Projects: Cool Cars

We conducted a cool cars experiment for the CEC in which we studied the difference in heat flux through a car's roof. We found that the interior of a light-shelled car stayed cooler than that of the dark-shelled car. (Image courtesy of Heat Island Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Car shells have varying solar reflectance and thermal emittance values depending on the color and material. (Image courtesy of Heat Island Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Cool Cars

Over 95% of the cars and small trucks sold in California have air conditioners. The use of air conditioning (A/C) in cars increases fossil fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. This project aims to reduce A/C usage by lowering cabin air temperatures.

The Cool Cars Project, sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC), investigates the benefits of using solar reflective cars. By reflecting more sunlight than dark cars, a cool car shell reduces the amount of heat that is transferred into the car’s interior. This results in decreased cabin air temperatures along with associated reductions in air conditioning, fuel consumption, and emissions of greenhouse gases and urban air pollutants.


Ronnen Levinson
Principal Investigator
(510) 486-7494
George Ban-Weiss
(510) 486-4931

Related Publications






Sailor, David J., and Hashem Akbari. Meteorological modeling applications in building energy simulations In 1992 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Proceedings of the ACEEE 1992 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Pacific Grove, CA, 1992.