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American Institute of Architects Recognizes the Benefits of Cool Roofs

Posted by karen-smith-murphy on July 6, 2015

In April of this year, GCCA Board Member Greg Kats published a study of the health benefits of cool roofs on Washington DC-owned buildings. After the District retrofitted many of its buildings with white roofs, green roofs, and / or solar collectors the city started saving money. This study turns things on its head by showing that using the old technology of conventional dark roofs is a policy failure that costs cities and building owners money.

Robert Ivy, chief executive of the American Institute of Architects discusses this study, along with other cool roof benefits in this Washington Post guest column. In it, he notes that the highly reflective surfaces of white roofs cut energy bills and can help improve the health of residents and cool cities.

“We’ve known for years that smart roofs save energy, and we’ve been able to come up with methodologies to quantify those savings. However, the health benefits of such design choices have been harder to figure out. The authors of this report, Greg Kats and Keith Glassbrook, have addressed this complex question, and their findings could have an impact on improving the health of residents in urban areas across the nation.

Roofs typically make up 15 to 25 percent of most cities’ surface areas. And because roofs can typically be replaced or retrofitted more frequently than entire buildings, they represent an opportunity for developers and building owners to dramatically cut the “heat island effect” in urban environments …

Use of such techniques, in turn, can have public health benefits, particularly for low-income and elderly residents who tend to be more vulnerable to illnesses related to extreme heat and poor air quality. Moreover, heat mitigation through adoption of cool and green roofs can help ameliorate the effects of heat stress.

The report will prove to be relevant reading for designers, architects or city officials trying to battle the pernicious health effects of urban heat islands. These new methodologies suggest ways for cities to quantify the benefits of their building codes, policies and incentive programs.”

You can read the full report here:
Washington, DC Smart Roof Cost – Benefit Report

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Karen Smith-Murphy