Cool Roofs: Taking Action

Cool Roof Funding

To aid community-wide acceptance and adoption of cool roofs, it will be helpful to inform residents and businesses about financial incentives that exist for the installation of a cool roof, where applicable. To learn more about incentives available for cool roof projects, policies or programs, be sure to visit:

  • Funding Wizard: A tool to help individuals, businesses and local governments find funding from grants, incentives, and rebates for sustainable projects. When looking for cool roof funding, be sure to check out the energy efficiency funding opportunities, which can apply broadly to measures, such as cool roofs.
  • Energy Upgrade California: A collaborative effort between state agencies, counties, cities, utilities, and community organizations throughout California to help meet the state’s energy and climate goals. Get rebates and incentives for implementing energy efficient measures in your homes, including cool roofs. (Available in much of California, including Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) service areas.)

Local initiatives

Many communities and local governments have taken steps to develop cool roof programs by installing cool roofs on public buildings and including cool roofs in local building requirements and/or policies.

Click the links below to explore many of the voluntary programs and local initiatives that actively promote cool roofs in California.

  • Berkeley Climate Action Plan: The City of Berkeley is pursuing a requirement to install cool roofs on commercial buildings for new construction or re-roofing projects as part of the city’s promotion of energy efficiency in their climate action plan.
  • Chula Vista Climate Action Plan: The City of Chula Vista performed a cost-benefit analysis of cool roof options, in conjunction with San Diego Gas & Electric. The results of this analysis were used to inform a 2012 revision to the city building code that increased the minimum cool roof requirements – now consistent with those in the CalGreen code, voluntary Tier 2. (See Cool Roofs: Codes and standards section for review of requirements.)
  • Contra Costa County Municipal Climate Action Plan: Contra Costa County’s Municipal Climate Action Plan creates a standard for cool roofs in new county buildings and remodels. The county is also looking to upgrade county buildings with cool roofs.
  • City of Los Angeles Cool Roof OrdinanceThe city passed in December 2013 a cool roof ordinance requiring all new residences or existing residences undergoing roof renovations to install cool roof products. This includes single-family and multi-family buildings. To aid this transition, the LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is offering cool roof rebates. Learn more about the LADWP program on the Rebates & Incentives page.
  • Marin County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan: As a part of the Cities for Climate Protection campaign, Marin County includes installation of reflective roofing as a part of their Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.
  • Martinez Climate Action Plan: The City of Martinez is mitigating their urban heat island by promoting cool community strategies – cool roofs, cool pavements and urban vegetation – in their climate action plan. The city is planning to adopt new building codes along with new parking and landscape regulations to implement the cool community strategies.
  • Menlo Park Climate Change Action Plan: Menlo Park’s Climate Action Plan proposes the use of reflective and energy star roofing materials in some city buildings. Menlo Park is also looking to begin an energy efficiency and renewable energy financing program, which would bring low interest loans to fund projects like cool roofs.
  • San Diego Climate Change Protection Action Plan: The City of San Diego’s Climate Change Protection Action Plan seeks to adopt a heat island mitigation policy for the city. The policy would include utilizing alternative cool materials for roofs and pavement to reduce the heat island effect.
  • San Jose's Green Vision: San Jose’s Green Vision integrates cool roofs as a part of efforts in energy efficiency.
  • Sonoma County Community Climate Action Plan: The Sonoma County Community Climate Action Plan outlines a plan to integrate cool roofs onto county buildings.
  • Union City Climate Action Plan: In their Climate Action Plan, Union City plans to promote the use of cool roof technology.
  • Town of Windsor Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Action Plan: Part of the Town of Windsor’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Action Plan aims to put cool roofs on several public buildings. Windsor also has green building standards, which include cool roof measures.

