Do Cool Roofs work?

cool roofing system

Cool roofing for your commercial property

The summers aren’t that bad here in Ohio, but they do get warm, probably warmer than most people realize. Warm enough that a cool roof is of interest to many commercial building owners.  Commercial roofing contractors are getting more and more calls for cool roofing from commercial building owners because of the rise in utility costs and concerns for the environment.

A commercial building owner that isn’t familiar with the term ‘cool roof’ will call a roofing contractor and ask them, “How can I reduce my roof heat in summer?”, and that is the question that opens the conversation. Of course that conversation creates more questions, which is what we are going to answer here and provide information that can help you decide whether a cool roof is what your building needs.

So, to answer that question, “How can I reduce my roof heat in summer”, obviously, we’re going to tell you about a cool roof. A commercial building owner or occupant believe there isn’t anything that can be done about increasing temperatures affecting the inside of their building. They resort to turning the thermostat down, which works the HVAC system harder, which increases the utilities and wears the HVAC system down faster.

What they usually don’t realize is that the roof of the building has a large effect on the temperature inside the building because it is absorbing heat from the sun instead of reflecting. Here are some basic roofing factors that most building owners do not realize:

  • A roof’s color will either absorb heat or reflect heat.  Dark colors absorb and light colors reflect.
  • Insulation is another key factor of a roof’s temperature. Insulation is a barrier that keeps the cool in instead of it leaking out through the roof.
  • The pitch of a roof has an impact on how cool a building stays. A flat or low sloped roof absorbs heat because it is getting directly hit by the UV rays of the sun.

So, Is a dark or light roof better? 

It can depend on the climate where your commercial structure is located and roof line of the building.  When looking at the various options available for a commercial structure, think what the climate is like most of the year.  Here in Ohio, are winters are colder than our summers are hot, but that doesn’t mean our utility bills don’t increase during the summer. So, next you want to consider the surrounding area of your building. Are there a lot of trees or are you surrounded by other buildings? The sun’s UV rays heat generated by that will bounce from taller buildings around you and heat up your roof.  

The rule of thumb to remember is a dark colored roof will absorb heat and make the air conditioning work harder, which will increase your electric billing. A light colored roof is going to reflect the heat, something that commercial structures and residential properties in warmer climates choose, and where the cool roof option is gain popularity.

What is the coolest roofing material?

For a commercial structure needing a cool roof, there are a variety of cool roofing materials on the market. However, you can’t choose a cool roof material like you do the breakroom coffee machine.

This requires asking questions and doing ample research, then ask more questions as you become more informed on cool roof materials for your commercial building. Things you need to research:

  • Lifespan
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

For many commercial cool roof projects, PVC roofing material is a preferred choice for a flat roof. Although it cost more to have installed compared to other single-ply roofing materials, the benefits offered outweigh that expense overtime. Among those benefits are:

  • Crack resistant
  • Impact resistant
  • Low maintenance
  • Long lifespan (up to 20 years with proper maintenance)
  • Reflective

What color roof is most energy efficient?

When choosing a commercial roofing material, you want a cool roofing coating that offers the most energy efficiency. Just as we are advised to wear white when out in the heat, the same logic applies to the material you have your commercial structure’s roof. Cool roofing is more important in some areas than here in Ohio, but again, your building may be situated where cool roof is something you’re considering.

However, when it comes to creating a cool roof, color is secondary of what is important. Good insulation and adequate ventilation will make all the difference in the temperature inside your building and how much your energy bills are costing. That is fact all year long too, not just in the summer or winter.

flat roofing being installed

What roofing material lasts the longest?

There are new products coming out on the market every year for commercial structures and cool roof choices. From impact resistant roofing systems to coating and polymers that create that cool roof effect, they are more durable today with a longer lifespan. Which one has the longest life span for your commercial structure? Here is a breakdown of roofing materials and their expect life:

  • Metal or Steel: 50 years or longer
  • Foam: 25 years or longer
  • BUR: 30 years or longer

However, no matter which material you choose for your commercial building’s cool roof system, the key to a long life for any roof is proper maintenance. With a good maintenance program and regular inspections, the cost of replacing your roof can be avoided longer.

Are there any cool roofing issues to be aware of before making that investment? For northern states like Ohio, yes, there is cool roof issue to consider.  A cool roofs will contribute to your energy savings – if you’re in a southern warm climate. It will allow you to raise the thermostat and reduce your air-conditioning costs during the summer.

However, in states like Ohio, we spend more money trying to stay warm in the winter. So, a cool roof may not be the best answer for your building.  Visit with several reputable commercial roofing contractors about having a cool roof installed. Then do your research. Get started today by calling (740) 505-1467.