The expansive, flat roof of a California retail store, covered in dark roofing material, bakes in the hot, July, mid-day sun.Sacramento, California – July 18, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The temperature of the roof rises: 150 degrees, 160 degrees, 170 degrees … up to a scorching 190 degrees Fahrenheit on hot summer days, taxing air conditioning systems and the already overburdened California power grid. In fact, almost a third of the electricity used on a hot summer afternoon in California is used to keep buildings cool because of the absorption of solar energy on the surfaces of roofs and rooftop ducts. Enter the Cool Savings with Cool Roofs Program (formerly the Cool Roof Retrofit Program), overseen by the California Energy Commission (CEC), designed to provide incentives to reduce the peak electricity demand from air conditioning systems. Administered on behalf of the CEC by four Regional Administrators, the program provides rebates ranging from 15 cents to 20 cents per square foot of eligible roofing to businesses and other entities that replace or resurface their old “hot” roofs with new, light-colored, energy-conserving cool roofs. Several national retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Target and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse have taken advantage of the system to reduce energy needs while benefiting financially as well. The idea behind cool roofs is simple – dark colors absorb more heat than light-colored materials. As a result, a traditional dark roof absorbs over 70 percent of the energy radiating down from the sun. Light, reflective, cool roofs are, on average, 50 to 60 degrees cooler than darker roofs. Cool roof technology can reduce electricity consumption in any one building by an average of 20 percent. Since most commercial buildings in California have low-sloped or flat roofs that are ideal for cool roof applications, cool roofs are among the most cost effective investments in energy efficiency that any business can make. “Anything we can do to save energy is important because we want to deliver the lowest possible price on the products we offer to consumers,” said Mark Seymore, a senior project manager with Sears. “Programs such as cool roofs are a win-win, both for Sears and for the state.” While the stores benefit immediately from the installation of cool roofs through lower electricity costs, the rebate program increases that benefit. Wal-Mart is on target to receive rebate checks of US$26,400 and US$23,433 for two stores in Corona; Sears has already received rebate checks of US$21,245 and US$13,256 for stores in Burbank and San Diego; and Target has received an US$8,776 rebate check for a store in Rosemead and has a US$20,925 rebate pending for a store in Pico Riveria. Lowe’s has already been issued rebates totaling over US$200,000 for stores in such locations as Roseville, Vacaville, San Clemente, Anaheim, Upland and Burbank. “California’s Cool Savings with Cool Roofs Program makes us more competitive, while reinforcing our company’s history of good corporate citizenship,” said Robin Nickles, Lowe’s vice president of retail facilities management. Cool Roof Coatings are light-colored (often white) surface treatments best applied to flat roofs in good condition. With the consistency of thick paint, these coatings have additives that improve their adhesion, durability and resistance to dirt, algae and fungus. “Cementitious” coatings have cement particles, while “elastomeric” coatings contain polymers to improve adhesion and reduce brittleness. Both generally range in cost from US$0.75 to US$1.50 per square foot. Cool, single-ply roofing is a light-colored roofing product that is applied as a single sheet in a single layer. Single plys come in a variety of materials and are a good choice for a new flat roof or a flat roof that requires extensive repair. Their cost generally varies from US$1.50 to US$3.00 per square foot. In addition to energy savings and reduced electricity demand during summer peaks, cool roofs offer other benefits to business owners and the community at large: -Decreased long-term roofing maintenance and replacement costs; -Extended life of air conditioning units due to less cycling and operations; -Improved comfort for workers in buildings and on the roof; -Reduced air temperatures surrounding the cool building, reducing the “heat island” effect. -Less roofing waste in local landfills – currently, 11 million tons of roofing material ends up in landfills annually in the US.