Continuing with our 4 part series on Building Codes, we are now going to take a deeper dive into the three main steps in the codes process: how they are developed, adopted, and complied with. This post focuses on the first step: how energy codes are developed, and who develops them.

Building energy codes are developed through two independent entities: the International Code Council (for residential and commercial buildings) and ASHRAE (for commercial buildings). The public can participate in either of these processes; U.S. Department of Energy is statutorily required to participate in both of them. Let’s examine each process in more detail.


How it works: The International Code Council (ICC), a nonprofit organization, develops a suite of model construction codes, which all 50 states have adopted some version of. One of these model codes is the International Energy Conservation Code—which the ICC updates every three years through a public consensus process.

Here are the steps:

  1. Public submits proposals: When the cycle kicks off, any interested party can submit to the ICC, at no cost, a list of changes they’d like to see to the code. Participants typically include code officials, design professionals, code consultants, trade associations, builders and contractors, manufacturers and suppliers, and government agencies.
  2. First public hearing: The ICC compiles the list of all code change proposals received and publishes them. This is followed by the first of two public hearings, where stakeholders can debate proposals’ merits. At the first hearing, proponents and opponents of proposals make their arguments before a committee of experts assembled by the ICC that will vote on each proposal. The committee’s options are to approve a proposal as submitted, modify it and approve as modified, or disapprove it. The residential chapter and commercial chapter have separate committees.
  3. Comment period: Between the two public hearings, the public can submit written comments on the committees’ recommendations with suggested changes to any proposals. If no public comment is submitted on a proposal it is placed on a consent agenda for the second public hearing (if it was approved by the committee) or it is no longer considered in the process (if it was disapproved by the committee).
  4. Second public hearing: At the second public hearing, stakeholders present their arguments to the ICC Governmental Member Representatives who will cast the final votes on all proposals. The large majority of these representatives are employees of city and county building departments. Others are from state governments. Federal government agencies, including DOE, can also vote. Only proposals which received public comments are discussed.
  5. Finalize new edition: After the hearing, the ICC representatives vote on each proposal, with all accepted changes entered into the new published edition of the IECC. States have the option to adopt the new codes or continue with their current codes.

DOE’s role: DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program is statutorily required to participate in the IECC code development process. DOE is one of many parties that submit code change proposals and participate in the review process; it has no special status. DOE submits a range of proposals that may include simple wording changes, advancements in required efficiency levels, and sometimes changes to the code’s structure or scope. All of DOE’s proposals are screened to be cost-effective based on its energy and cost analysis methodology.


How it works: ASHRAE created a committee that continuously maintains and updates its energy code for commercial buildings—called Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings—by developing, reviewing, and issuing addenda to the Standard. Every three years, ASHRAE collects all approved addenda and publishes a new edition of the code.

Here are the steps:

  1. The committee: ASHRAE assembles Standing Standards Project Committees (SSPCs) to oversee proposed modifications to its standards on continuous maintenance such as 90.1. These are stakeholder committees that include members from major interest groups. The committee chair makes recommendations on all applicants that are reviewed and approved by a committee that oversees all SSPCs called the Standards Project Liaison Subcommittee. SSPC meetings are open to the public and members of the public can participate during meetings at the discretion of the SSPC chair. All members of the public are encouraged to participate during the open public review process.
  2. Submit proposals: Standard 90.1 is a continuous maintenance standard to which anyone can submit proposed revisions at any time. To be released by ASHRAE for public review, proposals must receive a yes vote from 2/3 of those voting and 50% of the committee, as well as getting approval from the SPLS and the Illuminating Engineering Society, which is a co-sponsor of the process.
  3. Submit comments: During the public review period, which typically lasts 30 or 45 days, anyone from the public can submit comments on the proposed changes.
  4. Address comments: When public review concludes, the SSPC must make an attempt to resolve all public review comments, sometimes resulting in modification and additional rounds of public review.
  5. Finalize change: Once comments have been addressed and the commenters (if any) declare themselves resolved, the proposal is ready for publication. If there are unresolved commenters, the SSPC requires approval of 2/3 of those voting and 50% of the committee to publish the change with knowledge of unresolved objections.
  6. Finalize new edition: After an opportunity for appeals, ASHRAE publishes the approved addenda, and at the end of three years, all published addenda are compiled to create the next revision of the standard.

