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July 19, 2018

Cool and Green Roofs

If you are doing research on the most eco-friendly commercial roofing systems available for your project, you are likely to note that “cool roof” and “green roof” are widely mentioned.  It’s for good reason that these two roofing options are popular today, and many facility owners are utilizing them on their buildings. Both have many benefits that make them an excellent environmental choice to consider for your property.

What is the difference between a cool and green roof?

The terms “cool” and “green” roof are often used interchangeably. A white single-ply roof is “cool” because it reflects heat and is also “green” because it saves energy. A vegetative roof is “green” because it contains living plants and is also “cool” because it insulates the building from heat, plus helps mitigate water run-off.

veggie roof overlook
Both a reflective roof and a vegetative roof have been installed on this commercial facility.

Pros of cool and green roofs

Arguably the most significant advantage of cool or green roofs is their ability to lower energy bills by reducing the energy burden of commercial HVAC systems. The roofs can also improve indoor comfort for buildings that are not air conditioned, as well as reduce the roof surface temperature – which helps extend the lifespan of the roofing system.

Cool or green roofs also have a positive impact on the environment. Not only are they recognized for their aesthetic appeal, but they also help in reducing the urban heat island effect, lowering power consumption during times of peak energy demand, and reducing power plant emissions such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Vegetative roofs additionally help with noise infiltration and storm water control, offer hail protection, and boost a property’s market value.

Cool and green roof considerations

Reflective commercial roofing systems are very common these days, and billions of square feet of white, single-ply roofing material have been installed in all climates throughout North America.

Vegetative systems are much less common for several reasons. The first is cost, as veggie systems will be inherently more expensive to install and maintain. The underlying roofing membrane must be designed and installed to accommodate the vegetative “overburden.” Roof system manufacturers typically require a minimal membrane thickness to be used for these installations in order to issue a warranty. Also, the building structure must be robust enough to handle the weight, as veggie roof systems are heavy, and get heavier as they absorb rainwater.

Regardless of which type of environmentally friendly roofing system you are considering, make sure the commercial roofing contractor has the experience you need for your project.


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