No Energy Savings From My Cool Roof – What Gives?

Okay, so you installed a cool roofing system, but since the building already had so much insulation you haven’t noticed any energy savings. What’s the point?

True. High reflectivity is a key characteristic that helps keep buildings cooler and can reduce energy usage. As much as 40% less cooling energy may be needed for buildings that have highly-reflective roofs. But even if a building is very well insulated, here are some other valuable benefits from cool roofing:

Insulation can be 25%-50% more effective

Studies have shown that extremely high temperatures reduce the effective R-value of the most widely used types of insulation (Leonard & Leonard, 2005). Cooler surfaces help preserve and keep rooftop insulation materials cooler.

HVAC equipment can operate more efficiently

Inlet air temperatures can be 5-15 degrees cooler 30 inches above a cool roofing surface compared to a black surface. Most rooftop HVAC units are designed with efficiency ratings evaluated at 95°F (York International, 2005); rooftop temperatures on a black surface can reach 160°F or higher, meaning that HVAC units will not operate at peak efficiency.

Substrate deterioration may be slowed by as much as 75%

Ultraviolet and infrared radiation and moisture penetration accelerate substrate deterioration. A cool roofing system will reflect this radiation and help protect the substrate (Kirn et. Al., 1994).

Ambient interior temperatures can be up to 20°F cooler than outside

Studies of worker performance with machine operation and high physical activity reveal that productivity drops 10% at 84°F and 38% at 95°F (Schweisheimer, W., 1962). So even if a building is not air conditioned occupants will still notice improved comfort on hot days.

Preparing for Hurricanes

Hurricane season officially began on June 1, and although those storms directly affect only a portion of the United States, building and roof preparation lessons can be applied to any areas of the country where severe weather can pop up.

The roof is the most important building component when it comes to weather protection and the most vulnerable during a hurricane event. Proper precautions are recommended to limit damage. If you’re not able to conduct these preparations yourself, don’t hesitate to call in a commercial roofing professional or other construction expert in your area.

Here are a few important things to consider:

Exterior of the Building

Walk the perimeter of building to ensure that any unsecured objects cannot become airborne projectiles. This includes trash cans, signs, trees limbs, and loose building materials. Trees should have all dead or broken branches removed and should be trimmed away from the building to prevent possible fires.

Windows/Doors

Windows and doors should be inspected for leaks, insect damage and proper sealant. If windows and doors are not equipped with hurricane shutters, these can easily be fabricated from plywood. It’s a good idea to have the plywood pre-cut for fast installation in the event of an upcoming storm.

Perimeter of the Building

Roof edge details should be checked to ensure that they are tight fitting and properly sealed. Corners of the building are the most susceptible to wind damage and additional precautions may be necessary in these areas.

Drainage

All debris and loose materials should be removed from the roof. Leaf grates, if part of the roofing system, should be cleaned and secured in a manner that keeps them in place during high winds.

HVAC/Rooftop equipment/Other penetrations

Check all sealants on penetrations and terminations. All roof mounted equipment (HVAC units, satellite dishes, antennas, duct work, etc.) should be secured in a manner which will not allow it to be moved easily. If it can be moved by hand it could become displaced in a storm. All service panel doors should be inspected to ensure that they are properly fastened. Any missing fasteners should be replaced.

LEAVE!

If civil authorities tell you to evacuate, do it! Buildings and building components that are damaged or destroyed during a severe storm can be replaced. You can’t.

Cause and Effect (or Robbing Peter to Pay Paul)

Energy savings analysis has been around for years. There are any number of Internet-based calculators, formulas and procedures for estimating the savings associated with products or actions undertaken to reduce or avoid energy usage. Energy savings is but one component of a much more comprehensive analytical process referred to as life cycle analysis or LCA. But LCA is not nearly so well-defined. Unlike energy savings analysis, which considers a limited number of variables that can be reasonably well defined and quantified, there is no uniform procedure for LCA.

There are some Internet-based calculators for LCA, but they range from being over-simplified to exceedingly complex; from being biased toward individual products or special interests to being overly generic and meaningless. Some approaches to LCA only consider short term direct financial burdens while others consider more indirect or subjective costs both upstream and downstream in the life of a product.

