Commercial Painting Contractors

How Paint Can Impact Energy Efficiency

  • As a commercial facility manager, it’s important to take every step you can to increase energy efficiency and reduce the operating costs for your building. While we often think of HVAC and lighting improvements as the big-ticket upgrades, it’s important not to overlook the role of commercial paint.

    What are “Cool Roofs” and “Cool Walls”?

    You wouldn’t wear all black in the middle of a sunny and hot summer day, right? It’s commonly known that dark colors absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect light that can cause temperatures to rise. That’s the same common knowledge behind the growing trend of “cool roofs” on commercial buildings.

    According to the Department of Energy: “Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. Standard or dark roofs can reach temperatures of 150°F or more in the summer sun. A cool roof under the same conditions could stay more than 50°F cooler and save energy and money by using less air conditioning.”

    While there’s no formal definition for cool walls, they embrace the same concept and can work in tandem with cool roofs. While there are no special paint coatings that make a wall or roof cool, lighter colors can be used to reflect light. Many large facilities are prime candidates for cool roofs and walls, including warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing centers, office buildings, and retail stores. 

    Older commercial buildings especially can see huge benefits from cool roofs and cool walls. These buildings may not be able to withstand a cost-efficient renovation for energy efficiency, and building code for structures built before 1980 didn’t require insulation — something that’s crucial for temperature management. Studies show that these buildings saw energy savings 3x-5x greater when cool walls and roofs were implemented.

    Benefits of Cool Roofs and Cool Walls

    Cool roofs can reduce the interior temperature of a building, making it easier and helping to lower cooling costs. They can also diminish the “heat island” effect by lowering temperatures in the area where the building is located. Cold storage and self-storage properties, where temperature control is key and HVAC usage is high, opt for cool roofs and cool walls as well. Cool wall and roof paint treatments also resist UV fading, which translates into fewer repairs and longevity that can prevent costly replacements. 

    The cost-savings have been proven through research:

    “Researchers analyzed more than 100,000 building simulations and found that in climate 1A to 4B, cool walls could save 4.6 percent of annual HVAC costs for medium-sized office buildings and up to 11 percent for stand-alone retail stores. The study accounted for both energy savings in the cooling season and elevated energy costs in the heating season.”

    Types of Cool Wall and Cool Roof Coatings

    Recall some of the most iconic images of homes in the Mediterannean with white walls. As stylish as it looks, this color choice was also made to beat back the sun and heat — white paint reflects around 80% of visible light. Other light hues can do the same although not at the same rate. This strategy has been used for generations, but now there have been innovative new tools developed to help increase energy efficiency even more.

    Now there is a range of paint products and exterior coatings that offer solar reflection and cooling features. They come in a range of colors (beyond white and pastels) that can help your building stand apart or complement your logo or branding. These coatings are as durable as traditional commercial exterior paint coatings and don’t require specialized technical knowledge for maintenance.

    Like with any commercial exterior paint upgrade, adding cool roof and wall coatings to your building needs to be tackled by a team of professionals. The team at SmithPro has experience with these products and the tools needed to get the job done right. They’ll be able to talk you through options, budgets, and timelines, and will make necessary repairs before the application of cool wall or roof paint.

    If you’ve noticed that your commercial building’s energy costs are rising or your organization is looking to reduce its environmental impact, get in touch with us to chat more about cool roof and wall paint for energy efficiency.

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