We touched on this subject before, however, it deserves repeated mentioning. Roof systems, especially commercial roofs, impact our environment greatly. Probably more than the average person realizes. From disposing of old roof systems into our dumps and landfills, using petroleum based products, high VOC containing products, poor insulation, poor waterproofing membrane choice or design, and poorly designed weather/storm resistance- these factors contribute greatly to global warming and environmental degradation. 

So what can we do? First, we must develop each system specific to the building type and its geographic location. To begin with, choosing adequate insulation values to minimize carbon emissions from the commercial building can have one of the largest impacts. A minimum LTTR 25 should be considered for most regions or perhaps LTTR 30 and installing the insulation in multiple layers can greatly reduce thermal loss. Do not just settle for code minimum, building codes are the bare minimum for what responsible roofing companies should be doing in their roof designs. Further, the initial cost of this insulation can easily be recouped through lower energy costs and the owner’s peace of mind that they are doing their part in helping the environment comes with great satisfaction. 

Secondly, choose recyclable products (most types of insulation, TPO, EPDM membranes etc) so when the roof comes off 20-30 years from now it can all be recycled minimizing trash and landfill usage. Many times the existing roof can be recycled thereby initiating less environmental impact immediately during the re-roof process. Most importantly, the right choice with a waterproofing membrane minimizes our dependence on petroleum and oil based products. 

Next, choose a waterproofing membrane that adds value to the insulation. In warmer regions, white UV reflective membranes such as TPO can greatly reduce a building’s energy consumption. The synergistic effect from the appropriate amount of insulation coupled with UV reflective membranes will reduce the heat island effect of cities and lower carbon emissions. Not to mention, this means added savings on expensive cooling costs for business owners. Topping the roof membrane off with a green vegetative layer will not only create a beautiful roof but these plants ingest carbon dioxide for photosynthesis helping to scrub the air while releasing out fresh clean oxygen. Commercial property owners need to be educated by roofing companies in that owners can make a difference and it will be a responsible choice while the upfront costs of these projects are recouped rapidly eventually putting additional cash flow back into the owner’s bank account.

Choose, low VOC products. Even an environmentally friendly membrane can have a negative side when installed with high VOC containing products. These products do not only damage our atmosphere but also the health of our valuable employees who install these roofs. Whenever possible choose LVOC products or try to minimize adhesives and glues by mechanically attaching the roof membrane when appropriate.

Finally, roofing companies need to design the roof system with sufficient weather and storm resistance. Choose durable cover boards and thicker membranes to reduce hail susceptibility. If mechanically attaching a membrane, ensure your wind design and fastener layout strategy is in line with the region’s weather and wind patterns. Educate yourself with wind design criteria such as FM Global compliant systems or ASCE standards. You can take it a step further by upgrading the wind design and fastener layout or fully adhering the membrane to give the roof system a higher likelihood that it will withstand severe wind storms. Also, making sure to secure the metal coping or edge metal adequately is the first line of defense in keeping the new low slope roof on the building but is the first thing overlooked by roofing companies. By designing the appropriate storm resistant system, the roof turnover (replacement frequency) will be lessened creating a lower impact on our environment. 

Roofing companies must take the initiative and the lead in educating property owners while designing environmentally friendly roof systems. We are at the forefront of a technology boom where roofing is becoming more and more scientific and technically advanced. By using our resources, roofing companies can make huge contributions in protecting our world. There are many organizations that can educate roofing companies about sound and green roofing decisions. Manufacturers have apps and websites that assist roofing companies in designing roof systems. Green roofing organizations, such as RoofPoint, provide recognition to both the roofing company and property owner for choosing green roofs. It is time for roofing companies and property owners to embrace the future by protecting our environment and keeping it green now. 

If you need help in designing or selecting the appropriate roof system for your building please contact a Cobalt Roof design professional by visiting http://www.commercialroofingindallas.com or calling (800) 820-4182