DOE’s role: DOE is also statutorily required to participate in the ASHRAE Standard 90.1 development process. DOE has voting and non-voting members on the SSPC. It provides analytical and technical support to the SSPC, developing and submitting its own addenda as well as analyzing other organizations’ proposed addenda when requested by the SSPC chairman.


Along with participating in the code development processes, DOE is also required by law (the Energy Conservation and Production Act, as amended (ECPA)) to issue a determination after each new edition of ASHRAE 90.1 or the IECC is published, as to whether the new edition will improve energy efficiency compared to the previous edition. DOE has one year to publish a determination in the Federal Register after each new edition of the standard/code is published. Following an affirmative determination by DOE, each state has obligations to review the new code. For the residential code, it must certify that it has reviewed the new code and determined whether it is appropriate to revise its current code; for the commercial code, it must certify that it has reviewed and updated the provisions of its code to meet the new code.


Repost with some modifications from, How Are Building Energy Codes Developed?, By David Cohan

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While the people who participate in the development process know energy codes inside and out, I know they are not as clear to the broader public. So let’s take a step back. Here’s a primer on what energy codes are, how they are developed, adopted, and enforced, and what U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) role is in these processes. Future blog posts in this series will zoom into specific topics.

First, here are a few key points:

  • Building codes are state laws. The U.S. does not have a national building code or energy code; instead, states or local governments can choose to adopt one of the national model energy codes, a modified version of the model code, or their own state-specific code.
  • Energy codes are just one of many building codes, such as fire, electrical, structural, or plumbing.
  • Energy codes are different than appliance and equipment standards. Energy codes cover the building itself—for example, the walls/floors/ceiling insulation, windows, air leakage, and duct leakage. Appliance and equipment standards cover the things that go into the buildings. However, there is some overlap, particularly in lighting.

Now, here are the three key primary components of the energy codes process and DOE’s role within them. It’s important to know that DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program is statutorily directed to participate in each of these phases.


How it works: National model energy codes are developed by two private organizations, ASHRAE and the International Codes Council. ASHRAE develops the model commercial energy code, known as 90.1. The International Code Council develops the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which contains chapters for both residential and commercial buildings. Any interested party can participate in the development processes by submitting proposals to change the code and commenting on others’ proposals. The codes cycle is continuous, with new codes being developed every three years. Final versions of each new edition are determined by a vote of the 90.1 committee members for ASHRAE and by the International Code Council membership for the IECC.

DOE’s role: DOE participates in both the ASHRAE and ICC development processes, but has no special status. DOE develops and submit code change proposals that strive to make cost-effective, energy efficient upgrades to current model codes. After each new model code is published, DOE also must determine if the new version saves energy relative to the old version.


How it works: Most codes are adopted at the state level, though, in about 10 states they are adopted by cities. State adoption can occur directly by legislative action, or through regulatory agencies authorized by the legislature. Cities adopt codes through their mayors, councils, or committees depending on their form of government. Once adopted, the code becomes law within the particular state or local jurisdiction.

DOE’s role: DOE provides technical assistance to state and local governments to support their adoption processes. DOE responds to state and local requests and it also develops customized reports for every state detailing the benefits of upgrading to the current model codes. To ensure that its information is used effectively, DOE works with the Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations (REEOs) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) who have connections in almost every state and often participate directly in the adoption processes. DOE support also includes tracking state adoption status, coordinating activities among stakeholders, and technical analysis.



How it works: The key to realizing the full savings potential of building energy codes is by ensuring that builders are complying with them. Design and construction professionals are most likely to comply with the code when they are given education and training, particularly after a new code is adopted. Enforcement is almost always done by building permit office staff at the local (city) level who typically review plans first to ensure they are compliant and then conduct field inspections to verify that the plans are being followed during construction.

