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US$2m prize launched to support reflective cool roof solutions

Individual grants of US$100,000 will be provided to up to ten projects to mitigate demand for cooling and air conditioning

A panel of ten expert judges will decide on a range of ‘cool roof’ projects to receive individual grants of US$100,000 to aid potential wide scale adoption.

Up to ten initiatives focused on reducing the need for AC can be provided a grant from August this year under the initiative. One single overall winner will then be chosen in 2021 to receive US$1 million, based on its effectiveness and potential to be rolled out for wider use globally.

A total of US$2m in funding is being provided as part of the ‘Million Cool Roofs Challenge’ that is being overseen by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme, the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) organisation and NESTA’s Challenge Prize Centre.

The challenge is focused on expanding the viability and use of solar-reflective roof technologies to offset negative health impacts from increasing global temperatures and heat waves.

Organisers of the competition have argued that reflective coatings can reduce internal temperatures in buildings by between 2 deg C and 3 deg C, reducing demand for mechanical cooling functions.

Supporting new business models and technologies that will allow for wider deployment of these technologies is also expected to provide a cooling effect through the lowering of ambient air temperature, according to the challenge’s organisers.

Soffia Alarcon Diaz, director of Carbon Trust Mexico and one of the ten judges that will decide on final direction of the funding, said the challenge’s aim were particularly pertinent for the global south that was seeing more prolonged bouts of hot weather in a wider number of areas.

She added, “Urgent action is required to help minimise the impact on human health and by accelerating the amount of reflective roofs relief will be provided to billions of people suffering from heat stress. I’m excited to be asked to work with the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP) on this important initiative and alongside the eminent judging panel help to seek out the most promising innovations in this area that will catalyse this vital solution on a large scale.”

The ten-judge panel that will decide on projects that should receive funding will bring together academics, members of the cooling industry and civil society, as well as civil servants to consider a range of criteria over the viability of different projects.

This will include looking at the effectiveness and durability of solar-reflective solutions, as well as the community impact of their use and potential to be scaled-up.

The full list of experts sitting on the panel can be found here.

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