A mainly financial LCA approach for comparing roof systems might consider the following:

  • Installation – product cost, installation costs, tear-off costs, disposal costs, business disruption costs.
  • Long Term Durability – routine maintenance costs, roof replacement costs.
  • Repairs – roof repair costs, interior damage repair costs.
  • Energy Savings – estimated savings, rebates and incentives.
  • Warranty – cost premiums.

On the other hand, a highly comprehensive environmental-based approach might entail the evaluation of all material and energy inputs and outputs at every stage, from the creation of natural resources through extraction, manufacture, use, and demolition, and disposal of a product. Consider the complexity of the following extreme LCA flow example:

BANG ? Earth Appears ? Life Begins ? Dinosaurs/Other Creatures Appear ? Creatures Die/Turn Into Fossil Fuels ? Human Race Appears/Evolves ? Resources Extracted (fossil fuels, salt, etc.) ? Resources Transported to be Processed/Refined ? Process/Refine Raw Materials ? Process Components (film, scrim) ? Produce Product Components (membrane, rigid parts, etc.) ? Transport for Fabrication ? Fabricate and Assemble The Duro-Last® Cool Zone® Roofing System ? Deliver to Jobsite ? Installation ? Roof In Action (energy savings/heat island mitigation/global warming or cooling or both) ? End of Useful Life ? Removal/Disposal ? Recycle and/or Transport to Landfill ? 100,000 to 1 Million Years of Decay and Revert to Fossil Fuels, Salt, etc. ? Another BANG!? Or Re-Extraction?

Although this second example seems extreme or absurd, it makes the point that there can be limitless considerations in a comprehensive LCA. The difficulty comes in deciding how far to go and making fair and objective assumptions of all criteria at each stage in the life of the product or system. One of the best things LCA helps accomplish is identification of opportunities for improvement. The important thing to remember in addressing this continuous improvement process is to remember that every action has a reaction, so don’t rob Peter to pay Pa

Three Ways To Make A Roof Last Longer

Occasionally, we come across articles that we feel will be beneficial to our readers. John D’Annunzio has written a series of articles for FacilitiesNet discussing factors that determine roof longevity. Below is a brief description and link to each article.

Part 1: Proper Design Improves Roof Longevity

This first article discusses key components to proper design that include wind uplift calculations, drainage design, thermal factors, perimeter edge design, and existing building conditions. It also discusses the selection of materials and systems that are compatible with existing building conditions. Proper design should always focus on providing a long-term roofing system.

Part 2: Focus On Roofing Materials And Workmanship To Improve Longevity

The second installment explains that not all roof materials are the same and not all materials are suitable for all buildings. Applied materials should be new, free of all excess moisture, and manufactured in compliance with ASTM standards. Proper material storage at the project site is also required.

In addition, the roof is one of the only major building components that is partially or fully constructed on-site. A large percentage of premature roof failures occur due to improper workmanship.

Part 3: How Weather And Maintenance Impact Roof Longevity

Finally, the third article describes how applications of roofing materials in conditions not suitable to the material’s constraints (too hot, too cold, in wet weather) will contribute to premature failure.

No matter the roof type, all roofs require a certain level of attention. Roofs are exposed to the elements 24 hours a day, every day of the year. One of the most important reasons to implement an annual roof maintenance program is to extend the service life of the existing roof system.

Will Climategate Freeze Up Cool Roofing Sales?

In case you haven’t seen it in the news recently, another conspiracy and cover-up has been discovered and is being referred to as “Climategate.” It seems there has been some manipulation of the database of historical temperature data that has been used to support the concept of global warming. A string of emails between scientists has been uncovered that indicates there has been some manipulation and/or deletion of data that did not support global warming theories, bringing into question the validity of graphs and studies that suggest the earth is warming because of human activities.

So what does this have to do with cool roofing? Can cool roofing really influence global climate? Energy Secretary Steven Chu thinks so. Some studies have shown that cool roofing can indeed help reduce urban heat islands. This may be true, but given the recent buzz noted above, is the data in those studies also suspect?

