Cool Walls Rating System Move Forward – Good for Polymeric Cladding

By Matt Dobson, Vice President, Vinyl Siding Institute

Good news: a new energy efficiency opportunity has been identified for polymeric cladding. In the future, some polymeric cladding could claim the label as a “cool” wall product. Over 20 years ago, “cool” roofs were established as a form of energy efficiency in southern U.S. climate zones. Now, some polymeric cladding will have an opportunity to be a part of this energy efficiency movement as a cool wall product.

The cool concept measures the ability of a material (and color) to reflect and emit energy– in this case, solar energy. Having a certain level of this cool concept, or reflectivity, enable buildings, including homes, to reduce the cooling load because less energy is absorbed and kept. In the bigger view, these cool concepts can also help reduce heat island effect, which is more evident in higher density settings where increased temperature rise is regularly noticed compared to less dense surrounding areas.

As part of this initiative, the VSI has been working as a Steering Committee member over the last year and there is now a general consensus that this could be an excellent opportunity for our industry, especially considering where housing starts are strongest in the country’s southern climates.

Over the next few months, VSI will focus on two main areas:

  • The Technical Committee will develop a protocol to measure the “coolness” of our products and then submit this protocol to the technical committee of the cool wall rating technical group for their consideration and inclusion within their certification program.
  • The Regulatory and Advocacy Committee will learn about different opportunities this program can offer, including the opportunity to label cool products with the Energy Star label. There are numerous programs, utilities and even the energy code that have recognized the concept with cool roofs and VSI will work with the cool wall rating program to have a similar recognition of cool wall products.

VSI members will have the opportunity to discover whether their products rate and certify as cool wall products in 2021. Stay tuned for details in the coming months.