radical, but living roofs are excellent at cooling. The roofs are completely covered in plants or grass. This acts as an insulator that absorbs sunlight. The plants benefit through photosynthesis, in turn delivering oxygen into the air and using carbon dioxide. Plus, by releasing moisture through transpiration, they further cool the area.

Cooling Tiles And Shingles

As with the reflective roof coatings, manufacturers are creating shingles and tiles that are made from reflective materials. These can be used during roof renovations or new roof installations to deliver a cooling effect instantly. You could even opt to install solar roofing.

Roof Overhangs and Shading

Where buildings are surrounded by other buildings, overhangs and shades can be created to protect roofs that are below. These act as an additional layer to absorb the sun so it doesn’t directly impact the roof below.


Most roofs are built with some ventilation in them. Few are built to withstand this modern heat. Working with modern techniques such as ridge vents and soffit vents, contractors can improve airflow into and out of the roof to promote cooling.

Benefits Of Roof Cooling

We’ve touched on the benefits of roof cooling, but it’s worthwhile being explicit:

Energy Savings: When we employ roof cooling, homeowners are able to save energy in terms of energy use and also financially. Airconditioning requirements are reduced considerably.

Improved Roof Lifespan: High temperatures increase the amount of wear and tear on the roof. That means more maintenance and a higher likelihood that the roof will need renovation or replacement. Cooler roofs have reduced levels of this.

Improved Comfort: Temperatures in the building are far more comfortable without the need for air conditioning use continuously.
Sustainable: The carbon footprint of the building is reduced considerably once roof cooling is implemented.

Challenges In Roof Cooling

Roof cooling is not without its own set of challenges:

Installation Cost: This is a new technology that requires new materials, and that comes with a cost. Even green or living roofs have substantial costs for installation. But when considering the long-term benefits, the installation cost can be seen as a worthwhile investment. It’s worth asking questions such as, “How much does solar roofing cost?” when researching.

Maintenance: New technologies haven’t been adopted by all roofing contractors, so it might be difficult to find a professional to maintain your cooling roof.

Climate Variations: What works well in one part of the world might not have the same effect in another part of the world. There needs to be more detailed testing in place.

Key Takeaways

The planet is warming, and our habitats are evolving. We have to take charge in the scenario that we’re faced with, or we risk falling into calamity. Embracing new technologies to combat the situation is our opportunity to put our adaptability to the test. Using roof cooling won’t only make our living conditions more comfortable. It will benefit the planet as a whole.

– Roof cooling is a new technology with a few options for implementation.
– Installation costs might be considerable, but the long-term dividends make them worthwhile.
– Some techniques require full roof renovation, while others can be applied to existing roof structures.

Looking for some professional, impartial advice on roof cooling? Get in touch with All County Exteriors.

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