Is Roofing Part of Your Energy Management Strategy? Part 1

With the continuing volatility of oil and gas prices, two things have become increasingly important to the owners and managers of buildings of all shapes, sizes and locations: energy management and cool roofing. And yet, the two are seldom discussed as related issues. If you ask a building owner or manager about their energy management strategies, chances are they’ll mention a variety of “high-tech” solutions for improving building automation, systems interoperability, and the energy efficiency of their lighting, office equipment, security systems, and the biggest electricity consumer of all – air conditioning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $40 billion is spent annually to air condition commercial buildings, which is one-sixth of all electricity consumed in the United States.

Important as these high-tech solutions are, the enormous energy savings potential from smart “low-tech” roofing decisions are typically regarded as a traditional “building envelope” issue. But smart roofing decisions can reduce annual air conditioning consumption by 10 to 40 percent, depending on location, building design, climate, and other factors. This not only reduces air conditioning loads and utility bills, but can also allow facilities to downsize their air conditioning equipment considerably.

The Cool Roofing Trend

Roofing can contribute to energy efficiency in two ways – proper insulation, and reflective surfaces. Thermal roofing insulation became a major consideration during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. Proper insulation helps keep warm air in during the winter and out during the summer. Insulation needs 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 phenomenal growth of “cool roofing” – the use of white or light-colored roof surfaces that reflect solar energy and keep building relatively cooler in summer months. Although the overall market for commercial low-sloped (flat, or nearly flat) roofing has been stagnant in recent years, demand for cool roofing systems has continued to grow strongly. More than just a sensible, long-term, “green” building design solution, cool roofing is considered by many scientists, industry experts, and government officials to be an effective means of addressing critical national energy efficiency and environmental challenges.

In our next installment we will discuss: How Cool Roofing Works.

The True Price Of High Performance

Oxymoron, n: a combination of contradictory words (such as sustainability costs more)

Contrary to popular wisdom, when it comes to the building and construction industry, profitability and sustainability go hand-in-hand. In fact, if a new building component doesn’t contribute to business profitability, it is not sustainable.

Sustainability, or high performance design, is often equated with “green design.” However, high performance design is about making financially smart building choices, not just being “green.” Consumers typically will not pay for something that is green unless there’s a financial benefit as well. Sustainability is good business sense first – green comes with it.

High performance building projects address issues related to the design, construction, maintenance, rehabilitation and eventual demolition of a building with an emphasis throughout the building’s lifecycle on using resources efficiently and preserving the global environment.

The profitability of high performance design must be considered for the entire life-cycle of a building, not simply the initial cost of construction. Typically, a roofing system with a low initial cost is a teaser that fails to consider all of the costs associated with the roof over its useful life. A long-lasting, high-performance system delivers a lower cost of ownership spread out over a longer period of time, requiring fewer repeated expenses related to maintenance, repair, and replacement. Plus, benefits such as energy savings can reduce life-cycle costs even further.

Recently, a contractor called to say that he was going to change his approach to selling roofing after a building owner said that the Duro-Last roof was the least expensive roof he had ever bought. It seems that the building owner was a banker who calculated that the Duro-Last roof was costing him 30% less per year in maintenance, repairs and frequent replacements than the modified bitumen roofs that he had always used before.

A smart investment because it costs less over its life span, a high performance roofing system is the ideal choice for sustainable facilities.

What Attributes Of A Duro-Last® Roof Can Help With LEED® Ratings?

The U.S. Green Building Council has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System to help in the design and construction of buildings that have minimum negative impact on occupants and the environment. LEED provides standards for choosing products based on environmental attributes. LEED does not certify materials or products.

So what are the attributes of a Duro-Last roof that can help with soon-to-be enacted changes to LEED-NC ratings?



ENERGY STAR® labeled product with a Solar Reflectance Index equal to or greater than 78 (Duro-Last is 110) Sustainable Sites Credits 7.2
Exceeds ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1
Extend the lifecycle of an existing structure, reduce the load on air conditioning units, and reduce a buildings impact on the environment. Materials & Resources Credits 1.1 & 1.2
Custom prefabrication eliminates waste at the jobsite, scrap and trim are 100% recyclable, with four manufacturing facilities requiring less than 500 miles of shipping. Materials & Resources Credits 2.1 – 2.2, 4.1 – 4.2, 5.1 – 5.2
Two-way vent system keeps negative air pressures and condensation in check, high reflectivity keeps building cooler. Indoor Environmental Quality Credits 2 and 7.1

All in all, Duro-Last Cool Zone® can help with obtaining 13 – 31 points toward the minimum LEED certification of 40 – 49 points.

Black Roofs vs. White Roofs: Energy Information Sides With White Roofs

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the perceived benefits of black roofs compared with white roofs.

