Message Board Thread - "Q: Evaluation of Rooftop Garden or other reflective heat treatments?"

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Q: Evaluation of Rooftop Garden or other reflective heat treatments? Scott Willits 2/16/2004
I am working with a graduate student doing his thesis on the effectiveness of different types of roofing systems designed to mitigate the heat island effect in large urban areas. He is primarily interested in rooftop gardens, and since the vast majority of literature he's run across tends toward the anecdotal, he'd like to design some experiments to quantify their effectiveness and perhaps compare a few different designs to some control standard.

The problem is that we're located in a rural area on the coast in the Pacific Northwest. The heat island effect is a mere figment of our imagination in these parts, so we'll have to construct an indoor simulation using a couple of 1000W HPS lights and small (say 3x3 foot) mini-roof systems built on carts.

The thrust of the experiment isn't so much to prove that one roof system is more effective than any other so much as it is to show that IRT is one means by which we can move beyond the anecdotal to provide a quantitative means of verifying that such systems can in fact be effective.

I'm curious as to whether anybody can't point to any related research, anything at all involving the use of IRT to evaluate the thermal performance of building envelope features, specifically roofing if possible, in a lab setting. It will be useful not just for the experiment design but in order to ensure that this guy's thesis has a comprehensive literature review.

Thanks much in advance,

Scott Willits
Redwood Infrared
Re:Q: Evaluation of Rooftop Garden or other reflective heat treatments? Doctir bob 2/17/2004
Proceedings of the Thermosense Conference dating from 1978 have numerous papers addressing IRT for buildings and structures. In fact, we started Thermosense during the energy crisis to address issues of IRT applied to buildings for detection and documentation of heat loss. You can purchase the entire set of Proceedings 1978-2003 on two CDs from SPIE. Visit their website at or phone 360-676-3290 in Bellingham, WA.

The Infrared Training Center's own InfraMation Proceedings also have several articles on building heat loss and related topics.

Most of these papers are based on real world, not lab settings. But you will find seminal lab work on IRT for roof moisture surveys from Wayne Tobiasson of Cold Regions Research and Engineering Labs. Also, Sven-Ake Ljunberg of the National Swedish Institute for Building Research has done copious work in this area. There are many others who have made significant contributions in this area. The proceedings I mentioned above will get you off to a good start.
Re:Q: Evaluation of Rooftop Garden or other reflective heat treatments? stewart 3/3/2004
We have done hundreds of roof surveys including some work on roof gardens, in fact i spent 5 years selling and designs roof gardens including sedum blankets which roll our over any roof to achieve exactly what you are looking for. Any slope and shape can be accomodated. There are numerous conservation areas in germany where you must have such a roof garden as they clean the air cool the environment and slow down water through the drainage system. Germans get taxed on the water they disscharge. So a roof garden saves them money! Feel free to call me on Scotland (44) 1382 562590 or email me direct at

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