"A cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight than a conventional roof, absorbing less solar energy," explains the U.S. Department of Energy. In turn, this roof helps lower the temperature of the building. The concept is similar to wearing light-colored clothing in hot weather. Your clothing reflects the sunlight and helps keep you cool. A cool roof reflects sunlight and helps keep the roof and overall building cooler.
Many types of roofing materials offer "cool" roof options depending on the product color and formulation.
"The surface solar reflectance of the roofing product—the outermost layer of the roof exposed to the sun—determines whether the roof is cool or not," says the U.S. Department of Energy.
For low slope roofs, these products include specific:
A roof has to meet particular criteria to be designated "cool." The requirements vary depending on the classifying organization and local government, so check with a qualified contractor or design professional before making assumptions about a roof's official rating.
While cool roof coatings or materials can be retrofitted onto a building during a repair or replacement, the easiest and most affordable way to get a cool roof is by planning for it in the construction phase. Cool roofs can cost about the same as non-cool alternatives.
Not sure if a cool roof is suitable for your climate or building? Try the Roof Explorer. Answer three questions and get roof recommendations that consider your location, reflectivity regulations, hail risk, and building type/use.