Article Summary: Cool roofs provide a great ROI by reducing utility costs, but also by taking advantage of government incentives and tax rebates.
By Dan Parsley, EES Consulting
While the dog days of summer drive up the temperature outside, they are also driving up the temperature inside furniture showrooms and manufacturing facilities. And one other thing they are driving up: your facility’s energy consumption. Keeping you, your employees and your customers cool is a permanent operating cost everyone wants to lower. Most operators do not think of their roof as a variable in lowering energy costs, but new roofing technologies are giving companies reasons to think cool thoughts when they learn about their heat-reducing, money-saving possibilities.
At the most elementary level, cool roof technologies reflect the sun’s heat rather than allowing it to transfer into the building. If you are in a building with no insulation or reflectivity in its external coating, most of your building’s heat will be entering your facility through the roof. Tending to this critical area can often reduce the building’s energy consumption envelope by 10 to 30 percent. According to LBNL Heat Island Group, a nationwide implementation of cool roof technologies could mean an annual savings for $1 billion in cooling costs.
There are a variety of options to fit the shape and form of your particular roof. There are four types of roofing systems that can be chosen if you have a low-sloped, or not very steep roof: a single-ply roofing system, a built-up roofing system, a modified bitumen sheet system and a spray polyurethane foam (SPF) system.
If you have a steep-sloped roof, there are two main options: shingle roofs and tile roofs. Metal roofs can be used for low-sloped and steep-sloped pitches. There are also several varieties of cool roofing products, including reflective paint, sheet coverings, tiles and shingles.
The cost of cool roof materials depends on your location and local circumstances, but the price is more competitive than you may think. The cost difference between cool roofs and conventional roofs is zero to five or 10 cents per square foot, or 10 to 20 cents for built-up roofs with the cool coat in place of the asphalt or aluminum coating.
Most importantly, converting to a cool roof will not break the bank. Depending on the state of your building’s roof, it can be treated by coating the existing surface instead of replacing the entire roof. The outer surface can be treated with a cool coating, which turns it into an energy efficient roof with little additional work.
Cools roofs provide a great ROI by reducing utility costs, but also by taking advantage of government incentives and tax rebates. By utilizing energy efficiency tax rebates, the installation can pay for itself through Federal and state incentive programs. (For detailed information on incentives in your area, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.)
Having a cool roof also means less roof maintenance; they are expected to last longer than the average roof by protecting it from other harmful elements, such as chemical and water damage. Finally, cool roofs can also extend the life of your heating and cooling equipment by dramatically lowering the workload and pressure on your HVAC system.
On average, cool roof technologies rival old school roofing practices in price. As a final bonus, cool roof technologies can have a pay-back in three years or less. According to the Department of Energy, substituting a cool roof for a conventional roof can reduce the air conditioning use of a single story building by up to 15 percent. To learn more, visit the Cool Roof Rating Council website or estimate your potential energy savings with the U.S. Department of Energy Cool Roof Calculator.
Dan Parsley is President and COO of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (EES) Consulting, a Houston-based firm with locations across the U.S. that creates customized and comprehensive solutions to fit each commercial building’s unique energy needs.
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