Implementation resources

When considering cool roofs for your city, community, or building, the following tools can simplify the decision-making process. The below resources demonstrate the possible energy-saving and economic benefits of white roofs where you live, as well as the policy guidance to lock in the maximum benefit for your area.


screenshot of the interactive albedo map screenshot of the interactive albedo map
Left image: A screenshot from the interactive map of rooftop albedo (solar reflectance) in Los Angeles. Right image: A close up of specific roofs in the city.


Case Study: Potential for residential cool roofs in Fresno, CA

Fresno is situated in California’s Central Valley, among the hottest regions in the state. Over the past few years, Berkeley Lab has been monitoring two adjacent homes that are nearly identical in construction—apart from their roofs. One home has a conventional dark asphalt roof while the other has a cool tile roof. Real-time monitoring tracks differences in roof and attic temperature, heat flow through the ceiling, and energy needed to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.[1] The resulting analysis revealed that the home with a cool tile roof saved $120 in energy expenses over the course of a summer compared to the home with a traditional roof.


asphalt shingle roof comparison in Fresno, CA

Figure 8. Two adjacent residences in Fresno, CA - the home in the background has a conventional asphalt shingle roof and the home in the foreground has a cool tile roof (source: LBNL-Heat Island Group)


In addition to being one of California’s hottest cities, Fresno is also one of its most populous, with nearly 500,000 residents and more than 170,000 housing units.[2] A 2006 study[3] that investigated the feasibility of cool roofs on residential buildings in California found that increasing the reflectance of standard shingle, metal, or tile roofs by 0.15-0.30 could save more than 100 kilowatt-hours of cooling electricity per year, which amounts to cost savings of approximately $20 per home each year.[4] Implementing cool roofs on residences throughout Fresno could thus save its homeowners more than $3 million and avoid nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions on an annual basis—equivalent to removing over 2,080 vehicles from the road.[5]

Case Study: Cool roof savings potential for Los Angeles

Los Angeles is big and hot. As California’s most populous city, there are opportunities for large savings from reducing cooling energy needs. Cool roofs have been discussed as one possibility; a 2011 report proposed the phase-in of cool roofs on new and existing buildings, estimating that Los Angeles residents would save $30 million each year from the associated energy savings alone. The report also notes that other benefits of cool roofs include roof longevity, reduced healthcare costs, and global cooling; increasing the solar reflectance of Los Angeles rooftops has the potential to offset 80% of the greenhouse warming from a year of the city’s CO­2 emissions. The report proposes citywide adoption of cool roofs through utility incentives, consumer education and resources, and incorporating cool roof requirements into the city’s building code.[6] Cool roofs also fit into L.A.’s vision for green jobs, as they are listed as one of 13 high-potential building energy efficiency retrofits that are encouraged as part of the city’s Green Retrofit and Workforce Development Program.[7]

In March 2013, Los Angeles-based nonprofit Climate Resolve hosted a day-long seminar on cool roofs in L.A. called “Hot City, Cool Roofs.” The event featured then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaking of the need for climate solutions, who directed the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety to incorporate stricter cool roof requirements into its building code, and requested that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) create incentives for cool roofs. And in December 2013, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed an update to the Municipal Building Code making it the first city to require residences to install cool roofs when newly constructed or with roof replacement. To assist with this transition, the LADWP developed cool roof rebates for both single-family and multi-family residential customers.


[1] You can keep track of the temperature and energy comparisons in real time at

[3] Akbari H, Wray C, Xu T, Levinson R (2006) Inclusion of Solar Reflectance and Thermal Emittance Prescriptive Requirements for Residential Roofs in Title 24. Code Change Proposal in 2008 Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards Update.

[4] Assumes average electricity rate of $0.18/kWh

[6] Horowitz C (2011) Bright roofs, big city: Keeping L.A. cool through an aggressive cool-roof program. Anthony Pritzker Environmental Law and Policy Briefs 2: 14 pp. Online at:

[7] Delp L, Stewart E, Appelbaum LD (2009) Good, Green, Safe Jobs: The Los Angeles Green Retrofit and Workforce Development Program. UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Research & Policy Brief 2: 9 pp. Online at: