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Condensation problems in cool roofs

: Bludau, C.; Zirkelbach, D.; Künzel, H.M.

Interface 27 (2009), No.7, pp.11-16
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBP ()

In some regions of the United States, socalled "cool roofs" have become mandatory in order to save cooling energy in summer, and it is expected that these roofs will also become more widespread in other parts of the world. Acool roof uses a bright surface to reflect incident solar radiation, which significantly lowers the daytime surface temperature compared to conventional roofs with bituminous membrane. However, since most energy savings measures involve some sort of moisture-related issue, the question is whether the widespread application of these roofs may lead to durability problems. There are already rumors that the so-called "self-drying" roofs that do not have a vapor barrier might face moisture accumulation when equipped \vith a reflective surface because the solar vapor drive helping to dry out the roofs during summertime is diminished.
In order to clarify this important durability issue, experimentally verified hygrothermal simulations have been carried out on lightweight flat roofs with and without reflective surface layers. Because the longwave radiation to the sky is an important factor in nighttime roof temperature (and thus also for the risk of interstitial condensation), the sky radiation has been measured as part of the meteorological data collection at the field test site in Holzkirchen, Bavaria, Germany. Together with continuous surface temperature recordings of different roofs, these meteorological data have been used to validate the new radiation exchange model of a hygrothermal simulation tool. Afterwards, a typical lightweight cool roof has been selected and its moisture behavior simulated under different outdoor conditions. The results show that severe moisture accumulation will only occur in colder regions of Europe and North America. However, there are some regions where cool roofs could be beneficial for cooling energy savings.