Designing sustainable commercial roofs is a mindset. It starts with the concept of not using more limited resources than you need, whether those resources are building materials, energy to heat or cool your building, or the money you use to pay for those things. When you design your commercial roof using materials and techniques that reduce the need for energy and last a long time, you are conserving — not wasting — resources.
Not wasting resources is good business! (Your CFO will agree.)
Sustainable design also includes the idea that there are creative ways to get more use out of the materials you already own. When it’s time for a new roof, for example, choosing to reuse, repurpose or recycle materials from your old roof can save you money. Sometimes a lot of money — especially if you have a big roof.
By reusing your metal roofing components or your existing insulation whenever possible (or repurposing materials from someone else’s property, which is cheaper than buying new materials), the cost of re-roofing will shrink.
Conserving materials also reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfills and, logically, the energy and resources needed to produce and distribute new materials. This also, in turn, reduces emissions that impact air quality and other public health concerns.
Heat islands, cool roofs, and water management
While the term “carbon footprint” has been known to generate eye rolls from some people, reducing the carbon footprint of your property by reducing the energy it takes to cool it benefits both you and others. A cool (reflective) roof saves you money every year, both directly and indirectly, because it lowers your monthly energy bills and also reduces the atmospheric temperature right around your property. Higher temperatures generated by buildings clustered in urban areas create an urban heat island effect that generates greater demand for power, which makes power more expensive. Urban heat islands also negatively impact weather patterns, creating stronger thunderstorms and increased flooding.
Five fundamental principles to remember
This infographic summarizes the fundamental principles of sustainable roof design. Managing rainwater is different from the other fundamentals because you can apply it at any stage of your roof’s life cycle — you don’t have to wait until it’s time to re-roof or make major repairs. When you harvest rainfall from your roof for use in other areas of your property, you’ll lower your monthly water bills. It’s like getting pennies from heaven while conserving city water, too.
Sentry Roof designs sustainably
We’ve been committed to doing what’s best for our clients and the environment since we opened our doors 35 years ago. Sustainable roof design adds value and reduces cost, and as materials and techniques have improved, we have evolved right along with them. Today, we are able to reuse at least some material in about 75% of our low-slope re-roofing projects. Other times, if we can’t reuse materials on the same re-roofing projects we’ll repurpose it for other projects.
When we re-roofed Concourse E at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, we repurposed more than a million square feet of insulation that the airport was unable to reuse. We used some of this insulation in our projects for other clients, including 1230 Bald Ridge Marina Rd, which reduced their total insulation costs significantly. The rest of the insulation was distributed for repurposing in projects nationwide.
Sentry has also worked on many new-construction LEED projects for which the roofing systems have earned credits (including The Suites Green Dorm at Spelman College and residence halls at Oxford College of Emory University), and we were one of the first roofing contractors in Atlanta to install vegetative roofs. Vegetative roofs are as sustainable as you get.
It’s easy to see how on the one hand, sustainable roof design is a smart, forward-thinking 21st-century business practice. And on the other hand, it’s based on the same common sense your grandparents and great-grandparents applied — they used what they already owned, bought fewer things, and made the things they did buy last longer.
If you’re interested in implementing sustainable design principles into your roofing system and getting more value from your roof asset, please contact us at Sentry Roof.