Better Building Initiative

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Better Building Initiative

Wed, 31 Aug 2011

A multipronged effort designed to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy-efficient during the next decade was recently introduced.  By engaging and empowering the private sector, the presidential administration hopes to encourage investments for the upgrade of offices, stores, schools, and municipal facilities, as well as universities, hospitals and other commercial buildings. 

Specifically, the initiative aims to:

  • Achieve a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020
  • Reduce companies' and business owners' energy bills by about $40 billion per year
  • Save energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act.  

Roof system performance is one of the most significant opportunities to increase building energy efficiency.  There are three times as many re-roofs and retrofits than there are new roof installs on new buildings, giving the current commercial roofing market the ability to accelerate energy savings much faster than new construction. 


The Department of Energy is currently working with congress to redesign the current tax deduction for commercial building upgrades into a credit that is more generous.  The hope is to inspire building owners to retrofit their properties.  For more info on the tax incentives visit the DOE.

Cool Roofing

Cool roofing is not a new concept. In the mid-1980s, researchers at DOE national laboratories in Tennessee and California were measuring the energy-saving benefits of “solar radiation control coatings” on test roofs. Although energy savings were confirmed in these early studies, they were not sufficient to lead roofing designers and installers to switch away from traditional dark-colored roofing systems.

A parallel effort was launched to determine the influence of light-colored roofing products on summer urban heat islands. This research demonstrated that solar reflective roofs, solar reflective pavements, and vegetation could lower urban air temperatures, saving additional energy and improving air quality.  Twenty years after DOE initiated its work on cool roofs, these products started to dominate the commercial roofing marketplace in warm and hot climates.  Cool choices now exist for most traditional roofing materials and should be considered whenever construction or an energy retrofit is being planned.  To learn more about the types and benefits of cool roofing visit the cool roofing section of our website.

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