DOE’s role: DOE develops and regularly updates software (REScheck and COMcheck) to simplify and clarify compliance with model energy codes and standards, as well as a number of state-specific energy codes. DOE also develops education and training materials that are available free and used by governments, organizations and trainers across the country.

DOE has also developed an affordable methodology for states and cities to determine energy and dollar savings opportunities associated with increased energy code compliance in single-family homes. Field studies based on the methodology have already been implemented in nine states with more underway. The data that comes from these studies helps focus education and training programs and provides a basis for utilities and states to determine whether such programs will be cost-effective. DOE is currently developing a parallel methodology for the commercial sector.

Check back next week for a more detailed look on how the codes development process works.

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In many parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, fuel poverty is at epidemic proportions.

Residential energy is eating up more than 30 percent of the total energy usage, leaving people with low incomes and those in the poorest communities trapped in a cycle of poverty. Unable to afford the capital to improve their old and poorly built housing, they have to sacrifice essentials such as food to pay their heating bills.

Habitat for Humanity is working with USAID to pioneer new ways to help communities overcome the legacy of poorly built, energy inefficient housing stock of multi-apartment buildings, and to create strong, stable and healthy communities for the future.

At the heart of Habitat for Humanity’s approach is creating an ‘ecosystem of stakeholders’ in which the challenges of ‘common space renovations’ and its financing are funded by appropriate loans. This approach also empowers local stakeholders to take action through their local housing associations or representative bodies.

This approach is being used in Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia. The projects in these countries have been highly successful at producing real improvements in energy efficiency and reducing energy bills, as well as enhancing social cohesion, comfort and health.

Habitat for Humanity is keen to work with more partners and funders to scale up this and other energy efficiency programs in Europe, the Middle East and African. Read more about the work.

How the Eco-System of retrofitting works in Eastern Europe (302.49 KB, PDF)



The Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-income Households project is one of the many assistance projects supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 1992, the American people through USAID have provided a broad range of development programs in Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, shifting from an initial humanitarian emphasis to assistance for economic, political and social transition.


Source: Habitat for Humanity

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A major factor in the rapid advancements in lighting in recent years has been the development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) technology. LEDs are quickly replacing incandescent bulbs and are great for saving energy as they are much more efficient and have a much longer lifespan. They are also significantly better than fluorescent lamps, with some of them able to produce more than 100 lumens per watt. For this reason, the LED market is predicted to grow substantially over the next 5 years, estimated to reach $25 billion in 2023.

Changing the Industry

LEDs offer unmatched energy and cost savings and their long life expectancy is over 4x’s more than other lighting technologies. They also don’t need a warm-up time and can be up to 85 percent more efficient than conventional bulbs. They are literally changing the entire landscape of the lighting industry. Because of their wide variety (and endless possibilities) of design styles, brightness levels (lumens), color (kelvin), and other characteristics, LEDs have moved lighting from an afterthought into a sophisticated design element of the modern home. Now, every aspect of lighting ‐‐ placement, function, control, style – can be designed to provide precisely what is needed in a particular room and for particular tasks, offering further opportunity for energy savings, convenience, homeowner comfort.

Back in 2016, U.S. Department of Energy estimated an annual savings of 5.1 quads by 2035, representing a 75% reduction in energy consumption, and resulting in cumulative savings of over $630 billion in avoided energy costs from 2015‐2035. Take a glimpse of what LEDs could mean for you:




100% LED $302.24 $60.45
50% 13W +
50% 40W
$791.08 $158.22 $97.77
50% 13W +
50% 60W
$1089.59 $217.92 $157.47
100% Incandescent $1791.11 $358.22 $297.77





100% LED 3132.60 626.52

50% 13W +
50% 40W
8030.95 1606.19 979.67
50% 13W +
50% 60W
11061.47 2212.29 1585.77
100% Incandescent 18184.63 3636.93 3010.41

Global Growth

The growing number of households and urbanization is one of the major trends being witnessed in the global LED market. The increase in urbanization is driving the installation of new lamps and LED luminaires which in turn, will lead to an increase in unit shipments and thereby revenue from LED products. In addition, rapid urbanization is driving governments of various countries to invest in large-scale urban infrastructure projects.

