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Resilient and Reliable: Creating Sustainable, High-Performing Roofs

Posted by Art Valentz on April 22, 2020

Creating sustainable roofing has always been a great way to prove your merits as an eco-conscious organization, but there’s far more to it than that. With traditional asphalt roofs lasting a mere 20 years or so, eco-friendly roofs are about more than just doing your part for the environment—they’ll save you money in the long run as well. From green roofs to solar panels, here’s how sustainability makes a great investment for your next commercial roof.

The Grass is Greener on your Green Roof

A green roof—which is to say a roof on which vegetation is deliberately encouraged to grow—is a complicated yet beautiful addition to any commercial roof. Whereas a traditional roof may have two or three layers, green roofs have up to seven: membrane, roof repellant, insulation, drainage, filtering, soil, and the plants themselves. While the aesthetic result is often worth it—especially in urban office buildings in which the roof is actually visible to the surroundings—there are more benefits to a green roof than beauty alone.

First, the addition of several layers of material, including greenery, means that the building is more insulated, saving on heating and cooling costs. The additional material also absorbs sound, lending peace and quiet to your tenants. Mechanically, the plants on top of your green roof absorb rainwater, which eliminates pooling and mitigates leaks. Lastly, all of these layers help cushion the roof against snow, ice, and falling debris.

All of these advantages accrue to two main benefits. First, green roofs can contribute up to 20% of your LEED points, which has knock-on effects of faster leasing rates, tax incentives, and higher property value. Secondly, the layering and precise construction that goes into your green roof gives it more protection against the elements. In other words, it will simply last longer.

With a green roof, you’ll need to think carefully about rooftop access. Trampling your new green additions will negate all of the hard work you put into it. Design your green roof with rooftop support systems in mind.

Solar Panels—Now is the Right Time

Many people think that the only benefit of solar panels is that they help buildings generate electricity. Granted, this is a huge reason why solar panels are popular, as the average commercial property owner can see their energy bills reduced by up to 83%. This is not the only benefit, however.

Like green roofs, solar panels can greatly improve one’s LEED rating, adding up to 8 points. In addition to the benefits imposed by a high LEED rating, there can be considerable state and federal tax incentives to go solar. Under the federal solar tax credit, you can deduct 26% of the installation cost for your new solar panels. Lastly, solar panels keep much of your roof in constant shade, protecting it from UV radiation that breaks down materials and producing a cooling effect that lets you save money on air conditioning.

If you are considering solar, now is the right time to do it. The solar investment tax credit is slated to start winding down. After the end of 2021, business owners will only be able to claim a 10% credit on the cost of installation, so you need to go solar within two years to unlock its maximum value.

Make sure your solar panels don’t infringe upon the condition of your roof with a solar panel mount system, which can be used on virtually any industrial or commercial building with a flat or low slope roof.

Reflective Roof Membranes

Reflective roof membranes are a less expensive way to achieve some of the benefits of something like a green roof, and they can also be used in concert with solar panels and other energy-saving approaches.

The concept of a reflective roof membrane is relatively simple. A white membrane reflects light, and therefore heat. According to the Department of Energy, a white reflective roof can be up to 50 degrees cooler than a traditional dark roof under the same conditions.

With a reflective roof, it becomes much easier to cool the occupants inside, saving on energy costs. It can also disperse the urban heat island effect, making its surroundings cooler as well. Lastly, the reflective coating reduces heat stress on the membrane and the materials underneath, potentially increasing the lifespan of the roof itself.

Make Sustainable Roofs a Reality with PHP Systems/Design

Here at PHP, we’re focused on bringing sustainable roofs to life. With tools such as cable trays and solar panel mounts, we let you upgrade your roof with sustainable materials while at the same time protecting those materials from heavy foot traffic or excessive weight. If you want to upgrade your roof with green materials and structures without penetrating the roof membrane, consider the possibilities with a custom roof walkway design today.

Topics: Roof Architecture

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