With climate change at the forefront of almost everything we do now, every industry is looking at ways to reduce the effects of climate change. In the roofing industry and in particular commercial roofing, Silicone coating “cool” roofs have been the most prevalent way at reducing the urban heat island effect. But how do silicone coatings do that? And are they really reducing the urban heat island effect? Let’s find out.
Urban Heat Island/Climate Change
Rising temperatures and flooding in areas that historically don’t have them are what we often hear about in the news, but not spoken enough is the urban heat island effect.
The Urban Heat Island Effect is a term to describe urban areas that are hotter than the surrounding areas. This is because the buildings and the modification of land surfaces such as roofs, walls, and roads all have a high concentration of dark, impervious surfaces. Also, there is a lack of trees and green space, and the tall buildings block or greatly reduce air movements. Which causes these areas to form a “heat island”.
Heat islands become dangerous when the heat becomes so high that communities have heat-related illnesses and even death. In fact, in Los Angeles, heat-related deaths have been on the rise and are greatly underreported.
Silicone Coatings are considered “cool roofs”. Due to their ability to reflect heat back into the atmosphere. These reflective materials reduce the roof surface temperature of the building which in turn reduces the overall heat inside the building and if enough buildings have them in these urban heat islands will reduce the overall heat of the area.
Additionally, by reducing the temperature of the building, silicone coatings can reduce energy costs by reducing the usage of air conditioning.
Real Life Case Studies
In late 2014 Barcelona City Council in Spain, teamed with Dow Chemical Company where they applied a cool roof coating on a flat commercial building, the result was the temperature of the roof went from 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.8 Celsius) to 57 degrees Fahrenheit (13.8 Celsius). That is an over 20 degrees Fahrenheit drop!
Additionally, science direct conducted a study in Jamaica where they applied a cool roof coating on a single-story semi-detached flat roof house. Afterward, they monitored the temperature inside the house for a year. In just one month the room air temperature inside was significantly cooler. Not only that but it continued throughout the year.
Looking at the red line curves which are measuring the hot air indoors, you can clearly see on the chart to the right, that after a cool roof was installed the indoor temperature drastically dropped.
Even though both studies we’re not on metal roofs specifically, they do show the significant impact cool roof coatings have on slowing the deterioration of the roof as well as potential energy savings.
Silicone Coatings are great, but they aren’t perfect.
In short, silicone coatings are a great way at reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect and fight climate change in general. But they are not perfect. And in fact, do have some drawbacks, which can include getting dirty easily, which reduces the positive effects silicone coatings have on mitigating heat.
Cool Roof Rebates
As I mentioned earlier silicone coatings are considered cool roofs and many states and cities offer incentives and rebates for installing them on your home or commercial roof. The Cool Roof Rating Council is a great resource to help you navigate and find financial incentives in your city.
Overall, despite some drawbacks silicone coatings are a great way to reduce heat and ultimately fight climate change. Their ability to apply to pretty any roof substrate and the fact that you don’t have to replace your whole roof makes it easier and a quicker solution than installing solar panels (although solar panels combined with a cool roof creates the ultimate “green” roof”).
Want to find out how much a silicone coating would cost to install on your roof? Use our free cool roof cost calculator tool.
Andres is the Marketing Director at Central Roofing Company. He writes about commercial roofing, cool roofs, and everything else roofing related.