Sustainable, Energy Efficient Roofing Options
Roofs are a vital part of any building project, protecting the inside of your building from snow, rain and exposure to the elements. However, your roof also helps control internal temperatures and can help save on energy costs. When it comes to creating a sustainable roof, there are many green options. You can utilize sustainable materials, add solar panels or add systems that help the environment while saving on energy usage.
Green roofs may cost a bit more to install upfront but result in energy savings over time. Experts predict over the 40-year span of a green roof's existence, the average homeowner saves about $200,000 in reduced energy bills, although the actual amount varies based on roof design and location of the home. There are many ways of creating a sustainable roofing system. Here are the most popular:
1. Solar Panels
Probably the most common sustainable roofing option involves installing solar panels to generate energy for your building. The cost to install roof tiles is about $1 to $2 per square foot, but Tesla solar panels run around $21.95 per square foot or about $54,000 for a 2,500 square foot home. That cost is prohibitive to most households. Homeowners can receive a tax credit in some states for transitioning to sustainable energy. You may be able to price out solar energy at a lower cost, depending upon which type of solar panels you choose and who does the installation. One big advantage is being completely energy independent.
2. Vegetative Root Systems
A green roof system is a ballasted roof with a waterproof membrane, soil and plants on top of a regular roofing system (in place of tiles). The roof may contain other barriers for better insulation and drainage and irrigation elements. There are many advantages to a vegetative roof system, such the ability to grow food as part of the plants, which benefits those in urban areas when combined with a walkway so residents can access the crops. Green roofs last two or three times longer as conventional roofs because they protect your home from mechanical damages, shielding the roof from UV rays and minimizing expansion and contractions of the roof membrane by buffering seasonal temperature variations.
3. Recycled Materials
If you're on a budget and can't afford the upfront cost of solar, you can still create a more sustainable roof by using recycled materials, whether you go with a metal roof, asphalt shingles or ceramic tiles. Also, send the old material you remove out for recycling to reduce the usage of materials. Talk to your roofing contractor or builder about your desire to protect the environment and find out what options work with your personal budget.
4. Spray Foam Roofing
Closed-cell sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) gets sprayed onto the roof and then sealed with an elastomeric coating to protect the roof from the sun. The result is a highlight energy efficient and lasting roofing material. However, you are using foam, so some would argue this isn't the most sustainable option available. Still, if your goal is reducing your overall energy usage in your home or office building, this is an attractive option that fits into most budgets.
5. Cool Roof
A light colored roof helps reflect the heat and reduce the amount of energy to keep the interior cool. It can also reflect back heat in the summer in urban areas, reducing the overall heat index in crowded locations. To boost the effectiveness of your light roof, use sustainable material such as metal or add a green area to a flat rooftop to provide shade and increase the oxygen in the air. A hybrid system may be just what you need to meet your eco-friendly goals while keeping your project affordable.
Sustainable Roofing Systems Save Money
Adding a sustainable roof to any building saves money in energy costs. There are different definitions of what's sustainable, so finding the right fit for each client is a vital part of constructing green buildings. Be open to new changes in the industry as technology advances and look at options that fit both the overall look of the structure as well as the price points the owner wants.
Bio: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.
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