​A Cool Roof Experiment with Frederik Bauer

A Cool Roof Experiment

As with our clients and peers in the A/E/C community, ABA is greatly concerned about climate change and the critical need for action. We therefore strive to help clients make good decisions not only in context of specific project needs but in consideration of the natural environment and our human impact on the planet. LEED Gold projects such San Jose Public Library’s Educational Park Branch and the Tidewater Community College / City of Virginia Beach Joint-Use Library are one demonstration of our sustainable work, as are projects such as Ohlone College’s LEED Platinum Academic Core Buildings (completed in partnership with CannonDesign) and Net Zero-ready, LEED Gold CSU East Bay CORE Building (completed in partnership with Carrier Johnson + CULTURE).

But making a positive difference on the environment, and helping to mitigate the impacts of climate, isn’t always about the grand gestures. Oftentimes, smaller interventions are enough to make a difference. An example comes from ABA’ Technical Leader, Frederick Bauer. Recognizing that the lack of reflective surface in black roofs/shingles, and that asphalt shingles deteriorate faster under the Sun’s UV light, he conducted an experiment to see for himself what impact a white roof coating would have on his house.


What impact does a white coating have on a non-air-conditioned space with black asphalt roof shingles?


  • 1.Apply 1 layer of white cool roofing coating to cover a portion of the roof. This creates two test areas exposed to the same sunlight conditions at the same time.
  • 2.Measure surface temperature readings on consecutive days at both the coated and uncoated portions of the roof, taking measurements at various times and locations on both interior and exterior surfaces. This helps study the build-up as heat from the exterior slowly penetrates through the back vented roof assembly to the interior.
  • 3.AC was not in use, as it could have impacted the experiment’s measurements.


Looking at afternoon temperature measurements, when the ambient temperature was 95 F, results demonstrated a clear difference between coated and uncoated surfaces on the exterior surface.

Uncoated vs coated roof areas

The empirical conclusion is clear: coatings such as these really do help reduce heat gain and active cooling requirements, while not adding any weight to the roof. Crucially, Frederick’s experiment demonstrates that these coatings put energy savings within reach of most people: his project cost was $260 for approximately 550 square feet for a 2 -coat application of Henry Enviro White Acrylic Coating (which comes with a 12-year warranty).

And it goes to show that thinking about sustainability – and, more importantly, taking action – doesn’t have to be overwhelming as we amplify our efforts to be better environmental stewards.

Posted April 7, 2023

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