One of the key factors contributing to the growth of the global LED market is the declining manufacturing cost of LEDs. The manufacturing cost of LEDs has declined since 2012 and will continue to do so during the forecast period primarily because of the declining ASP of chips and components used in the manufacturing process. This is leading to a decrease in the installation costs of LED lamps and fixtures thereby driving the installation of new LED lamps and fixtures across all application segments.

LEDs & the Energy Code

Lighting efficiency standards have been included in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) since the 2009 edition, where the prescriptive compliance path called for 50% of bulbs and fixtures were to be “high efficacy.” Since first being introduced into the code, the lighting industry as a whole has experienced rapid advancements in technology that have increased efficiency levels, improved quality and durability, decreased costs, and now provides a wide variety of “high efficacy” lighting options. As a result, energy codes has advanced to reflect the current state of the industry. The 2009 IECC required 50% “high efficacy” bulbs and/or fixtures as a prescriptive requirement. Now, the 2015 IECC makes that 75% requirement MANDATORY!

LED lighting is one of the common options for meeting the “high efficacy” lighting requirements in the code, which also includes halogens, CFLs, and linear fluorescent bulbs. However, meeting “high efficacy” standards is not the only way LEDs help you with code compliance. Read more in Meeting Code With LEDs.


Learn more about LEDs and the energy code. Check out the reports below from Newport Ventures:

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Guza Architects

Green homes have come a long way in the last few decades, and building a green home is quickly shifting from an “alternative” way of building to the mainstream…and it’s only growing greener. In 2015 nearly one third of home builders (31%) report that they are currently doing green builds for more than 60% of their projects, and over half (51%) expect to be doing that level of green building work by the year 2020. In addition, over 80% of builders expect that by 2020 more than 16% of the homes they build will be green housing. Plus, in addition to new green homesthere continues to be enormous growth in the amount of green home remodelingwork that is being done too.

This is good news for builders who are looking to distinguish and grow their business in this expanding market. It’s also good news for people who are interested in building the home of their dreams as a net zero homeor certifiedgreen home, or just as a home with green home elements. With the expanding green home markets, there are a slew of options for consumers that improve the quality of their home, reduce energy costs, protect their health and have a decreased environmental impact.

It’s good news that the reported costs for green building new homes has gone down, even as more green building elements are being incorporated in homes. Builders report that the cost differential to go green is now 10%, as compared to 11% in 2006.

Dropping costs in green technology are helping to make green housing a popular investment and available to more and more homeowners. Indeed, many green home products and technology can now be purchased right in your local hardware store. Even well-known national homebuilders are beginning to offer green home options and choices for their home buyers. These green building concepts are being put to work for homebuyer customers at all price levels.

But the good news is that building a greener home does not mean you have to conform to the strictest requirements or make your new home Net Zero Energy(where it is so green that it produces more energy than it uses). You always can aim to continue to improve your home’s efficiency and environmental impact, while making choices that work in your budget today and make your home greener.

So if you’re planning to build a new home, here are some green home building ideas you may want to consider:

1. Build Smaller

No matter how green you build a large home; a smaller home with the same energy-efficient and eco-friendly construction techniques will have a smaller environmental impact. That doesn’t mean that you need to restrict yourself to building a humble cottage instead of an expansive dream home, but be thoughtful about how you use your space. Plan your home around your lifestyle, and keep the space manageable and cost effective. Think of square footage as an investment; put it where you want it most instead of expanding in every direction.

2. Go Solar

The sun is the ultimate source of clean, low-cost energy. When you build, you have a unique opportunity to plan for solar power use in a way that owners of older homes cannot. By making solar power native technology in your new home, you can take advantage of light and geography to get the most efficiency and energy for your investment. How you position your home on its lot and where you place solar panels can have a significant impact on the power you collect (evaluate the solar potential of your property and others using Google’s Project Sunroof website). Combined with other green building ideas, solar power can generate enough energy for you to start selling some back to your utility company. If that isn’t incentive enough, there also are grants, tax breaks and other government incentives related to the use of solar power in your home.

