Innovation That Matters

Samples of the temperature-adaptive radiative coating. The material looks like Scotch tape and can be affixed to a rooftop | Photo source Thor Swift/Berkeley Lab

Researchers develop smart roof coating for better energy saving

Property & Construction

The groundbreaking technology keeps houses warm during the winter and cool during summer

Spotted: Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new smart roof coating designed to serve all seasons. The coating keeps houses warm during the winter and cool during summer – without using natural gas or electricity.

Existing cool roof systems use light-coloured surfaces to reflect sunlight. But these systems also expel some of the absorbed solar heat as thermal-infrared radiation, and this means that they continue to radiate heat during winter, leading to more heating costs.

The new material—called a ‘temperature-adaptive radiative coating’ (TARC)— enables energy savings by automatically turning off the radiative cooling in the winter.

In a recent study, researchers estimated TARC’s energy savings across 100,000 building energy simulations across the US. The simulation took into consideration how other roof materials would perform throughout the year. The research examined 15 different cities representing different climate zones.

The findings revealed that TARC outperformed existing roof coatings for energy saving in 12 of the 15 climate zones. The best results were in regions with wide temperature fluctuations between day and night, or between seasons.

According to the researchers, TARC reflects around 75 per cent of sunlight year-round, and promotes heat loss when the ambient temperature is above 25 degrees celsius.

Next up the researchers plan to develop the prototypes’ performance on a larger scale.

The thermal efficiency of buildings is an important area of innovation in the race to net zero. At Springwise, we have previously spotted smart windows, and a smart ventilation system. These also aim to better regulate heat loss from buildings.

Written By: Katrina Lane

Email: ipo@lbl.gov

Website: lbl.gov

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