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One of the most commonly asked questions by Property Owners, Facilities Managers and other professionals involved in the life-cycle of a commercial building is, "Is my roof GREEN?" If you're asking the question, the simple answer is "Probably not."
Whether your roof is "GREEN" or not depends largely upon how you choose to define "GREEN". As it pertains to commercial roofing, there are a myriad industry terms, acronyms, organizations, products and certifications available to consider. All of which have merit. Some of which will be mentioned here. In the end, however, your "GREEN" philosophy should combine some measure of energy efficiency, lifespan or "sustainability" of the roofing system and the overall impact of the system and its components on the environment.
Energy Efficiency: High R-Values Translate Into Dollars And Sense
The R-Value of your roofing system is a measure of its thermal resistance. Polyiso insulation, EPS insulation or coatings can substantially increase your roof's overall R-value. In short, the higher the R-Value, the more cost effective it will be to heat or cool your structure. But the savings don't end there.
Energy Star states that a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot is available to owners or designers of new or existing commercial buildings that save at least 50% of the heating and cooling energy of a building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007. Partial deductions of up to $.60 per square foot can be taken for measures affecting the building envelope—i.e., your roof. These tax deductions are available for systems “placed in service” from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2013.
Sustainability: How Long Should My Roof Last?
A commonly used yardstick designed to increase the 'sustainability' of a roofing system, and the building as a whole, can be found in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification system. While not all buildings go through the LEED certification process, its rating system can be adopted and applied to any new or existing structure throughout its life-cycle.
Should you choose to go through the LEED certification process, all aspects of your building's architectural systems, products and even its maintenance processes are evaluated. Each of these evaluated factors may yield LEED 'credits' toward its certification. Meeting certain LEED criteria is a requirement in some sectors and certification of a structure can increase the value of a property.
As all members of the building team know, maintaining a building's roof is paramount to the entire health of your structure, its occupants and the surrounding area. Incorporating the LEED standard into your "GREEN" philosophy will help prolong the life of any structure and its components.
Environmental Impact: What Products Are Environmentally Friendly?
The phrase "environmentally friendly" has saturated the marketplace, especially in the commercial construction industry. How is it possible that everyone's product is "GREEN"? The short answer is that most architectural products have "GREEN" qualities. For example, the manufacturing of certain building products may release unwanted toxins into the environment. That sounds bad, right? It's not good. However, that product may also last virtually forever, requiring fewer natural resources to be used over time. So is it "GREEN" or not? Again, this is a matter of opinion.
There are roofing products available, however, designed specifically to decrease negative impacts on the environment. On warm summer days, a city can be 6 to 8°F warmer than its surrounding areas. This is called the "heat island effect". Cool roof materials, membranes, and vegetation (live roofs) can reduce the heat island effect, save energy and reduce smog formation.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a roofing system is to choose the system that is best for your custom application: high traffic, high-rise, high wind, etc. Any of todays roofing systems can adhere to various "GREEN" standards and offer long-lasting service if installed and maintained properly. Sherriff-Goslin believes that installing affordable, durable roof systems and living up to your definition of "GREEN" can coexist.