First Advisor

David Sailor

Date of Publication

Fall 1-16-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical and Materials Engineering




Roofs -- Thermal properties -- Oregon -- Portland -- Evaluation, Roofs -- Thermal properties -- Arizona -- Phoenix -- Evaluation, Roofing -- Energy conservation -- Oregon -- Portland -- Evaluation, Roofing -- Energy conservation -- Arizona -- Phoenix -- Evaluation



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 51 pages)


Highly reflective roofing systems have been analyzed over several decades to evaluate their ability to meet sustainability goals, including reducing building energy consumption and mitigating the urban heat island. Studies have isolated and evaluated the effects of climate, surface reflectivity, and roof insulation on energy savings, thermal load mitigation and also ameliorating the urban heat island. Other sustainable roofing systems, like green-roofs and solar panels have been similarly evaluated. The motivation for the present study is twofold: the first goal is to present a method for simultaneous evaluation and inter-comparison of multiple roofing systems, and the second goal is to quantitatively evaluate the realized heating and cooling energy savings associated with a white roof system compared to the reduction in roof-top heat flux.

To address the first research goal a field experiment was conducted at the International Harvester Building located in Portland, OR. Thermal data was collected for a white roof, vegetated roof, and a solar panel shaded vegetated roof, and the heat flux through these roofing systems was compared against a control patch of conventional dark roof membrane. The second research goal was accomplished using a building energy simulation program to determine the impact of roof area and roof insulation on the savings from a white roof, in both Portland and Phoenix. The ratio of cooling energy savings to roof heat flux reduction from replacing a dark roof with a white roof was 1:4 for the month of July, and 1:5 annually in Portland. The COP of the associated chillers ranges from 2.8-4.2, indicating that the ratio of cooling energy savings to heat flux reduction is not accounted for solely by the COP of the chillers. The results of the building simulation indicate that based on energy savings alone, white roofs are not an optimal choice for Portland. The benefits associated with cooling energy savings relative to a black roof are offset by the winter-time penalty, and the net benefit from adopting white roof technology in Portland is small. That said, there are other potential benefits of white roofing such as impact on urban heat islands and roof life that must also be considered.


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