A tropical island is often thought of as a desirable place. We’ve all probably had the wish to sit on a spot of sugar white sand next to a sparkling blue ocean with a cool drink in hand.
The urban heat island isn’t one of those places, and isn’t a good thing for your roof or the environment. The urban heat island effect, or UHI, occurs when an urban area becomes warmer than the surrounding rural areas. It is caused by dark roofing, pavement, lack of vegetation and tall buildings that restrict air circulation and heat dissipation. Dark roofing and pavement absorb heat from sunlight on hot sunny days, which causes the urban area to heat up. Without plants, trees, and/or less absorbent construction materials, more heat is soaked up and causes the urban area to become hotter.
The downtown area in this example has a temperature that's significantly higher than the surrounding suburban and rural areas.
Heat islands have negative impacts on the environment. They alter wind patterns, clouds, humidity, and precipitation. They also affect the health of the citizens, because UHIs promote the generation of air pollution. Plus, when temperatures get really high, there's an added risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion or death, especially in northern cities where people are not as equipped for extremely warm weather.
Planting more vegetation and using lighter colored paving material can help reduce the urban heat island effect. Cool roofing is another way. A cool roof has a light-colored surface that reflects solar heat rather than absorbing and transferring it to buildings. Obviously, there are a lot of commercial buildings with flat roofs in urban areas, and cool roofing has great potential to reduce UHIs – more so than pavement upgrades, which also have extremely high capital costs.
The primary function of a commercial roof is to keep building occupants and contents safe from the elements. Once those conditions are met, building owners should consider other benefits of a new roof, and one of those can be reflectivity. A cool roof saves money and energy by lessening the amount of solar heat that is transferred to the building, reducing HVAC costs. In addition, a reflective roof has greater environmental benefits, by reducing the impact of urban heat islands. At Royalty Roofing, we’re pleased to deliver all the benefits that cool roofing has to offer.