(EMS Station Guelph, ON)
It’s a fact that buildings consume two thirds of all the electricity produced in North America and one third of all the energy produced in North America. While it is recognized that cooling and heating costs can be reduced by adding insulation under the roof surface, there is a diminishing return on the strategy of increasing insulation to conserve energy costs. This is where “cool roofing” can play a role in further reducing the energy consumed, and in minimizing the Heat Island effect created in the big urban cities. Cool roofing relies on the properties of reflectivity and emissivity of the roofing material.
Reflectivity is the ability of the roof to reflect solar radiation back into the atmosphere. Its primary measure is solar reflectance - the proportion of the total solar radiation that is reflected back to the atmosphere. Any solar radiation that is not reflected is absorbed into the building envelope, requiring further energy to cool the building; or partially convected into the atmosphere increasing the ambient air temperature in the surrounding environment (Heat Island effect).
The measure of reflectivity is the Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) which takes into account the properties of the material as well as the cooling effect of wind passing over the roof. The SRI for a low slope roof will be 0 for standard black (reflectance 0.05, emittance 0.90) and 100 for standard white (reflectance 0.80, emittance 0.90).
Emissivity is the ability of the roof to re-radiate absorbed solar infrared radiation back to the atmosphere. This takes place at all times, but mostly at night. Its measure is Infrared Emittance - the proportion of absorbed infrared solar radiation that is re-emitted back to the atmosphere. For prepainted sheet steel colours, the emissivity is generally high and close to 0.90.