Sep 05, 2015

Heat Reflective Paints

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Reflective coatings can really boost energy efficiency in hot climate zonesMany types of specialized heat reflective paints are on the market today. These coatings are very popular in hot climates like the southwestern U.S. as well as Australia, Dubai and China. When properly applied, these coatings can reduce the amount of heat that penetrates the building. By reducing the amount of heat that enters the building, the load on the air conditioner is reduced thereby increasing the energy efficiency of a building. So here's an overview of the basics behind this technology.

These thermally emissive/reflective coatings offer a range of applications such as on roofs and walls of buildings. These coatings will adhere to a variety of materials such as composite roof shingles, metal roofs, and concrete tile roofs as well as stucco, plywood, and concrete block walls. Manufacturers offer a wide assortment of formulations. So be sure to read the spec sheet and get the correct type before application. When considering thermally emissive/reflective cool coatings be sure to look for metal oxide and infra-red emissive pigments. These ingredients are necessary to block ultra violet rays and reflect infrared radiation.


Heat reflective coatings that have met the standards of the Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) can qualify for LEED credit. This credit is available for new construction and existing building LEED projects. The purpose of this credit is to promote the reduction of the heat island effect, which is a known cause of increased temperatures and pollution in urban areas. In addition, for buildings in the state of California, many of these products exceed the state’s Title 24 energy efficiency requirements of 70% solar reflectance for commercial and residential buildings.


It is important to note that a thermally emissive/reflective coating is not meant to insulate. Insulation is used to slow the transfer of heat. Thermally reflective coatings are used to reflect the heat. If the reflective coating is doing its job, the demand on insulation decreases. This assistance is similar to radiant barriers.


A common misconception is that heat reflective coatings, such as cool walls and cool roofs, can only be found in light colors. However, thermally reflective coatings are offered in a variety of colors to suit design specifications. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory offers a Pigment Database for more detailed information. Generally, lighter colors do offer a higher level of thermal reflectance though a quick review of the database reveals many viable options.


It is important to realize that there are many ways to achieve energy efficiency in both new and existing buildings. A multitude of aftermarket options exist and sorting them can be a daunting task. It may be advantageous to do a complete building assessment before settling on any one solution. Each building has a unique set of circumstances and some may require only simple solutions to achieve a high level of energy efficiency. Feel free to contact us, we’re here to help.


  • Comment Link Lenin Sundararajan Thursday, 15 September 2011 00:29 posted by Lenin Sundararajan


    Such thermally emissive coatings also help in reducing the ambient temperature of the city by about 2 degrees esp. in tropical climates, if even half of the concrete buildings are coated. This reduction allows for significant savings on cooling costs.

  • Comment Link Nicolas Albrow Friday, 13 April 2012 00:36 posted by Nicolas Albrow

    As is so often the case we can learn from nature here as well.

    Zebra's reduce their surface temperature by more than seventeen degrees Fahrenheit with the air currents produced by the different heat absorption rates of the black and white stripes.

    The Daiwa House office building in Sendai, Japan uses this same logic, alternating surface heat absorption rates, to control the temperature of the building's exterior. This in turn reduces internal temperatures enough to save (so they claim) around 20% of energy in space cooling.

    As energy efficiency consultants we at echome have yet to test the efficacy of such a measure, indeed it doesn't make as much sense in the temperate climate we have here in London, but it certainly shows what can be learnt from millions of years of evolution.

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