Solar-Reflective "Cool" Walls: Benefits, Technologies, and Implementation

Cool walls show comparable savings to cool walls

Project Overview

Recipient: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $2,500,000

Co-funded Amount: $610,800

Agreement Number: EPC-14-010

Project Term: 3/30/2015 - 6/30/2018

Project Status: Active

Recipient Location:  Berkeley, CA

The Issue

Increasing the albedo (solar reflectance) of a building's envelope reduces solar heat gain in the cooling season. Raising envelope albedo can also cool the outside air, boosting energy savings and demand reduction by decreasing the air temperature difference across the building envelope. Lowering urban surface and air temperatures improves air quality by slowing the reactions that produce smog, and delays global warming through negative radiative forcing ("global cooling"). Current data are insufficient to accurately predict savings impacts for different cool wall materials; which prevents cool wall technology from being included in building standards or utility rebate programs.

Project Innovation

This project (a) quantifies the energy savings, peak demand reduction, urban cooling, and air quality improvements attainable from cool walls in California; (b) assesses the performance of existing cool wall technologies, develops innovative cool wall solutions, and (c) facilitates collaboration among government agencies, utilities, and industry to create a cool-wall infrastructure that includes application guidelines, a product rating program, incentives, and building code credits.

Project Benefits

The project is advancing scientific knowledge by quantifying the potential benefits of cool walls, assessing the performance of existing and prototype cool wall technologies, and developing innovative cool wall solutions. High wall albedo can be attained with a reflective coating (e.g., paint or stucco) or cladding. Cool wall products available today include light-colored paints that reflect up to 80% of sunlight when new, but may lose reflectance as they soil; and darker cool colored paints that come in a wide palette, but typically reflect less than 50% of sunlight when new. This project will provide information to building owners, facility managers, and the paint industry on the direct and indirect energy and environmental benefits of solar reflecting walls, assessing and advancing available and emerging cool wall tech

Lower Costs: Solar-reflective cool walls reduce absorption of sunlight by the building envelope, which may decrease cooling load in warm weather and increase heating load in cool weather. Impacts of cool walls on a annual HVAC energy use depend on climate, wall construction, wall orientation and other factors. Decreasing cooling load will directly reduce customer bills for air conditioning. It could also reduce electricity generation capacity procurement costs when incorporated into the Load Forecast. Project results show that cool walls can reduce whole-building annual HVAC energy use 3.0% to 25% in single-family homes, 0.5% to 3.7% in medium offices, and 0.0% to 9.0% in stand-alone retail store.

Environmental Benefits: By reducing space conditioning load, annual fossil power plant emissions could be reduced, with consequent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as well as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

Public Health: Reduced electrical load would lower the risks of grid failure and potential loss of air conditioning, and morbidity/mortality on hot, sunny days. Cool walls will also reduce urban air temperatures, helping mitigate extreme heat events and improving air quality.




Project Overview

Recipient: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $2,500,000

Co-funded Amount: $610,800

Agreement Number: EPC-14-010

Project Term: 3/30/2015 - 6/30/2018

Project Status: Active

Recipient Location:  Berkeley, CA

Project Team

CEC Project Manager: David Hungerford

Recipient Contact: Ronnen Levinson

Match Partner(s): _3M; BEHR; Metal Construction Association; PPG Industries; Saint-Gobain; Sherwin Williams; Tex-Cote; Valspar

Subcontractor(s): University of Southern California; The Regents of the University of California, San Diego


 

 

For questions or additional information, please email RandDProjectinfo@energy.ca.gov

  • Commercial Businesses
  • Empower California
  • Energy Providers
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Governments
  • Home and Communities
  • Industrial Facilities
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Water

  • Combined Heat and Power
  • Demand Response
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Environment and Climate Change Research
  • Market Acceleration
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Renewable Energy
  • Smart Grid
  • Storage
  • Transportation

  • Bay Area
  • Central Coast
  • North State
  • Sacramento Valley
  • San Joaquin Valley
  • South Coast Region
  • Southeast Interior

  • Electric Program Investment Charge
  • Natural Gas RD&D Program