Leading By Example: DOE Headquarters Gets a Cool Roof

The new cool roof installation on the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Headquarters West Building has been completed. No incremental cost was incurred by adding the cool roof as part of the roof replacement project, and it will save taxpayers $2,000 every year in energy costs. Earlier this year, Secretary Steven Chu directed all DOE offices to install cool roofs, whenever cost effective, when constructing a new roof or replacing an old one. “This is a simple, low-cost technology that can provide tremendous benefits for government, businesses and homeowners across the country,” he stated. 

Cool roofs use lighter-colored roofing surfaces or special coatings to reflect more of the sun’s heat, helping to improve building efficiency and reduce cooling costs. Traditional dark-colored roofing materials typically absorb 80 to 90% of solar energy, increasing temperatures on the surface and heating the building, which in turn requires additional air conditioning. Cool roofs typically absorb less than 50% of solar energy, reducing the roof temperature and decreasing the energy used in air conditioning. 

The Department’s new cool roof on the West Building covers approximately 25,000 square feet. In the spring, DOE will also install a cool roof on the Headquarters’ South Building, covering approximately 66,000 square feet. As a result of the new cool roof installations on both buildings, taxpayers will save a total of $8,000 per year in energy costs.

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