2009 - [Sustainable Concepts] Cool Roofs and Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling
2009, vol. 77
Welcome to the August 2009 newsletter from Design
Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's
Quote of the Month: "The activist is not the man who
says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who
cleans up the river."
Lisa A. Swan
Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling Challenge Using 60 Percent
- Coolerado unit beat 2010 DOE efficiency standard
by 60 percent
- Cooling capacity increases as outside temperature
- wo-year payback possible through energy savings,
utility rebates and tax incentives
University of California, Davis issued a challenge
to manufacturers to build more efficient air conditioners
for the Western U.S. The objective was to exceed
the 2010 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards
by an aggressive 40 percent. Coolerado Corporation,
the first certified winner of the UC Davis Western
Cooling Challenge, entered the program with its
new hybrid commercial rooftop unit - a system using
its proprietary indirect evaporative technology
in concert with a traditional compressor and refrigerant
system. DOE laboratory testing indicates that Coolerado's
new system, the Coolerado H80, beat the 2010 standards
by 60 percent at peak demand and will use 80 percent
less energy overall.
Testing revealed that the new H80 also has the Coolerado
signature; cooling capacity increases as outside
temperature increases - not typical of other systems.
Eric Kozubal, senior mechanical engineer at the
DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, conducted
the testing and said, "In western climates, the
Coolerado H80 provides cooling and ventilation for
buildings at efficiency far above standard equipment
available today. Laboratory testing shows that the
H80 provides consistent cooling performance even
when temperatures rise above 95 degrees."
"The UC Davis challenge also targeted water conservation,
limiting water use for technologies that use evaporation
as part of the cooling process," said Mark Modera,
director of the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency
Center. "The water allowance in the challenge was
set such that water used at the air conditioner
should be mitigated by the savings in water required
to produce less power. DOE/NREL determined that
the water use for the Coolerado H80 is less than
the objective set by UC Davis and is about the same
amount of water that will be used to generate electricity
for a traditional air conditioner meeting the new
DOE 2010 standard."
The H80 is the first system Coolerado is offering
that includes dehumidification, recirculation and
an option for heating. The H80 delivers over five
tons of air conditioning at 105 degrees Fahrenheit,
which is equivalent to larger traditional systems
that lose capacity as outside temperatures climb.
In some extreme operating conditions and climates,
the Coolerado H80 will deliver as much cooling as
an eight-ton conventional system and will have an
Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) over 20.
Coolerado began taking H80 orders in August for
delivery late this year and is currently building
several units which will be delivered to Australia
for installation during its cooling season (December).
Customers may expect to realize a two-year payback
on the price of the H80 through energy savings,
utility rebates and tax incentives.
The unit that was initially tested at the DOE lab
in Golden, Colorado is operational on a building
at a college in Sacramento, California. The Sacramento
Municipal Utility District (SMUD) will be monitoring
the energy savings of the unit during the next several
Article & Picture © coolerado.com
on "Coolerado Hybrid A/C Wins Cooling Challenge
Using 60 Percent Less Energy" on Lisa's Blog
Running Down on First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit
According to a news report by the National Association
of Home Builders (NAHB), the clock running down
on the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers
and less than four months to go, builders are urging
qualified prospective buyers to start the sales
process long before the Nov. 30 deadline.
Faulty appraisals that have been using foreclosed
properties as comparables for new homes have been
slowing down the sales process in many instances,
builders warn, creating hiccups in the financing
stage that can often push the closing date much
later than originally expected.
First-time buyers should also anticipate tighter
lending standards that generally don't allow 100%
financing, making buyers responsible for coming
up with enough money prior to their purchase to
meet required downpayment and closing costs.
For these two reasons alone, young families considering
becoming home owners should be advised to start
the process long before they put a bid on a new
home. As part of that effort, builders can provide
key educational information on the home buying process
- including financing and closing - that their customers
need to ensure that they occupy their new home in
time to claim the tax credit.
Assistance on Upfront Costs Available in 16 States
For home buyers who need assistance with downpayment
and closing costs, some state housing finance agencies
are able to provide a short-term loan based on the
home buyer's qualification for the federal tax credit.
Sixteen state housing finance agencies - in Colorado,
Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts,
Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia - are
participating in loan programs to help facilitate
home sales for first-time home buyers in their area.
Each state is different and qualifications and restrictions
vary among the programs.
Home buyers should be warned, however, that there
are organizations or individuals who are providing
this service who are not legally permitted to do
so. If the organization is a unit of state government,
such as a state housing finance agency, it is safe
to say that it is reputable. Otherwise, a home buyer
should check with their local Better Business Bureau
or through a state or local government's department
of consumer affairs to ensure that the program they
are working with is legitimate.
Remind Buyers of Requirements, Special Circumstances
Although the tax credit has three requirements listed
for home buyers to qualify - status as a first-time
home buyer, timeframe in which the home must be
purchased and income limits - it is sometimes not
that simple. Specific situations - such as those
involving the sale of a home between related individuals
or prior ownership of a mobile home as a primary
residence - may result in a buyer's disqualification
from claiming the credit.
In a statement released last week, the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) warned taxpayers to beware
of first-time home buyer tax credit fraud. Home
buyers who may be unsure of their status on claiming
the tax credit should seek professional advice from
a certified public accountant or an enrolled agent
licensed by the federal government.
Home buyers who may need additional information
can find answers to frequently asked questions about
the tax credit at www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com.
Article and Picture © nbnnews.com
on "Clock Running Down on First-Time Home Buyer
Tax Credit" on Lisa's Blog.
Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters
FRANCISCO - Returning to their ranch-style house
in Sacramento after a long summer workday, Jon and
Kim Waldrep were routinely met by a wall of heat.
