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High tech and low cost solution for energy efficiency and thermal comfort

Cool Materials – High Tech / Low Cost solution for energy efficiency and thermal comfort in low rise buildings in high solar radiation countries

Cool materials are most effective in locations with high solar radiation and external temperatures and poorly insulated buildings. The project investigates experimentally and computationally energy consumption reduction and increase of occupants’ thermal comfort by the application of cool materials in low rise houses in three regions; Jamaica, (b) Volta Region, Ghana and (c) Pernambuco state, Brazil.

The main beneficiaries of the project's activity are low income residents who experience overheating in their houses. Capital costs of cool paints are slightly higher than normal paints and unskilled labourers can apply it. Maintenance is low; cleaning might be needed every few years to restore high solar reflectivity properties lost by dirt and replication is needed in 20 years but this is also compatible with general repainting. Improved internal thermal comfort will increase the quality of life and in particular for young and old who have reduced threshold limit compared to healthy adults. Also, sleep conditions will improve with adults sleeping better and therefore can be more productive the following day.

The activity will contribute to energy security in the regions as less electricity will be used even in buildings with air-conditioning and avoidance of air-conditioning. Cool paints and tiles can start being produced locally is a market emerges. A successful outcome of the project would be the issuing of guidelines by local legislators and policymakers advising the application of cool materials to buildings.

This project will carry out a computational study using EnergyPlus (a widely used by academics and building professionals and free to download energy and thermal analysis software) to quantify the improvement of the internal thermal environment in low rise typical houses in three case-study countries; (a) Jamaica, (b) Volta Region, Ghana and (c) Pernambuco state, Brazil. Solar radiation is high in these three areas (4-6 kWh/m2) while buildings are poorly insulated.

The project will also apply the technology in a residential building in Jamaica (Portmore) and monitor its performance. A preliminary study suggests that a 25% cooling energy demand reduction is possible in the target regions[1].


  1. Investigate the potential of improved thermal comfort in low rise residential buildings in three ODA regions by using cool materials on external building surfaces
  2. Calculate potential electricity consumption savings by avoiding the installation of air conditioning to achieve similar internal thermal comfort.
  3. Provide a computational method to local researchers to extend the results of the study to other building types
  4. Provide know-how of a high tech low cost technology with the potential to improve quality of life for vulnerable populations.
  5. Identify suppliers in the UK and Europe who can provide low cost cool materials suitable for application by local installers.


Academic collaboration with (a) University of Technology Kingston Jamaica, (b) Ho Polytechnic, Volta Region, Ghana and (c) Federal Institute of Technology of Pernambuco and Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife/PE – Brazil.

Collaboration with the European Cool Roofs Council ( with 15 manufacturers of cool materials.

[1] Kolokotroni M, Wines C, Babiker R M A and Hartmann Da Silva B (2015). Cool and green roofs to reduce cooling energy demand in storage buildings: a simulation study for distinct climates, 4th International Conference on Countermeasures to Urban Heat Island, 30-31 May and 1 June 2016, National University of Singapore, Singapore


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Maria Kolokotroni
Professor Maria Kolokotroni - Academic Career I studied for an MSc in Environmental Design and Engineering at the Bartlett School, University College London (UCL). I stayed at UCL to carry out a PhD on the 'Thermal Performance of Housing' and further on for a post-doc on a two year project to develop environmental design guidance for research laboratories. I then moved on to the University of Westminster for a three-year post-doc on an EPSRC funded project dealing with Moisture in Residential Buildings. I joined Brunel in 1998. Industrial Career I worked for five years at the Building Research Establishment, Garston in the Indoor Environment Division. My research work focused on the application of natural ventilation strategies in office buildings as well as other energy and indoor air quality related issues in non-domestic buildings.

Related Research Group(s)


Resource Efficient Future Cities - Urban energy; Sustainable advanced materials; Energy efficiency in buildings; System integration of energy and infrastructure planning at community/district/city scales.

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Project last modified 21/11/2023