REFLECTIVE ROOF SYSTEMS OFFER OBVIOUS ENERGY SAVINGS?

We have done some articles in the previous editions regarding white roofs vs. black roofs and the debate that continues based on who you ask. It is assumed the debate will continue for years to come and codes will change and technology will “dramatically” improve the quality of the products the manufactures produce. With all that in the mix, we just look to continue to educate the consumer on what the debates are so they might make an educated decision once they reach that point with their roof.

One thing almost everyone in the roofing industry can agree on is the cool roof calculators now in use are in need of reprogramming. The models generated by these calculators are limited; the results of their calculations can change significantly by forcing the user to apply certain inputs and exclude others. The calculators often are difficult to use and completely ignore the emergent issue of electricity demand charges. In fact, the latest iteration of the Roof Savings Calculator is “currently undergoing revision and should not be used,” according to Ronned Levinson, Ph. D., staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

roof coating reflection

As a result, there currently is no proven way to accurately calculate a comparison between the varying systems. Obviously increasing R-value, as current codes now require(R-25 or R-30 from the previous R-10 standard), will improve energy savings, but increases overall cost of the roof that takes too many years to realize these savings. However, this will perpetuate the debate between the black and white membranes, especially in the Chicago marketplace, as the white membrane provides the best savings in the warmest temperatures, but reverts to the opposite effect in the colder ones.

So, while state and local codes will be the driver as to what the building owner/manager has as roof options, there will continue not to be a “black and white” answer as to what the best roof is when it comes to maximum energy savings. My advice, take care of whatever it is you have for as long as you can as to avoid having to go through the process.

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