"We'd come home in the summer, and the house would
be 115 degrees, stifling," said Mr. Waldrep, a regional
manager for a national company.
He or his wife would race to the thermostat and
turn on the air-conditioning as their four small
children, just picked up from day care, awaited
All that changed last month. "Now we come home on
days when it's over 100 degrees outside, and the
house is at 80 degrees," Mr. Waldrep said.
Their solution was a new roof: a shiny plasticized
white covering that experts say is not only an energy
saver but also a way to help cool the planet.
Relying on the centuries-old principle that white
objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners
like the Waldreps are in the vanguard of a movement
embracing "cool roofs" as one of the most affordable
weapons against climate change.
Studies show that white roofs reduce air-conditioning
costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather.
Lower energy consumption also means fewer of the
carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global
What is more, a white roof can cost as little as
15 percent more than its dark counterpart, depending
on the materials used, while slashing electricity
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in
physics, has proselytized for cool roofs at home
and abroad. "Make it white," he advised a television
audience on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" last week.
The scientist Mr. Chu calls his hero, Art Rosenfeld,
a member of the California Energy Commission who
has been campaigning for cool roofs since the 1980s,
argues that turning all of the world's roofs "light"
over the next 20 years could save the equivalent
of 24 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions.
"That is what the whole world emitted last year,"
Mr. Rosenfeld said. "So, in a sense, it's like turning
off the world for a year."
This month the Waldreps' three-bedroom house is
consuming 10 percent less electricity than it did
a year ago. (The savings would be greater if the
family ran its central air during the workday.)
From Dubai to New Delhi to Osaka, Japan, reflective
roofs have been embraced by local officials seeking
to rein in energy costs. In the United States, they
have been standard equipment for a decade at new
Wal-Mart stores. More than 75 percent of the chain's
4,268 outlets in the United States have them.
California, Florida and Georgia have adopted building
codes that encourage white-roof installations for
Drawing on federal stimulus dollars earmarked for
energy-efficiency projects, state energy offices
and local utilities often offer financing for cool
roofs. The roofs can qualify for tax credits if
the roofing materials pass muster with the Environmental
Protection Agency's Energy Star program.
Still, the ardor of the cool-roof advocates has
prompted a bit of a backlash.
Some roofing specialists and architects argue that
supporters fail to account for climate differences
or the complexities of roof construction. In cooler
climates, they say, reflective roofs can mean higher
Scientists acknowledge that the extra heating costs
may outweigh the air-conditioning savings in cities
like Detroit or Minneapolis.
But for most types of construction, they say, light
roofs yield significant net benefits as far north
as New York or Chicago. Although those cities have
cold winters, they are heat islands in the summer,
with hundreds of thousands of square feet of roof
surface absorbing energy.
The physics behind cool roofs is simple. Solar energy
delivers both light and heat, and the heat from
sunlight is readily absorbed by dark colors. (An
asphalt roof in New York can rise to 180 degrees
on a hot summer day.) Lighter colors, however, reflect
back a sizable fraction of the radiation, helping
to keep a building - and, more broadly, the city
and Earth - cooler. They also re-emit some of the
heat they absorb.
Unlike high-technology solutions to reducing energy
use, like light-emitting diodes in lamp fixtures,
white roofs have a long and humble history. Houses
in hot climates have been whitewashed for centuries.
Before the advent of central air-conditioning in
the mid-20th-century, white- and cream-colored houses
with reflective tin roofs were the norm in South
Florida, for example. Then central air-conditioning
arrived, along with dark roofs whose basic ingredients
were often asphalt, tar and bitumen, or asphalt-based
shingles. These materials absorb as much as 90 percent
of the sun's heat energy - often useful in New England,
but less so in Texas. By contrast, a white roof
can absorb as little as 10 percent or 15 percent.
"Relative newcomers to the West and South brought
a lot of habits and products from the Northeast,"
said Joe Reilly, the president of American Rooftile
Coatings, a supplier. "What you see happening now
is common sense."
Around the country, roof makers are racing to develop
products in the hope of profiting as the movement
spreads from the flat roofs of the country's malls
to the sloped roofs of its suburbs.
Years of detailed work by scientists at the Lawrence
Berkeley Laboratory have provided the roof makers
with a rainbow of colors - the equivalent of a table
of the elements - showing the amount of light that
each hue reflects and the amount of heat it re-emits.
White is not always a buyer's first choice of color.
So suppliers like American Rooftile Coatings have
used federal color charts to create "cool" but traditional
colors, like cream, sienna and gray, that yield
savings, though less than dazzling white roofs do.
In an experiment, the National Laboratory in Oak
Ridge, Tenn., had two kinds of terra-cotta-colored
cement tiles from American Rooftile installed on
four new homes at the Fort Irwin Army base in California.
One kind was covered with a special paint and reflected
45 percent of the sun's rays - nearly twice as much
as the other kind. The two homes with roofs of highly
reflective paint used 35 percent less electricity
last summer than the two with less reflective paint.
Still, William Miller of the Oak Ridge laboratory,
who organized the experiment, says he distrusts
the margin of difference; he wants to figure out
whether some of it resulted from different family
Hashem Akbari, Dr. Rosenfeld's colleague at the
Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, says he is unsure
how long it will take cool roofs to truly catch
on. But he points out that most roofs, whether tile
or asphalt-shingle, have a life span of 20 to 25
If the roughly 5 percent of all roofs that are replaced
each year were given cool colors, he said, the country's
transformation would be complete in two decades.
Article © Felicity Barringer, New York Times
on "White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters"
on Lisa's Blog.
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