Those living in a northern climate may think that summertime energy savings realized with a white roof will be offset by the elimination of a beneficial heating gain that might occur with a black roof in the winter; that the heating benefit of a black roof is greater than the cooling benefit of a white roof. However, several factors make any potential wintertime heat gain from a black roof relatively immaterial:

  • The laws of physics dictate that hot air will always rise. Thus, any heat that is transferred to the interior of a building structure from the outside will remain at the top of the structure, providing minimal heating benefits to occupants below.
  • In all parts of North America in the winter, there are fewer hours of sunlight available to contribute to warm a building. In fact, in some areas, there is more than a six-hour difference between peak-summer and peak-winter sunlight. Plus, the angle of the sun is less direct, which also helps to minimize potential warming.
  • In many areas, roofs are covered with snow for much of the winter, turning them “white,” and eliminating any potential black roof heat gain.
  • The energy required to air condition a building in the summer is usually considerably greater than the energy to heat it in the winter, making the potential for summer energy cost savings much greater with a highly reflective white roof than winter savings with a heat absorbing black roof.

Project of the Month: Merrick, Inc., Vadnais Heights, Minnesota

The Duro-Last roofing system has been installed on the Merrick, Inc. building in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. The project was completed at the end of August 2008 and is the largest solar electric application in the state, with 525 solar panels installed that are expected to produce 130,000 kilowatts of electricity a year. Beneath the solar electric system, the building is protected by over 50,000 square feet of Duro-Last’s single-ply PVC roofing system.

Merrick’s prefabricated roofing system was manufactured at Duro-Last’s Sigourney, Iowa, facility and installed by authorized contractor Four Seasons Energy Efficient Roofing, Inc. of Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. “Duro-Last’s white membrane was the ideal system for this installation because it is solar-ready. It’s easy to install, and because it’s prefabricated, I can be confident that Merrick won’t have to worry about leaks underneath the solar system,” said Darrell Schaapveld, owner of Four Seasons.

The Duro-Last roofing system is an excellent sustainability choice. The white membrane’s high reflectivity benefits the building in rooftop areas where sunlight is not being collected by the solar panels. Because every Duro-Last roof is factory-prefabricated, less on-site waste is produced during installation.

The Duro-Last-plus-solar roofing assembly complements the buildings many other sustainable building features. Among them: a geothermal energy system under the parking lot, powered by the rooftop solar panels, will provide both heating and cooling; every room will have occupancy sensors to control electrical usage; the building will have energy-efficient insulation and windows throughout, maximizing natural light.

According to Duro-Last Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Steve Ruth, “This installation reinforces our leadership in the sustainable roofing market. The Duro-Last roofing system is increasingly being installed throughout the United States as the waterproofing membrane of choice for solar, vegetative, and other ‘green’ building applications.”

Green Dictionary

Carbon Footprint – a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a person, organization, or location at a given time.

Cool Roof – a roof that reflects the sun’s heat and emits absorbed radiation back into the atmosphere.

Closed-loop process – an environmentally friendly production system in which any industrial output is capable of being recycled to create another product.

ENERGY STAR® – a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Greenwashing – the practice of promoting environmentally friendly programs to deflect attention from an organization’s environmentally unfriendly or less savory activities.

Green building – the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.

ISO 1400 – addresses various aspects of environmental management. The first two standards, ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14004:2004 deal with environmental management systems (EMS). ISO 14001:2204 provides the requirements for an EMS and ISO 14004:2004 gives general EMS guidelines.

Post-consumer recycled content – material from products that were used by consumers or businesses and would otherwise be discarded as waste.

Post-consumer waste – materials or finished products that have served their intended use and have been diverted or recovered from waste destined for disposal, having completed their lives as consumer items.

Recycled content – made from materials that would otherwise have been discarded. Items are made totally or partially from material destined for disposal or recovered from industrial activities-like aluminum soda cans or newspaper. Also, can be items that are rebuilt or remanufactured from used products such as toner cartridges or computers.

Recycling – to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse.

Reuse – to use again, especially after salvaging or special treatment or processing.

Sustainability – meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


No “Greenwashing” With AIA

The American Institute of Architects recognizes that sustainable design has become an integral part of the design community. Beginning January 1, 2009 the AIA will require all members to complete four hours of sustainable design training. The four sustainable design hours will be included as part of the eight hour health, safety and welfare (HSW) requirement.

To qualify as sustainable design learning units, course content must meet four thresholds:

1. It must address the AIA definition of sustainability.

2. It must be a structured (third party) program (i.e. no self-study).

3. At least 75% of program content must qualify as HSW.

4. Its primary purpose must address at least one of the AIA Committee on the

Environment Top Measures of Sustainable Design and Performance Metrics.

Because we have always tried to offer training that addresses current and future needs of the industry, Duro-Last already offers three courses that meet the AIA requirements.

The AIA is also concerned with “greenwashing” – the overuse of words such as “green” or “sustainable.” So, after January 1, 2009 new or on-going programs will require pre-approval by AIA in order to use these and similar words in the title of a program.

