The Definitive Guide: Commercial Cool Roof Coatings [2022]

It’s no secret that it can get pretty hot here in Los Angeles, and it’s also no secret that air conditioning bills can stretch higher than a downtown skyscraper while you try to keep your commercial building cool.


Central Roofing Company is here to offer some useful information on how you can improve the performance of your roof and keep things cool for you, your employees, and your customers with cool roof coatings this upcoming sweltering summer season.


Why you should take our word for it? We have decades of experience serving Southern California properties since 1992. Our Clients include See’s Candies, Mattel, Cacique. With that being said, let’s dive right in!


What is a Cool Roof?


On a hot day, a conventional roof is the hottest part of a building. It’s the closest to the sun and receives the most direct light. Since roofs on commercial buildings often extend above the highest nearby trees, the top of the building gets almost no shade. Additionally, conventional roofs are usually made from darker colors and materials that absorb heat. Common materials include asphalt, tar, black rubber, fabric, or some combination of the four. If you’ve ever felt the heat emanating off the blacktop on a hot summer day, you can start to imagine just how hot the roof is.


While insulation stops some of that heat from trickling down into your building, it’s not perfect. A conventional roof increases your energy costs by forcing your air conditioning unit to work harder. It’s also worse for the environment. As it does with most materials, heat will accelerate your roof’s deterioration. Over time, you’ll spend more money maintaining a conventional roof.


A cool roof counteracts many of these harmful effects. It uses specialized materials to reflect more of the sun’s light and emit heat rather than absorb it. In some cases, it can be just five degrees warmer than the ambient outdoor temperature. These roofs use white or other light colors and reflective materials to achieve this effect. You can also find shingles in a range of colors with reflective granules to make a steep-sloped roof more attractive while staying cool.


A cool roof benefits both you and the environment by reducing energy consumption. You’ll pay less on your electricity bill, which will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The Cool Roofing System


Rather than have to tear off your current roof and put down a new one to keep your building cool, the cool roof system uses a reflective coating to bounce back the sun’s rays rather than allow them to penetrate your roof where they can lead to unnecessarily high interior temperatures and spending. Besides special roof coatings, you can also put down shingles or tiles on your church, apartment complex, multi-family home, or government building.


Types of Cool Roofs


Coated cool roofs: these roofs involve coating the roof with high reflectivity paint to increase the roof Solar Reflective Index (SRI), a measure of how well the roof reflects light and rejects heat. These coatings can be made of simple materials such as silicone, or an acrylic polymer and may contain special pigments to increase reflectivity. Most coatings are white in color and can be applied over existing roofing materials.


Membrane cool roofs: these roofs involve using pre-fabricated materials such as membranes or sheeting to cover an existing roof in order to increase the roof surface’s SRI. These types of roofs can be polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or bitumen-based.


Tiled cool roofs: these roofs involve the application of high albedo, white-colored china mosaic tiles, or shingles on top of an existing roof or to a new roof.


Green roofs: green roofs make use of vegetation to help the roof absorb less solar energy and by evaporating water in their leaves, providing further cooling. They also save by providing a thermal mass layer to reduce the flow of heat into a building. Vegetation is especially useful in reflecting infrared radiation.



The Community Benefits of Cool Roofs

A cool roof can benefit a building and its occupants by:

  1. Reducing energy bills by decreasing air conditioning needs
  2. Improving indoor comfort for spaces that are not air-conditioned, such as garages or covered patios
  3. Decreasing roof temperature, which may extend roof service life.


Beyond the building itself, cool roofs can also benefit the environment, especially when many buildings in a community have them.


Cool roofs can:

  • Reduce local air temperatures (sometimes referred to as the urban heat island effect).
  • Lower peak electricity demand, which can help prevent power outages.
  • Reduce power plant emissions, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and mercury, by reducing cooling energy use in buildings.
Cool Roof Energy Savings


Cost and Energy Savings


A cool roof does not necessarily cost more than a non-cool roof, especially if you are installing a new roof or replacing an existing one. However, converting a standard roof that’s in good condition into a cool roof can be expensive. Major roof costs include upfront installation (materials and labor) and ongoing maintenance (repair, recoating, and cleaning). Additional cool roof costs include specialized materials and labor.


Cool roofs can save money in several ways, including energy savings, rebates and incentives, HVAC equipment downsizing, and extended roof lifetime. .


Climate and Environment


Your climate is an important consideration when deciding whether to install a cool roof. Cool roofs achieve the greatest cooling savings in hot climates.


California Cool Roof Requirements


You’ll need to consult the California Title 24 Part 6 Cool Roof Requirements for any new construction, addition, or alteration covering more than 50% of the total roof or 2,000 square feet, whichever is less. Replacing, recovering, or recoating a commercial roof usually qualifies. Check out this video I made about Title 24, it can help you understand all about it.


California Cool Roof Rebate


Your commercial building likely needs to meet California’s cool roof requirements. Luckily, the state and many counties and cities have put together some resources to help businesses afford their roof upgrades. The Funding Wizard can help your business find grants, incentives, and rebates for your white roof and other sustainability projects in your area. 


Los Angeles Rebates


The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will pay you by square foot for a cool roof installation.


You can earn a rebate of $0.20 per square foot on a low-sloped roof with an SRI of 75 or higher. A steep-sloped roof with an SRI of 16 or higher can also earn this rebate. You can earn $0.30 per square foot for an SRI of 85 or higher on a low-sloped roof or an SRI of 35 or higher on a steep-sloped roof.


Anaheim Rebates


Anaheim Public Utilities has two energy efficiency rebate programs for local businesses. They include:


Customized Energy Incentives: While the company doesn’t offer a specific heat-reflective roof incentive, they will work with you to build a custom incentive program for energy efficiency upgrades such as cool roofs. Based on your building’s performance after installation, the utility provider could cover 25% of the project or $50,000, whichever is less.


New Construction Incentives Program: Anaheim Public Utilities will work with you on your new construction or renovation project to exceed Title 24 standards. It provides a maximum incentive of $50,000 per facility.


Other states & cities Cool Roof Rebates:



Whether your building has air conditioning or not, a cool roof will lower indoor air temperatures in the summer. A cooler building is more comfortable and protects occupants from heat-related illnesses. If your facility does not have air conditioning, installing a white roof will significantly impact occupant health and safety.

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