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The Cool Surface Project

HomeEnergy EfficiencyThe Cool Surface Project
HomeEnergy EfficiencyThe Cool Surface Project

The Cool Surface Project

The Cool Surfaces Project began as a collaboration between the South African and United States of America’s respective Departments of Energy under the Clean Energy Ministerial. The Cool Surfaces Project is the response to South Africa’s need for an energy passive, low cost, low maintenance cooling technology for buildings.

    The Cool Surfaces Project roadmap is as follows:

  • Establish a Cool Surfaces association to regulate and promote the industry. SACSA – South African Cool Surfaces Association has been (i.e., white roofs, light-colored pavements. Cool surfaces are measured by how much light they reflect (solar reflectance) and how long they hold heat (thermal emittance).
  • Adopt the standards from CRRC- Cool Roof Rating Council, against which Cool Surfaces products are to be measured. These have adopted and published.
  • Establish a laboratory to test products. Laboratory space has been established at SABs.
  • Certify each tested product, rate its efficacy, label the product for consumers to easily understand.
  • Establish a database of all approved Cool Surfaces products that comply with the criteria.
  • Conduct demonstration projects to assess the suitability of Cool Surfaces for mass application under South African climatic conditions in retrofit - building projects, as well as to promoting the highest quality of products at the most affordable prices.

Funding for the equipment to furnish the laboratories remains a challenge. The manufacture of further Cool Surfaces Products within South Africa remain stalled until credible, affordable testing, rating and labelling can allow Cool Surfaces products to be listed as certified on the database. Without these controls, quality and trust in the technology will be in question, damaging the industry.

What is a cool surface?

Cool Surfaces refers to all materials and technologies used in the construction of the building envelope that improve thermal comfort. Our current focus is on the Cool Coatings applied to roofs and walls by painting the prepared surface. Surfaces that reflect lots of solar energy and release lots of stored heat energy (i.e., white roofs, light-colored pavements. Cool surfaces are measured by how much light they reflect (solar reflectance) and how long they hold heat (thermal emittance).

Partners and Funding

Initially the Cool Surfaces project was a cost share initiative between the USA DOE and RSA DOE that contributed to kick starting it. SANEDI is in partnership with the Department of Public Works and the National Development Agency, is funding the project. Two SANEDI programmes (Energy Efficiency Programme and Working for Energy) are collaborating to implement Cool Surfaces.

Demonstration Projects

Broadly, demonstration project sites were selected from those located in extremely hot climatic zones, with no access to electricity for cooling and are Public buildings (schools, clinics etc) owned by the state.

The Focus has been on Low-Income Housing: Where applied, this technology dramatically improves the thermal comfort of low-income housing without using electricity, thus improving the quality of life and forestalling the need for air conditioning. However, it is also very valuable in buildings where HVAC systems have already been installed; Cool surfaces can cut AC energy use by up to 20% on the top floor of air conditioned buildings, avoiding cooling loads at peak times. Cooler intake air means AC works less, and EE contributes to downsizing the AC units.

Every attempt was made to include the communities in the intervention. Before the project begins, an advance team from TEPRASM, informs the community in door to door campaign conducted in the vernacular, to secure community buy-in and feedback. A percentage of the cool surfaces application work force is drawn from the local community members. They are trained in various skills related to the cool coating application and the hired for the duration. The communities are most receptive.

    Benefits of Cool Surfaces:

  • Cooler surface temperatures help the roof and the equipment on it last longer.
  • Cool roofs allow less heat into the building, making unconditioned buildings much cooler.
  • Cooling effects vary by city but studies indicate a cooling from 2 – 4 degrees.
  • Whitening 100sqm roofing cancels the warming effect of 10 tons of CO2 emissions (or 0.6 tons per year for the life of the roof.)
  • Globally cool surfaces cancels 500 medium sized coal power plants worth of greenhouse gas emissions; this is more effective than even CFL deployment.