Playing It Cool Reflective roofing captures the attention of pros looking to reduce home energy use.

Playing It Cool Reflective roofing captures the attention of pros looking to reduce home energy use.
  • By Victoria Markovitz Source: BUILDING PRODUCTS Magazine Publication date: 2010-03-01

Lower budgets have helped asphalt shingles continue their market dominance for new construction, while a growing focus on remodeling is boosting the material’s use for both patch jobs and re-roofing. Yet, at the same time that the housing market has plummeted, green pros report increasing success for eco-friendly homes and remodeling projects that save homeowners money, driving a growing trend toward higher-cost roofing products of all types that are certified to reflect heat.

Energy Savers

Reflective or “cool” roofing materials, available in a variety of types including asphalt, metal, and composite, are capturing the attention of pros and consumers looking to earn points toward green certification, or who just want to reduce a home’s overall energy costs. Instead of absorbing the heat that hits the roof, these materials-whether through a light color or through a reflective coating-reflect heat. This results, on average, in a 7 percent to 15 percent energy savings in total cooling costs, according to the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC). In addition, some studies claim that cool roofs last longer than traditional products, because they do not absorb heat, says Sherry Hao, the council’s administrative manager.

The council rates roofing performance two ways: Solar reflectance refers to how much of the sun’s energy is reflected by the roof; thermal emittance measures how well the product releases the heat that it does absorb, Hao explains. Both utilize a scale from 0 to 1, with measurements closest to 1 performing best.

The rating group measures performance but does not impose minimum levels. Cool roofing products that indicate they are “rated by the CRRC” have been verified by the council to perform at the levels stated by the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, Energy Star recognizes cool roofs that reduce peak cooling demand by 10 percent to 15 percent. To obtain the Energy Star label, steep-slope products must have an initial solar reflectance better than or equal to 0.25. Three years after installation, under normal conditions, the roofing product must achieve a solar reflectance of 0.15. Products that meet these requirements are eligible for the federal tax credits. The organization does not require third-party certification of performance.

Growing Options

In California, cool roofing is a popular option for pros trying to meet Title 24 stipulations, says Randy Brown, co-owner of Los Gatos Roofing in San Jose, Calif. While there are a variety of methods to increase the roof’s efficiency, including upgrading roofing insulation, most of Brown’s clients opt to install a cool roof product, he says.

In the past, cool-roofing options were confined to light-colored materials, which many homeowners do not want; however, in recent years, manufacturers developed coatings that allow darker colors to reflect heat. The colors look dark in the visible spectrum, but reflect light in the near infrared spectrum, Hao explains.

Still, due to their higher price tag, some pros find cool roofing products garner more interest than sales. For example, Tim Lutrell, Northeast district sales manager for Tamko, says that in his region, Lamarite slate composite cool roof shingles cost $80 more per 100 square feet installed than the non-reflective Lamarite products.

“A lot of folks ask about this stuff, but as you go to higher prices, some folks get scared off,” says Scott Heitmeier, business manager of roofing products for the Southwest region of ABC Supply. “That’s something that has to be dealt with if these products are truly going to gain their share in the market.” BP

Custom-Bilt Metals. The company has added 7/8-inch corrugated metal roofing to its cool roofing lineup. It reflects up to 60 percent of solar heat and saves up to 20 percent on the home’s total energy costs, the maker says. Coated options have a solar reflectance of at least 25 percent, and lighter colors have a solar reflectance of 60 percent or more. 800-826-7813. www.custombiltmetals.com .

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