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Alternatives to rooftop solar electric panels

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With the "green movement" continuing to sweep San Diego by storm, many businesses have started to look at how they can cut costs and help contribute a green building to San Diego. For a lot of companies, rooftop solar electric panels have been the easy choice.

Eliminate or cut your electric bill, provide clean quiet energy and use your building as a testament to a community that so desperately wants to be green. There is no question that solar sparks a whole lot of interest.

"Every trade show we attend, people want to know more about solar, even if they have no intention in buying," says David Susi, president of RSI Roofing.

Price of solar not in your budget?

There are many other alternatives to convert your building into a green building. Single-ply roofing membranes have been around since the 1960s, and during the last two years single-ply roofing has grown tremendously because of the 2005 passage of Title 24 cool-roof legislation.

A garden roof retains storm water, limits the heat island effect and saves energy.

One of the more popular types of single-ply is Thermoply Olefin (TPO) membranes, which are single-ply roof membranes constructed with a highly reflective white surface. Designed to combine the durability with the proven performance of hot-air weldable seams, they have been tested as having excellent resistance to ozone, are algae-resistant, environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing and safe to install.

On a summer day, a black roof can reach temperatures in excess of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. On the same day, a highly reflective single-ply TPO roof can be as low as 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the buildings location, a single-ply TPO roof could offset 50 percent or more of the original cost to install the white roof. It is also in accordance with a California mandated Title-24 cool roof energy requirement passed in October 2005. This makes for a great, less expensive alternative to solar.

Another option?

Garden roofing. You hear and see them mostly in the rainy cities such as Chicago or Portland, but why not San Diego? Space.

With the lack of office and tenant space in San Diego, building owners are looking to garden roofing to provide their employees or tenants a roof-top park or recreation area that is covered with a green roof. The garden roof also creates storm water retention, limits the heat island effect, saves energy, lowers your utility bill, and is also aesthetically pleasing and cleans the air, providing a wonderful atmosphere for your employee or tenant.

National Research Council Canada found that in buildings less than three stories in height, a garden roof can reduce average daily energy demands for cooling by 50 percent or more compared to a typical flat roof. Additionally, storm water runoff can be reduced by up to 95 percent following a one-inch rain event, lowering a building's impact on the municipal storm drainage system and the surrounding watershed.

If the price of solar on your roof is not in your budget, single-ply and garden roofing are great alternatives. And just like solar, they offer points toward a U.S. Green Building Council LEED building certification. If you need a re-roof done anyway, make sure you make it a green roof.

For more information on LEED building Certification and California's Title 24 Requirements, visit www.usgbc.org/LEED or www.energy.ca.gov/title24.

To request more information about green roofing, contact the writer, James Adams, of RSI Roofing at jadams@thinkrsi.com or visit the Web site at www.ThinkRSI.com.

Submitted by James Adams of RSI Roofing.

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