Is a Cool Roof Right for You?

Is a Cool Roof Right for You?

Find Out with MAPC’s New Tool and Assessment

Written by Colleen Shortell, Clean Energy and Climate Planning Intern, and Julia Nassar, Clean Energy and Climate Planner II

June 25, 2024 - Are you interested in cool roofs but aren’t sure if your building could benefit from one? MAPC has a tool that can help! Building owners and managers can now use MAPC’s Cool Roof Site Suitability Tool and Self-Assessment to determine if a cool roof is feasible and beneficial for their buildings.1

Site Suitability Tool

The Suitability Tool is an online map that allows Metro Mayors municipalities and property owners to identify opportunities for cool roof retrofits. The tool defines suitability as low-sloped (flat) buildings with dark-colored roofs. These two criteria are used because 1) low-sloped roofs simplify the installation process, making it easier to coat the roof with reflective materials, and 2) dark-colored roofs tend to be hotter due to lower solar reflectivity and higher thermal emittance, so the conversion to a cool roof can significantly reduce heat.

Cool roofs reflect more sunlight than traditional, dark-colored roofs. They can help combat the urban heat island effect by absorbing less heat to keep buildings and surrounding areas cooler. In doing so, cool roofs can lower energy costs, reduce indoor temperatures, and improve thermal comfort for residents, property owners, and communities.

Check out MAPC’s Cooling Down the Metro Mayors Region: the Basics & Benefits of Cool Roofs for more information on cool roofs!

Users can then subset buildings by filtering through various building characteristics, such as roof typology, land use, and ownerships (e.g., municipal buildings, duplexes, etc.), and socio-environmental variables layers (e.g., environmental justice communities or buildings within the hottest 20% of areas in the municipality).

Who Should Use This Tool?

  • Building owners / managers can use this tool to determine if their building is a suitable candidate for a cool roof.
  • Roofers can use this tool to assess if the building they are working on is suitable for a cool roof.
  • Municipal planners can use this tool to explore the potential of cool roofs on public buildings and to target neighborhood blocks for heat-mitigation strategies, such as a cool roof incentive program.
A screenshot of MAPC's Cool Roof Site Suitability Tool. The map shows part of Arlington with various shades of red, yellow, and orange, and a side bar of option to filter the view.

Using This Tool: Select your municipality in the top-left box. From there, filter by the various suitability criteria. Selections will automatically be applied to narrow down potential cool roof sites.            

Suitability Self-Assessment

The Suitability Tool serves as a first step in evaluating the potential of a cool roof for your building. As a next step, the Suitability Self-Assessment provides further assistance to building owners and managers to determine if a cool roof would benefit their property. Users answer a short list of yes or no questions based on site-specific characteristics, including roof age, building insulation, demand for cooling, and AC status. They receive additional considerations and guidance on evaluating if a cool roof is both feasible and beneficial for their property.

If after exploring these tools, you realize cool roofs really are as cool as you thought, you can learn more with
MAPC’s Educational Toolkit before reaching out to a contractor.