Are there ways to be environmentally responsible with my building’s roof and still stay cost-effective?
Absolutely. While some strategies for “going green” can involve complicated or costly technologies, sometimes the responsible route to go with a commercial building’s roof is as simple as selecting the right color.
Switching from a dark asphalt or rubber roof to a white roof is the simplest way to increase energy efficiency. A “cool” heat-reflective white membrane can save substantially in air-conditioning costs, and the best news is that white roofs usually cost no more than black roofs.
Besides saving direct cooling costs, there are other environmental benefits to selecting heat-reflective roofs. According to recent Department of Energy studies, if all black roofs in the U. S. were replaced with heat-reflective white roofs, “it would achieve a one-time offset of 3.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide, or about half of total U.S. emissions in 2009.” Pretty substantial results from a simple adjustment that costs no more than the old technology.
While you could get more aggressive by looking at more costly and sophisticated energy-savers like photo-voltaic arrays or vegetative roofs, sometimes the best thing to do first is the simplest. In roofing, the easiest and most cost-effective way to “go green” is to remember: Green = White.