Evaluating effectiveness of white roofs in northern climates


The use of white, reflective roofing materials throughout the United States has grown in popularity in recent years, but are these assemblies really ideal for all locations?

When specifying roofing material color for a northern climate, it is important to be aware color is only one component of a roof system. The major contributor to energy savings in a roof assembly, rather, is the level of insulation used.

A roofing system should be determined during the design process based on geographic location, occupancy, service life, and level of insulation. Cool, reflective roof materials are better-suited for southern climates, while darker-colored roof materials perform well in northern climates. Combining the geographically appropriate roof color with the optimal R-value of insulation should result in an energy-efficient, sustainable roof.