3. Cool Your Roof

The material used on your roof can make a dramatic difference in your home’s energy efficiency.  You may want to consider a product that reflects the sun’s energy away from the roof, cools faster at night and holds less heat for less time in order to help reduce energy costs and usage related to heat. Slate, terra cotta, white tiles, special membranes, and metal roofing are a few of the roofing products available with varying degrees of green benefits. There are many roofing options, and though the green options typically are more expensive – both in terms of materials and installation –  you’ll likely recoup the costs through energy savings, the longevity of the product and minimal maintenance required.

Green Home with plants as a living roof

We have to mention the “living roof”, because it’s just so…cool. Living roofs are constructed to hold plants that grow on the roof to catch and filter rainwater and will insulate the home. This also prevents roof water from running directly into the storm sewer system. While they’ve been used more frequently in commercial building, living roofs certainly can be incorporated into residential roofs.

4. Harness Geothermal Power

Geothermal power involves a substantial up-front investment, but with it, you have almost limitless energy with which to heat and cool your home. The earth itself becomes your heat sink with geothermal energy. During winter, heat moves from deep underground to your home’s HVAC system; in the summer, your AC removes excess heat and dissipates it underground using the same principle as a heat pump. Think of geothermal heating and cooling as a way to move heat instead of creating it through combustion.

5. Rely on Recycling

If you’ve ever wondered where old blue jeans and newspapers go, the answer might be as close as your walls. Total-fill insulation made from recycled materials pays off in the short term and the long run. Because you’re using recyclables, your initial material cost is often lower than it would be for virgin materials. You’re also saving money over time by using insulating products that perform as well or better than first-use insulation. Cotton, wool, wood pulp and soybean byproducts are a few of the materials you’ll find as spray-in or roll insulation.

There are many other recycled materials being used in green home building, such as reclaimed wood and countertops made from recycled glass, aluminum and even soda cans. You also may want to discuss with your builder options for using recycled steel or recycled wood/plastic composite, both of which are high quality, durable products that can reduce the amount of new lumber used in your home.

6. Use Sustainable Materials

From the frame of your home to the flooring inside it, sustainable building materials can reduce the impact of your construction on the environment. Wood is a renewable resource when you choose a supplier who follows sustainable planting practices. Flooring is one area where new products that are environmentally friendly and great for home insulation ratings and climate control efficiency are flourishing. Modern flooring of this sort includes bamboo, cork and linoleum, which is made of natural, renewable materials. More consumers, designers and builders are choosing linoleum as environmentally friendly flooring with a long lifespan — 25 to 40 years – and the ability to be completely recycled at the end of life.

7. Work with Your Land

If you design your home to take advantage of the surrounding landscape from the outset, you’ll enjoy easier, less expensive lawn care for the life of your home. If your property slopes, plan your planting to take advantage of its natural characteristics, planting water-loving willows in low areas and conifers on higher ground. Try xeriscaping, a landscaping technique that uses native plants and rock to minimize water use.

8. Focus on Water

Americans are becoming increasingly aware of fresh water consumption and conservation, and are taking further steps to reduce water consumption. Consider fixtures and appliances that conserve water such as low flow faucet aerators, tankless water heaters and Energy Star rated washers. There’s even a product on the market that automatically pauses your shower once the water has warmed up so that gallons of hot water aren’t wasted in an empty shower. Also consider capturing rainwater on your property. Before homes had running water, households often collected run-off in cisterns.  Collected rainwater can be used to fill water features, irrigate gardens and maintain landscapes.  Innovations in onsite water management technologies include using a rain garden in place of simply piping water off the property and as a natural way of filtering runoff in your yard.

9. “Energize” Windows in your Green Home

Energy Star windows are relatively new players in the window market, but they’ve quickly become rock stars. These aptly-named windows are government-rated as Energy Star products, and are much more energy-efficient windows than even the newer, double-pane models. Energy Star windows also greatly reduce sound transfer between outside and inside. The result? Heating and cooling costs drop and home values rise.