There may be some influence on urban heat islands from cool roofs, but the real and practical proven influence cool roofing has is on energy usage. Science isn’t even necessary to prove to building owners that cool roofing reduces air conditioning needs. All that a building owner needs to do is open his or her July utility bill.

Savings in summer electricity use for air conditioning is real, and even if there is some heating penalty (the idea that white roofs will prevent a building from warming up in winter), that penalty is almost always less than the benefits from reduced cooling loads.

Made to Move: Single ply roofing systems provide strong defense against leaks

By Dana Howell

Damschroder Roofing LLC

This article is reprinted with permission from Properties Magazine.

Does your building have a flat roof that has been a constant problem? Do you find yourself making what seems to be never ending repairs to your flat roof? Are you convinced that there is no flat roof out there that doesn’t leak? Do you find yourself asking the question why would anyone construct a building with a flat roof? All these questions/concerns are legitimate flat roof questions.

Let’s start at the beginning. Why would you build a structure with a flat roof? There are actually many reasons, but the main reason is space. A flat roof supported by columns gives you a much larger floor plan, typically seen in banquet halls, strip malls and warehouses.

Now we understand one reason these structures are built, but what causes them to be a constant problem keeping them from leaking? Again, there are many factors, but at this time I would like to focus on just one: movement. Any time you have temperatures that fluctuate as they do in the Midwest, you will experience movement. With this being said, if your flat roof is not able to withstand movement you experience failure. This is why splitting and cracking can often be seen.

A great solution to this problem was the invention of single ply roofing. Single ply roofs are roofs that protect a building through one layer of roofing membrane as opposed to the old multi-layers of tar felt and gravel. Two popular types of single ply roofing in our region include rubber (EPDM) and roofing materials containing plastic compounds such as PVC’s (Poly Vinyl Chloride). These membranes are able to move more freely to take on the expansion and contraction often seen in large buildings.

The trend in flat roofing is clearly moving toward the single ply roofing systems over the multiple ply. Single ply roofing has been on the increase for many years while multiple ply roofs have been seeing a significant decrease in the market shard of flat roofing.

Rubber was the dominant single ply during the 1960s through the mid 1980s. Rubber is installed several different ways. Some are installed by overlapping the sheets of rubber and covering them with river rock called ballast. Others are glued or screwed to the deck. The seams are then glued together with the hope of providing a long lasting water proofing solution. The major problem associated with rubber roofs is de-lamination. De-lamination is the breaking down of the glue or adhesive that holds the sheets of rubber together.

Heat welded roofs are made of plastic compounds such as PVC. Heat welded roofing systems are the fastest growing portion of the single ply roofing industry. The welding together of PVC sheets at the seams provides a permanent and stronger bond than glues or tapes. The Duro-last Corporation in Saginaw, Michigan actually pre-welds sheets of membrane up to 2,500 square feet in their factory, thus most of the seams of a deck sheet are welded under ideal conditions.

For more information, call Damschroder Roofing LLC at 888-307-2785 or visit www.damschroderroofing.com.

How to Find a Reputable Roofing Contractor

The answer may not be as hard as you think. Here are a few possibilities to consider:

  1. Check the telephone directory’s yellow pages. Browse the “roofing” section for the names of local people you can call for an estimate. Sometimes the ads will have specific information about the person, such as location, hours of operation, whether they accept credit card payments, and whether they provide free estimates. Call two or three contractors, so you can have a better chance to hire the right contractor for the job.
  2. Contact the Better Business Bureau. While this organization will not provide a list of names for you to call, it can give you an indication of someone’s response to complaints so that you get an idea of his or her character and reputation.
  3. Contact local roofer-related organizations. There may be roofer or construction groups in your area that can tell you what to look for in a roofing contractor, and perhaps recommend a few names.
  4. Ask building supply stores. Often they keep a list of roofers they recommend to pass along to people who are looking for consulting or hands-on help with building projects.
  5. Building companies and roofing contractors increasingly have a web presence. A good contractor web site will have photos of projects they’ve done as well as testimonials from satisfied customers.
  6. Ask for referrals. Wherever you get the name of a possible roofer for your project, follow up by contacting his references. You may even want to take a glance at the contractor’s workmanship on previous projects, if the building owner will allow access to the roof.
  7. Pay in portions. Never pay in full for a roofing job before completion of the project. You can pay a portion if you really want to, but agree to this with the contractor up front.

