With the frigid temperatures of winter come high heat bills. For commercial business owners, this means finding ways to increase energy efficiency and save money on heating costs.
In recent years, energy-efficient roofs have become more popular among commercial building owners looking to lower their energy costs. And for good reason — sustainable commercial roofs offer considerable energy savings, as well as the additional benefits of durability and reduced maintenance.
Choosing the right commercial roof is a win-win for you and the environment. A sustainable roof allows you to contribute to a greener environment while saving money on heating and cooling costs. To help you determine which type of sustainable roof is right for your building, we’re sharing some of the top roofing solutions available for sustainability and energy savings.
Sustainable roofing materials should be durable, low maintenance, and, ideally, recyclable…while also maximizing energy efficiency. PVC roofing fits the bill on all fronts.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) roofing, such as Duro-Last, is a single-ply roofing membrane ideal for flat or low-sloped roofs. Extremely durable, it is also watertight, low maintenance, and resistant to chemicals, fire, and high winds. PVC roofs are long-lasting, coming with warranties covering up to 30 years. Plus, they can be recycled at the end of their lives.
Additionally, PVC roofing is often referred to as “cool roofing” because it reflects a significant portion of the sun’s energy (often in excess of 80%), greatly reducing your building’s energy costs. This type of roofing is also solar ready, meaning rooftop solar panels can be installed on it to increase energy savings even further.
TPO roofing (or Thermoplastic Polyolefin roofing) is a flexible, highly resilient roofing solution. It is durable, lasting about 30 years, at which point it can be recycled.
TPO roofing is chemical- and UV light-resistant. It is also resistant to fats and oils, making it an ideal choice for restaurants or other businesses who work with those substances.
Like PVC, TPO roofing is a “cool roofing” solution, conserving energy by reflecting heat away from the building. This helps reduce the need for air conditioning during hot weather, lowering your electricity bills and reducing the environmental impact of cooling systems. It also helps minimize urban heat islands by reducing the amount of heat that is trapped in densely built areas.
Ethylene Propylene Diene Methylene roofing — or EPDM roofing — is a type of rubber roofing solution. It is made of synthetic rubber and is a popular choice for flat and low-sloped commercial roofs because it is resistant to sunlight and ozone. EPDM roofing is versatile, easy to install and maintain, and comes in two color choices: black (to help absorb heat in cold climates) or white (to cool your roof in warmer weather).
Rubber roofs are durable, especially against extreme temperatures and weather conditions. They are pliable and waterproof, and can last up to 50 years…double the lifespan of most traditional roofs. At the end of its useful life, rubber roofing can be recycled.
Metal roofing is one of the most eco-friendly roofing materials available. It is often made of recycled materials (such as used beverage cans), and can include a variety of metals, such as aluminum, steel, copper, zinc, or tin. Plus, it can be recycled again at the end of its life.
This type of roofing is highly energy efficient, offering both insulation and cooling properties. A study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy found that metal roofs promote energy conservation, in part, because they require good ventilation (metal is an excellent heat conductor — without ventilation it can cause your building to heat up). They found that, with proper ventilation, a metal roof can offer a 25% reduction in cooling costs and a 45% reduction in heat flow.
In addition, metal roofs reflect sunlight, keeping your building cooler in warm weather. In winter, they keep warm air in and cold air out, and can help prevent ice dams by allowing snow to cascade off more easily. You can choose from lighter colors to further increase reflective properties or darker colors to absorb more heat in cold weather.
Metal roofing is highly durable, with the potential to last 50-100 years. It is fire resistant, won’t rot, crack, or warp, and can withstand objects falling onto it. Plus, it requires little to no work to maintain.
Green roofs (also called living roofs) incorporate vegetation — typically a combination of plants and grass. Green roofing is a growing trend for businesses, as many areas are beginning to offer tax incentives for installing green roofs.
An ideal way to add greenery to urban areas, roof greenery helps fight climate change, improve air quality in the surrounding area, and moderate your building’s temperature. Roof plants act as natural insulation, significantly lowering your energy costs. They also help protect the environment by absorbing water runoff, thus minimizing rain runoff that would normally go to a storm sewer.
This type of roofing is extremely durable, often lasting for 30-50 years. And at the end of its life, it can be composted.
While not a roofing material per se, adding solar panels to your roof is a sustainable way to help offset your building’s energy use. The expansive, flat roofs of commercial buildings are ideal for installing solar panels.
Solar panels are not just energy efficient, they actually produceenergy for your building, giving you the potential to save significantly on your electricity costs. Solar panels are durable and long lasting, typically working at full strength for 25-30 years before energy production begins to decline. Even then, as long as they’re in good shape, they can continue to work for many more years. And when it’s time to retire them, solar panels can be recycled.
To install solar panels, your roof will need to be able to support their weight. New construction roofs can be specially outfitted for this purpose; most older roofs will need to be modified to safely house solar panels.
If you’re considering adding solar panels to your commercial building’s roof, always enlist a professional roofer to ensure your roof isn’t damaged during the installation process.
Need Help Choosing the Right Commercial Roof? The Team at RoofTech Can Help
If you are considering a sustainable roofing solution for your commercial building, RoofTech can help you determine which material is right for you. Whether you need roofing for a new construction project or are looking to re-roof an existing building, our team of professional roofers can help you choose a roof that will maximize your energy savings. Contact us today to discuss your next roofing project and get on our calendar.