10. Take Thermostats to a New Level

Once only available in high-end homes, highly programmable thermostats are becoming the standard for new homes everywhere, as well as off-the-shelf upgrades being installed in existing homes. These high-tech thermostats can be programmed to adjust heating and cooling activities that take into account time of day, times when no one is home, vacations and more. This type of thermostat reduces your heating and cooling bills and saves the environment by reducing energy production. Furthermore, your HVAC system works more efficiently, meaning less wear-and-tear on the system and a longer life.

There are many, many green products and smart building options out there today that can add value to your home, decrease the home’s environmental impact and make your home perform better. In fact, as the market evolves the term “green homes” is being used alongside the term “high performance homes” to convey the efficiency and cost savings that are gained by the homeowner.

Ready to get started? Consult your builder, architect, landscaper, as well as your local home builders’ association – before building your home and throughout the process – to help you go green while building your own dream home or when building for your customers.



Resource:, Top 10 Green Home Building Ideas.

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A cool roof is one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. Nearly any type of building can benefit from a cool roof, but consider the climate and other factors before deciding to install one.

Just as wearing light-colored clothing can help keep you cool on a sunny day, cool roofs material that is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. Standard or dark roofs can reach temperatures of 150°F or more in the summer sun. A cool roof under the same conditions could stay more than 50°F cooler and save energy and money by using less air conditioning.

Benefits of Cool Roofs

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

  • Reducing energy bills by decreasing air conditioning needs
  • Improving indoor comfort for spaces that are not air conditioned, such as garages or covered patios
  • 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.


Types of Roofs and How They Can Be Made Cool

There are many types of roof systems available, but the surface exposed to the sun is the one that determines if a roof is cool or not. You can usually make a new or existing roof cool by selecting the appropriate surface.

Cool roof coatings are white or special reflective pigments that reflect sunlight. Coatings are like very thick paints that can protect the roof surface from ultra-violet (UV) light and chemical damage, and some offer water protection and restorative features. Products are available for most roof types.

Low Sloped Roofs

Single-ply membranes are pre-fabricated sheets rolled onto the roof and attached with mechanical fasteners, adhered with chemical adhesives, or held in place with ballast (gravel, stones, or pavers).

How they can be made cool: Reformulate or coat black membranes to make them reflective.

Built-up roofs consist of a base sheet, fabric reinforcement layers, and (usually) a dark protective surface layer.

How they can be made cool: The surface layer can be made different ways, and each has cool options:

  • Substitute reflective marble chips or gray slag for dark gravel in a flood coat of asphalt
  • Use reflective mineral granules or a factory-applied coating rather than a dark coating on a mineral surfaced sheet
  • Apply a cool coating directly on top of a dark asphaltic emulsion coating.

Modified bitumen sheet membranes have one or more layers of plastic or rubber material with reinforcing fabrics, and are surfaced with mineral granules or a smooth finish. These can also be used to surface a built-up roof—known as a “hybrid” roof.

How they can be made cool: Pre-coat with a cool roof coating at the factory.

Spray polyurethane foam roofs are constructed by mixing two liquid chemicals together that react and expand to form one solid piece that adheres to the roof. Foams are highly susceptible to mechanical, moisture, and UV damage, and rely on a protective coating.

How they can be made cool: The protective coatings are usually already reflective, and offer cool roof performance.

Photo Courtesy of Patrick Bulot

Steep Sloped Roofs

Shingle roofs consist of overlapping panels made from a variety of materials such as fiberglass asphalt, wood, polymers, or metals.

How they can be made cool: Buy cool asphalt shingles, which use specially coated granules that provide better solar reflectance. (Coating existing asphalt shingles to make them cool, however, is not normally recommended or approved by shingle manufacturers.) Other roof shingles can be coated at the factory or in the field to make them more reflective.

Tile roofs can be made of clay, slate, or concrete. Tiles can be glazed to provide waterproofing or coated to provide customized colors and surface properties.

How they can be made cool: Some are naturally reflective enough to achieve cool roof standards, and surface treatments can transform tiles with low solar reflectance into cool roof tiles.

Low and Steep Sloped Roofs

Metal roofs are available with natural metallic finishes, oven-baked paint finishes, or granular coated surfaces.