According to the National Roofing Contractors Association most rooftop problems are caused by installation workmanship, not material failure. Your roofing system is certainly the most critical part of your building when it comes to watertight protection, and you should make sure to hire a contractor who can be trusted to install the system correctly and stand behind their work.

Fall Hazard Control: Part 1

The construction industry has historically addressed safety concerns primarily as a behavioral issue, with each stage of a project determining the specific hazards that might be encountered during that stage. For example, the construction phase of a facilities life cycle would typically have different workers and hazards than the operations phase, etc. As facility owners become more aware of the soaring cost of workplace injuries and are held more accountable for all phases of a project life cycle, enlightened organizations are acknowledging that certain hazards are indeed present throughout all phases of a project or facilities life cycle.

“Constructability” is a project management technique that reviews a project’s processes from start to finish, during the pre-construction phase. As the chart shows, the cumulative value of constructability (the curved line) increases over time, particularly during the latter stages of a building’s O&M phase and renovation phase.

Fall hazard control is increasingly recognized as uniquely able to prevent significant potential injury cost. When implemented and planned into the design of facilities as part of a constructability analysis, it will spread its value across all phases of a building’s life cycle.

A core concept in the use of constructability to address fall hazard control is an understanding of the hierarchy of preference of controls. This refers to the overall value and effectiveness of the three types of fall hazard control: elimination, prevention, and protection from the effects of a fall.

Here are a couple of examples of how fall hazard control might be included in a constructability analysis:

  • The installation of strategically-placed fixed anchorage points (that can be used for both fall prevention and fall protection) can reduce costs throughout ALL phases of a building’s life cycle.
  • Properly designed parapet walls (minimally 39 inches in height and enclosing the entire rooftop) is ultimately the most effective way of reducing potential fall hazards by enabling fall prevention for all future work or equipment repairs and additions.

Over the course of the next three posts we will discuss each of the three types of fall hazard control; here is a brief overview:

Elimination

This is the first and most effective line of defense against falls from heights. To do it requires a careful assessment of the workplace and the work itself. The “who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much” of each exposure is considered. This pre-consideration of the work and site often not only leads to eliminating the hazard altogether but also identifies alternative approaches to the work that can measurably enhance productivity.

Prevention

The second line of defense and often the most realistic when fall hazards cannot be entirely eliminated, is prevention. This also requires assessment of the workplace and work process. It involves making changes to the workplace so as to preclude the need to rely on the worker’s behavior and personal protection equipment to prevent falls.

Protection

Protection from the effects of a fall is the last line of defense. It should be considered only after determining that the fall hazard cannot be eliminated or the possibility of falling prevented. This is the domain of fall protection and calls for equipment such as safety nets or harnesses, lanyards, shock absorbers, fall arresters, lifelines, and anchorage connectors.

Cool Roofing Tax Incentives

Two main Federal tax incentives exist for installation of cool roofing, but as with any Federal government program there are qualifications that need to be met.

Residential Tax Credit

At this time, single-ply membranes are not eligible for a tax credit on residential applications. However, if additional insulation is installed during roof replacement, the cost of the insulation can be claimed as a credit.

Commercial Tax Deduction

In general, tax law allows a deduction for part or all of the cost of energy efficient building property that the taxpayer places in service between December 31, 2005 and December 31, 2013. Several conditions must be met to qualify for the commercial tax deduction:

1. The building must be within the U.S. and must meet the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001 – Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.

2. To qualify for the maximum total combined deduction for all lighting, HVAC, hot water, and building envelope property installed, the total annual energy and power costs of the building must be reduced by at least 50 percent. A partial deduction is allowed for each separate building system. The IRS set the following target reductions in March 2008:

  • Interior lighting – 20%
  • HVAC and hot water – 20%
  • Building envelope – 10%

Cool roofing is partially qualifying if it is estimated to reduce the total annual energy and power costs by 10 percent or more. The maximum deduction amount for partially qualifying property is $0.60 per square foot of the building.

