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The benefits of eco-friendly roofing systems

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Building owners, property managers and homeowners all have one thing in common: a roof over their structure that is either energy efficient or not.

Merely using energy was the "norm" -- now reducing energy use is the new standard. Last year building owners paid at least 11 percent more for natural gas and 29 percent more for heating oil than in 2005. Energy costs more money. When you improve a building's efficiency, everyone wins: the building's owner, its occupants, the economy and our environment. Our goal is to improve the quality and efficiency of tomorrow's structures through the use of alternative building materials. Getting there will not be easy, but one way is to start at the top -- from the roof.

Why eco-friendly roofing?

First, it's the right thing to do. Roofing, just like a hat, determines if heat and energy are contained or escape through a primary surface. The opportunity to provide environmental solutions is one of the big themes of business leadership in our generation. The energy industry is on the brink of a revolution. Saving the environment resonates with people. Your decision to go "green" creates a sense among the public that preservation of the local environment is the most important thing for the community's long-term prosperity. More property owners are making their facilities eco-friendly to reduce operating expenses, and finding doors open for them with a high-performance building that attracts investors and tenants.

Owners have a more personal and business stake in green buildings than they realize. Currently they are paying for this trend through tax dollars and not taking advantage of the benefits. Government is guiding us in this direction. California now requires all commercial new roofs and re-roofs to meet Title-24 energy guidelines. In 2008, this initiative will include condos and apartments.

Your awareness of changes creates new opportunities in the form of new energy efficient roofing systems.

Two systems that meet California's tough Title-24 requirements are an adhered Single-Ply (TPO) Membrane and the Cool-Roof spray-on coating system. The white solar reflective coating is required for new and replacement low-sloped commercial roofs, minimizing the effects of ultraviolet rays by providing energy savings and sustainable monolithic performance.

Metal roofs are the new "sexy" roof and gaining popularity in all building applications. Fire-resistant and available with a cool-roof finish, metal reduces cooling costs by 20 percent.

Simply adding roof insulation reduces CO2 emissions and its energy saving provides a significant rate of return.

Both functional and integrated, photovoltaic roofing systems provide clean renewable energy by tapping solar resources and utilize a range of membranes of flexible photovoltaic single-ply products.

Utilizing green organic garden roofs that keep rooftops cool with living plants and retain water runoff, are now being dictated by site development requirements. Typically, an architect can get a building owner an additional 20,000 square feet of building space by specifying a green roof. Considering the price of real estate in dense urban areas, massive costs of civil engineering and site development, green roofing offers big advantages.

Owners are discovering that they can convert measures that protect our environment into winning and profitable business strategies. We are entering a new era where consumers expect corporations to become more environmentally responsible -- and are rewarding them for doing so. Those taking steps today will be the leaders in their respective industries and create long-term benefits for our society as a whole, just by going green.

Submitted by Helen McBrady of RSI Roofing

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