How they can be made cool: Unpainted metals are typically good solar reflectors but poor thermal emitters, so they rarely satisfy low slope cool roof requirements. Painting a metal roof can increase its solar reflectance and thermal emittance, allowing it to achieve cool roof status. Alternatively, you can apply cool reflective coatings.

Green Roofs

You may also consider installing a green roof. Green roofs are ideal for urban buildings with flat or shallow-pit roofs, and can include anything from basic plant cover to a garden. The primary reasons for using this type of roof include managing storm water and enjoying a rooftop open space.

Green roofs also provide insulation, lower the need for heating and cooling, and can reduce the urban heat island effect. This roof type can be much more expensive to implement than other efficient roof options, so you should carefully assess your property and consult a professional before deciding to install a green roof.


Deciding Whether to Install a Cool Roof

When deciding whether to install a cool roof, you’ll need to determine whether the cost will justify the energy savings. How much energy you will save depends on several factors such as your home’s climate and environment, how well insulated your current roof is, the type of roof you have, and the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

If you are building a new home, you can decide during the planning phase what type of roof to install and whether it should be a cool roof. If you want to convert an existing roof into a cool roof, you have three basic options:

  • Retrofit the roof with specialized heat-reflective material
  • Re-cover the roof with a new waterproofing surface (such as tile coating)
  • Replace the roof with a cool one.

If your roof is in poor condition or near the end of its life, it is usually best to re-cover, replace, or retrofit the roof.

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 several ways, including energy savings, rebates and incentives, HVAC equipment downsizing, and extended roof lifetime. One way to estimate how much energy you would save by installing a cool roof is by using the Cool Roof Calculator.

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, but can increase energy costs in colder climates due to reduced beneficial wintertime heat gains.

Moisture Control

In warm, moist locations, cool roof surfaces can be more susceptible to algae or mold growth than hot roofs. Some roof coatings include special chemicals that prevent mold or algae growth for a few years.

In cold climates, roofs can accumulate moisture through condensation, and it is possible that cool roofs might be more susceptible to accumulating moisture than dark roofs of the same design. Condensation can be avoided using proper design techniques.

Reposted from U.S. Department of Energy, Cool Roofs.


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Newport Partners, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home Program, had the privilege of recognizing the nation’s top builders at the 2018 DOE Housing Innovation Awards held at the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance’s High Performance Home Summit in San Diego, CA on October 16th, 2018. The DOE Housing Innovation Awards have honored the very best in innovation on the path to zero energy ready homes by recognizing forward-thinking builders who are delivering American homebuyers with a better homeowner experience. Explore these award-winning homes on the Tour of Zero.

Grand Winners represent the top entries from each of the six award categories previously announced by DOE, including: Affordable Homes (Nonprofit), Affordable Homes (For Profit), Multifamily Homes, Production Homes, Custom Homes (For Buyer), and Custom Homes (Spec). Winning builders provide substantial energy savings, total comfort, healthy living, peace-of-mind moisture protection, enhanced quality assurance, and future-ready construction.

“Housing Innovation Award Grand Winners are providing better homes, contributing to stronger communities and a more economically and environmentally resilient nation,” said Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Since 2013, the DOE Housing Innovation Awards have honored the very best in innovation on the path to zero energy ready homes by recognizing builders delivering American homebuyers a superior homeowner experience. Grand Winnersinclude:

  • Grand Winner for Innovation in Affordable Homes (For Profit): Thrive Home Builders, Denver Colorado
  • Grand Winner for Innovation in Affordable Homes (Nonprofit): Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Grand Winner for Innovation in Custom Homes (For Buyer): High Performance Homes, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • Grand Winner for Innovation in Custom Homes (Spec): Dwell Development, Seattle, Washington
  • Grand Winner for Innovation in Multifamily Homes: Revive Properties and Philgreen Construction, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Grand Winner for Innovation in Production Homes: Thrive Home Builders, Denver, Colorado
  • Winner for Most Homes Certified: Thrive Home Builders, Denver, Colorado

A complete list of the 2018 Housing Innovation Award Winners can be found on DOE’s website. View winning homes from previous years on the DOE Tour of Zero.

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