3. The Performance Rating Method (PRM) must be used to compute the percentage reduction. Calculations are based on a reference building located in the same climate zone as the taxpayer’s building and containing the new building component that has been incorporated, but is otherwise identical to the reference building. The Department of Energy maintains a list of qualified software to be used to calculate energy and power costs for certification.

4. To claim the deduction, the taxpayer must obtain a certification provided by a qualified individual. The taxpayer is not required to attach the certification to the tax return, but the taxpayer must maintain proper records to establish the entitlement. A qualified individual:

  • is not related to the taxpayer claiming the deduction;
  • is an engineer or contractor that is properly licensed as a professional engineer or contractor in the jurisdiction in which the building is located; and
  • Has represented in writing to the taxpayer that he or she has the requisite qualifications.

A certification must contain:

  • the name, address, and telephone number of the qualified individual;
  • the address of the building to which the certification applies;
  • one of five statements (as outlined by the IRS) explaining the manner in which the building envelope property satisfies energy efficiency requirements.

Why Cool Roofs Are Way Cool

By Cool Roof Rating Council

A cool roof reflects and emits the sun’s energy as light back to the sky instead of allowing it to enter the building below as heat. In many climate zones, a cool roof can substantially reduce the cooling load of the building, providing several direct benefits to the building owner and occupants:

  • Increased occupant comfort, especially during hot summer months
  • Reduced air conditioning use, resulting in energy savings typically – 10-30%1, and
  • Decreased roof maintenance costs due to longer roof life.

Cool roofs benefit the environment and public health in additional ways. As recognition of these benefits has become more widespread, cool roof requirements are appearing in building energy codes and green building programs across the nation.

Climate Change Mitigation

Cool roofs reduce greenhouse gas emissions by conserving electricity for air conditioning; less CO2 is emitted from power plants. Cool roofs also help cool the world, simply by reflecting the sun’s energy back to the atmosphere, thereby mitigating global warming. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that world-wide reflective roofing will produce a global cooling effect equivalent to offsetting 24 gigatons of CO2 over the lifetime of the roofs. This equates to $600 billion in savings from CO2 emissions reduction.2

Urban Heat Island Mitigation

Cities can be 2° to 8°F warmer than surrounding areas due to dark materials, including roofs, which absorb the sun’s light energy as heat during the day and release it at night as heat.3 This phenomenon prevents air from cooling down at night and results in higher temperatures being maintained longer. By immediately reflecting solar radiation back into the atmosphere and reemitting some portion of it as infrared light, cool roofs result in cooler air temperatures for urban environments during hot summer months.

Urban Heat Island Profile

Reduced Smog

Cool roofs, through mitigation of the urban heat island effect and reduction of ambient air temperatures, in turn improve air quality. Smog is created by photochemical reactions of air pollutants and these reactions increase at higher temperatures. Therefore, by reducing the air temperature, cool roofs decrease the rate of smog formation.

Public Health Benefits

Lower ambient air temperatures and the subsequent improved air quality also result in a reduction in heat-related and smog-related health issues, including heat stroke and asthma.

Peak Energy Savings and Grid Stability

Because cool roofs reduce air-conditioning use during the day’s hottest periods, the associated energy savings occur when the demand for electricity is at its peak. Therefore, cool roofs reduce stress on the energy grid during hot summer months and helps avoid shortages that can cause blackouts or brownouts. In addition, for building owners that pay for energy based on the time of use, they save energy – and more money – when it is at its most expensive.

Secondary Energy Benefits

Cool roofs directly reduce air conditioning use for buildings by reducing heat gain in the building below, but they also indirectly reduce air conditioning use in urban areas by helping lower ambient air temperatures. Cooler daytime temperatures mean that buildings and vehicles use less air conditioning and save additional energy. In turn, this results in a reduction in the CO2 emissions from electricity generating power plants.

The Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) is a non-profit membership organization. Formed in 1998, the CRRC maintains a credible, third-party rating system to measure and label the radiative properties of roofing materials. Please visit the CRRC at www.coolroofs.org.

1Energystar.gov

2 Akbar, H. (2008). Global Cooling: Increasing Solar Reflectance of Urban Areas to Offset CO2. In press, Climate Change.

3 Energystar.gov