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Scientists Develop All-Season Smart Roof Coating


By Dan Hounsell Roofing
roof coating white roof

Scientists with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division have developed an all-season smart roof coating that keeps homes warm during the winter and cool during the summer without consuming natural gas or electricity. Research findings point to a groundbreaking technology that outperforms commercial cool-roof systems in energy savings. 

“Our all-season roof coating automatically switches from keeping you cool to warm, depending on outdoor air temperature,” says Junqiao Wu, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and a UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering who led the study. “This is energy-free, emission-free air conditioning and heating, all in one device.” 

Cool roof systems, such as reflective coatings, membranes, shingles, and tiles, have light-colored or darker cool-colored surfaces that cool buildings by reflecting sunlight. These systems also emit some of the absorbed solar heat as thermal-infrared radiation. In this natural process known as radiative cooling, thermal-infrared light is radiated away from the surface. The problem with many cool-roof systems currently on the market is that they continue to radiate heat in the winter, which drives up heating costs, Wu says. 

“Our new material – called a temperature-adaptive radiative coating or TARC – can enable energy savings by automatically turning off the radiative cooling in the winter, overcoming the problem of overcooling,” he says.

Dan Hounsell is senior editor, facility group.

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