Energy-efficient roofing materials can dramatically reduce household energy use, thereby decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and significantly lowering utility bills.

"Cool roofs" is an umbrella term for several different roofing systems. In short, a cool roof is a roof designed to reflect sunlight and heat. Conventional roofing materials reflect only 5 to 15 percent, which means they absorb 85 to 95 percent of the energy and heat from the sun. The coolest roofing materials reflect more than 65 percent, absorbing 35 percent or less of the energy from the sun. Thermal emittance determines how readily a surface gives up heat. Ideally, a roof will have a high percentage of reflectance and a high percentage of emittance.

Low-sloped roofs are normally found on commercial buildings, industrial buildings and multifamily homes. They can be made more efficient through the application of cool coating or single-ply membrane. Cool coating is the consistency of thick paint and can be applied to existing surfaces, such as asphalt, gravel, metal and various single-ply materials. Cool coatings have additional benefits, including improved adhesion, durability, suppression of algae growth and an ability to self-wash under normal rainfall. Single-ply membranes come in prefabricated sheets and are generally glued or mechanically fastened in place over the entire surface of the roof.

Source: National Geographic

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