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Reflections on California’s Infatuation with Reflectivity

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 11, 2012

California is an amazing state – high GDP, movie stars, Silicon Valley, and a terrific climate. And, it maintains energy policies that put its per capita energy consumption at a fraction of other states in the nation. Through an aggressive regulatory framework for energy efficiency in buildings, coupled with clean burning gasoline requirements, the state has created a benchmark that other states often replicate. One of those benchmarks is requiring reflective roofs on all residential and commercial buildings as per Title 24, which also requires minimum levels of insulation – a perfect partnering to create high performance roof systems…

…perfect up until now.

California has proposed changing the existing Title 24 reflectivity requirement for commercial buildings that would, for the first time, give greater credit for reflectivity than insulation when it comes to efficiency. At least it appears that way in the initial proposal just published by the California Energy Commission, which limits the amount of insulation that may be used as a trade off with reflectivity. In addition, California's minimum R value for rerroofing commercial buildings, far from exceeding national code minimums, is lower than ASHRAE 90.1 2007.

Fortunately a coalition of roofing industry groups (PIMA included) is drawing the Commission's attention to this issue.

In a report titled "California's Energy Future-The View to 2050”, scientists from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory concluded that California can meet its goal to reduce its greenhouse emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. However, California may not meet this lofty goal if the state fails to keep its eye on the component that delivers efficiency day and night- 24/7- thermal insulation in buildings.

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