Back two to three decades ago, when many of today’s commercial roofs were installed, not much thought was put into environmentally-friendly roof substrates. Many of the roofs installed were dark in color, contained tar, asphalt and other harmful products to the environment. Today, the roofing industry is quickly moving in the opposite direction towards “Cool Roofs” and “Green Roofs.” These roofs are not only good for the surrounding environment, they can also save the building owner money on energy costs. In addition, these roofs can earn building credits towards a LEED certification.
At growing rates, green building projects across the country are achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is a third-party certification program and is a nationally accepted organization for design, operation and construction of high performance green buildings. This certification ensures buildings are environmentally compatible, provide a healthy work environment and are profitable.
The key to the success of these sustainable projects is an integrated design process from start to finish, which includes building owners, developers, architects, designers, engineers and contractors. Architects and developers need to find ways to differentiate themselves and many are starting to include “Cool” and “Green” roofs into their designs. Contractors in the warm regions of the U.S. have been installing “Cool Roofs” for quite some time. They quickly identified the benefits and advantages that these roofs provide to building owners. Contractors in the Midwest and northern regions of the U.S. are adapting to this “Cool Roof” technology and earning LEED credits for many of the buildings where they are installed.
The roof is a very important element in the LEED rating system. The most obvious roof applicable points can be found in the sustainable sites category with the Heat Island Effect. The intent of the Heat Island Effect category is to reduce heat islands (thermal gradient differences between developed and undeveloped areas) to minimize impact on microclimate and human and wildlife habitat. The requirements to achieve this point include one of the following strategies:
- Use Energy Star compliant (highly reflective) and high emissivity roofing (emissivity of at least 0.9 when tested in accordance with ASTM 408) for a minimum of 75 percent of the roof surface
- Install a “green” (vegetated) roof for at least 50 percent of the roof area
- Combinations of high albedo and vegetated roof can be used providing they collectively cover 75 percent of the roof area
Other LEED credit areas that roofing system designers should consider include: Minimum Energy Performance, Renewable Energy, Building Reuse, Construction Waste Management, Resource Reuse, Recycled Content, Regional Materials and Innovative Design Process.
The key to successful sustainable design and LEED certification is the integrated design relationship between all parties involved, including the architect and roofing contractor. Only then, can a roof be designed to its fullest potential as well as adding up possible points toward LEED certification. Points toward a LEED certification can also be earned on existing buildings by fulfilling one of the requirements above.
Be kind to the environment (and your bank account) by contacting Seamless Roofing to inquire more information about installing a “Cool Roof” at your current or future commercial building.