With growing awareness about recycling, energy efficiency and other methods of going “green,” the construction industry has begun to embrace these ideas as well. Roofing contractors are changing methods to both please customers and make a positive impact on the environment. There are newer techniques in energy reduction, both in the building process itself and in insulation and thermal-tightness, which extend to the roof. So it is a good idea to find a contractor who knows about green building methods.
So what constitutes a green roof? There are actually two distinct definitions for this term, each one differing from the other.
- Energy Efficiency – “Green” in terms of roofing refers to the building method, insulation, thermo-efficiency and other means of keeping heat in or out, thereby keeping utility demands down. Lowering energy needs trickles down to lessening the carbon footprint on this which is the main goal of energy efficiency and going green.
- Environment – There is also the more literal definition of a “green” building top which is environmentally friendly in its own way. There is an increasing trend to utilize otherwise wasted space on flat-topped buildings to grow things such as flowers, vegetables, plants, which creates many benefits. Plant life increases the quality of the air through the release of oxygen; by using such a space to grow food reduces food expenses and provides a method of growing clean, healthier produce with decreased water use that would otherwise run off and into sewers. Vegetation also acts as natural insulation.
In terms of green construction, there are various techniques. Some are new and some are simply improvements on ideas that have been in use by builders for decades.
- Sun Angle – Some concepts include building new construction either facing toward or away from the direct rays of the sun depending on the geographic location as well as by utilizing better heat-reflective surfaces.
- Solar Collectors – Solar collectors have been around for years but are becoming more visible as more are installed to save on utility bills. Some new developments to capture solar energy that used to require big, expensive panels on a roof can now be achieved with photovoltaic shingles, solar films for lining metal roofs and cylindrical solar tubes Solar tubes collect energy from all directions including reflective energy that bounces back from the roof when a reflective insulation has been installed under the top surface.
- Insulation – The other main area where technique affects efficiency is in insulation. The days of rolling out layers of pink fiberglass in attics to provide insulation are dwindling. Builders now know that this does practically nothing in comparison to using thermo-reflective barrier insulation, ISO (Polyisocyanurate) foam panel insulation and other newer, more technologically-advanced products. Additionally, more work is being done to be sure that seams and gaps are adequately insulated since this is where a lot of air escapes. Staggered layering of insulating panels, sealing off cracks and gaps and other methods of covering seams and filling in otherwise empty spaces between the inner and outer roof surfaces is a great help and definitely worth the effort involved.
While these are just the main ideas in going green with home roofing, it is definitely worth looking into for the various benefits offered. While making such modifications may be initially expensive, the savings will continue for years to come. There are also government programs and tax-reducing benefits for making such improvements to a home. Most contractors know about these programs and can suggest how to take advantage of them. All in all though, a green effort is a “win-win” situation and a decision that anyone can feel good about making!