Cool roofs as an energy conservation measure for federal buildings

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We have developed initial estimates of the potential benefits of cool roofs on federal buildings and facilities (building scale) as well as extrapolated the results to all national facilities under the administration of the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). In addition, a spreadsheet "calculator" is devised to help FEMP estimate potential energy and cost savings of cool roof projects. Based on calculations for an average insulation level of R-11 for roofs, it is estimated that nationwide annual savings in energy costs will amount to $16M and $32M for two scenarios of increased roof albedo (moderate and high increases), respectively. These savings, corresponding to about 3.8 percent and 7.5 percent of the base energy costs for FEMP facilities, include the increased heating energy use (penalties) in winter. To keep the cost of conserved energy (CCE) under $0.08 kWh-1 as a nationwide average, the calculations suggest that the incremental cost for cool roofs should not exceed $0.06 ft-2, assuming that cool roofs have the same life span as their non-cool counterparts. However, cool roofs usually have extended life spans, e.g., 15-30 years versus 10 years for conventional roofs, and if the costs of re-roofing are also factored in, the cutoff incremental cost to keep CCE under $0.08 kWh-1 can be much higher. In between these two ends, there is of course a range of various combinations and options.

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