Smart, Cool Roofing Systems and Energy Management

As oil and gas prices continue their unpredictable ways, discussions about energy and conservation remain part of our national conversation.

For years, owners and managers of commercial buildings of all shapes, sizes and locations have implemented a variety of “high-tech” energy management practices – improvements in building automation, systems interoperability, energy efficiency of lighting and office equipment, security systems, and the biggest electricity consumer of all – air conditioning. A study conducted a few years ago by the EPA estimated that $40 billion was spent annually to air condition commercial buildings – one-sixth of all electricity consumed in the United States.

Important as these high-tech solutions are, “low-tech” cool roofing systems can reduce a building’s annual air conditioning consumption by 10 to 40 percent, depending on location, building design, climate, and other factors. Intelligent roofing decisions not only reduce air conditioning loads and utility bills, they can also allow facilities to potentially downsize their air conditioning equipment.

Roofing can contribute to energy efficiency in at least two ways – effective insulation and reflective surfaces. Thermal roofing insulation became an important construction element during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. Insulation that’s properly installed helps keep warm air in during the winter and out during the summer. Insulation requirements vary from climate to climate, and most local building codes today mandate minimum roofing R-values – a material’s ability to resist heat flow.

A more recent trend has been the strong growth of “cool roofing” – white or light-colored roof surfaces that reflect solar energy, reduce HVAC loads, and keep buildings cooler in summer months. More than just a sensible design solution for individual buildings, cool roofing is considered by many scientists, industry experts, and government officials to be an effective means of addressing national energy efficiency and environmental challenges. Virtually all commercial roofing manufacturers offer cool roofing systems, including Duro-Last®, maker of the highly reflective Cool Zone® roofing system. Royalty Roofing is an Elite Contractor for Duro-Last products.

In an era that is increasingly sophisticated and computerized, it’s important keep in mind that basic, unfashionable – and smart – cool roofing can be highly effective in helping facility owners and managers control their buildings’ energy consumption.