When the AIA provides additional guidelines, be assured that Duro-Last will make the proper modifications to program titles and will appropriately register our on-going programs so that our architectural customers can receive proper credit.

The Energy Savings Quest Takes On A New Intensity

Issued in 1999, Executive Order 13123 established a mandate for federal agencies to reduce energy consumption 30 percent by 2005 and 35 percent by 2010. It also stated that agencies must use ENERGY STAR® products when available and must use life-cycle and energy cost analyses when selecting products. In January of 2007 that Executive Order was revoked by President Bush and replaced with Executive Order 13423.

Executive Order 13423 is intended to strengthen federal environmental, energy, and transportation management. This Order not only addresses energy usage but also emphasizes use of sustainable environmental practices and improved transportation management.

The Executive Order stipulates that at least half the required renewable energy consumed must come from new renewable sources. Other key goals can be met, in part, through the use of PVC (vinyl) roofing systems:

1. Agencies must reduce energy intensity (energy consumption per square foot of building space) by 3 percent annually through 2015 or 30 percent by 2015 relative to 2003.

– Highly-reflective vinyl roofing systems can reduce a building’s cooling load and energy consumption.

2. When acquiring goods and services, agencies must utilize sustainable environmental practices, including the use of products with traits such as energy efficiency, water efficiency and recycled content.

– PVC roofing systems typically require less energy to manufacture than other types of systems. In addition, the production of vinyl roofing membrane often includes the recycling of manufacturing scrap.

3. Agencies must reduce the quantity of toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials used, and divert materials from solid waste disposal when possible.

– PVC roofing systems can be mechanically-attached, eliminating hazardous chemicals from the installation process. In addition, vinyl systems have a proven history of recyclability at the end of their roofing lives; some PVC roofing manufacturers – including Duro-Last – have established programs to recycle post-consumer roofing systems.

Project of the Month: Bardessono Inn & Spa, Yountville, California

The Duro-Last roofing system has been installed on the Bardessono Inn & Spa in Yountville, California. The spa is scheduled to open in February 2009, and will be submitted to the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED Platinum certification. The spa consists of five separate buildings that are protected by almost 80,000 square feet of Duro-Last’s single-ply PVC roofing system.

The spa’s prefabricated roofing system was manufactured at Duro-Last’s Grants Pass, Oregon, facility and installed by authorized contractor Fidelity Roof Company of Oakland, California. Fidelity is also an approved installer for SunPower, the manufacturer of the PowerGuard solar electrical system that will provide electricity to the spa.

The Duro-Last roofing system is a key component of this sustainable construction project. The white membrane has reflectivity and emittance characteristics that exceed California’s Title 24 building requirements. Because it’s prefabricated, less on-site waste is produced during installation. As a company, Duro-Last recycles manufacturing scrap back into roofing membrane or other construction products. And unlike other roofing materials, the Duro-Last system is also recyclable at the end of its useful life.

The Duro-Last-plus-solar roofing assembly complements the spas many other sustainable building features. Among them: a ground source heat pump will provide both heating and cooling; every room will have occupancy sensors to control electrical usage; the spa makes extensive use of wood salvaged from native California trees; concrete and steel materials include a high percentage of recycled content; low-VOC paints and adhesives are used throughout the complex.

Steve Ruth, Duro-Last Vice President of Sales, said, “This project makes a strong environmental statement, and we’re proud to be an important part of it. The fact that the Duro-Last system has been installed on the Bardessono facility reinforces our leadership in the sustainable roofing arena.”

Cool Roofs are Hot

More commercial developers and owners of commercial buildings are installing “cool” roofs to increase the life of the roof and potentially lower operating costs.

Conventional flat roofs are black, and black materials absorb more heat, leading to warmer building. A cool roof is lighter in color and made of materials that tend to reflect light and heat. The result is a cooler building, which cuts air-conditioning costs in the summer. In fact, on a hot day, a black roof can be 70 degrees hotter than the air temperature, compared with only 20 degrees hotter for a cool roof.

In the past, some in northern climes have resisted cool roofs because they were thought to increase heating costs in the winter. Now a recent study of cool and conventional roofs by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that in virtually the entire country, the summer air-conditioning savings of cool roofs are greater than the increased heating cost in the winter.

There are other benefits of cool roofs that make them attractive, particularly for commercial structures:

  • Cool roofs tend to last longer because they suffer less thermal stress than conventional roofs do.
  • Cool roofs reduce the urban heat island, because the building structure is cooler. The heat island effect in one of the causes of the formation of smog and greenhouse gases.
  • A cool roof helps a building qualify as environmentally friendly by the U.S. Green Building Council, which is of interest to a growing number of tenants.

Cool roofs typically cost the same or only slightly more than conventional roofs to install.

Gray, Thomas O. AIA, DRS Architects. “Cool Roofs are Hot.” Post-Gazette Now

3 Sept. 2008. Business. 3 Sept. 2008 <