The Energy Efficiency of Cool Roofing and Metal Roofs

Everywhere you look, concern for the environment is changing how we live, how we shop and, for home builders and roofers, how we build. Consumers today are increasingly aware of the effects of carbon emissions on the environment and the need to use less energy and resources to save money, and to save the planet.  Roofing is a key building component where a lot of energy can be saved, and both cool roofing and metal roofing are great ways to improve the energy efficiency of any building.

Solar panel technician on roof with solar panels

Benefits of Cool Roofing

The future of roofing lies in reducing the heat absorbed by roofs of buildings and homes, and turning roofs into places of energy conservation, even clean energy generation. New roofing materials and types of roofing on the market are aimed to do the following:

  • Reflect sunlight to reduce local air temperatures
  • Reduce electricity use needed for air conditioning when buildings heat up
  • Reduce power emissions due to less electricity use
  • Make better use of roof space with innovative ideas
  • Decrease landfill waste using recycled materials
  • Increase property value by protective the building/residence

Types of Cool Roofing

A Word on Solar Roofing

Solar roofing, sold today mostly in the form of solar panels attached to the roof, allows homeowners and businesses to capture the rays of the sun and convert them to energy. This helps reduce fossil fuel energy use, but also help to cool the roof, lowering overall cooling costs on hot days and locking in warmth on cold days.  Now solar roofing is being developed that will incorporate solar panels designed right into the roofing. Solar shingles are already available that incorporate a semiconductor layer that generates energy, much like solar panels do. Recently, Elon Musk of Tesla, along with SolarCity, has recently announced he plans to develop an integrated “beautiful roof that is a solar roof” that will be attractive as well as generate power for use in the home or to send back to the energy grid. It will be an attractive alternative to today’s solar panels.

Of course, there are other ways to create a cool roof beyond a solar roof. Here are a few trends in roofing that we will see more of in the future.

White Roofs

man saving energy by painting a whitewashed roof overlooking the sea in sunny GreeceOne trend is growing in cities and towns everywhere:  painting roofs with reflective materials can drastically conserve energy.  A “global whitewashing”, as Energy Secretary Steven Chu called it, would reduce carbon emissions by 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide if roofs and pavement were made to be more energy efficient.

In creating a “white roof”, a special white paint is used on roof surfaces to protect it from UV light. Similar to how you might wear light-colored clothing, or purchase a car with beige seats rather than black seats, white roofs absorb less sunlight, thereby reducing the “urban heat island effect”, which causes cities to have hotter temperatures than their suburb counterparts. These coatings are thick and reflective, and a variety of products are available for different roof types.  The concept of “white roofing” has been practiced for years in places like sunny Greece where buildings and roofs are routinely painted white to reflect the sunlight and keep the building’s interior cooler.

Green Roofs

In the future, you will likely see more and more green roofs, or roofs with gardens and yards. These roofs include grass, shrubs, and plants, and thrive on rooftops because of the sunlight they absorb. Monaco building examples of energy efficient green roofing with green gardens on the roofAdditionally, it offers a place for insects and wildlife to thrive in the otherwise barren city landscape. If more and more rooftops go green, you could even start seeing small animals like birds, snakes, and squirrels living comfortably on top of buildings. Not only does this “green roof” help cool buildings, but the plants can produce oxygen and also absorb noise, which is incredibly important in an urban landscape.

Protected Membrane Roofs

Protected Membrane Roofs (PMRs) last longer than normal roofs and protect your home or building from extreme climate change. With PMRs, the insulation is on top of the membrane instead of underneath, which helps it maintain temperatures inside whatever it is covering. There are various kinds of membranes, some with more layers than others.

Metal Roofing Can Reduce Energy Usage and Save You Money

Among the best energy saving roofing solutions is metal roofing. Metal roofing is an increasingly popular type of roof that conserves energy, is highly durable and adds beauty to your home. While most people energy efficient copper roofing in a McDonald Highlands home in Las Vegas, NVassume metal roofing might make your home hotter, metals such as zinc, copper, steel, and aluminum naturally absorb heat, but then more quickly release it back into the air. These metals can be molded into beautiful designs and coated with different colors into attractive looking sheets, panels, and shingles. Special paints and coatings can increase the reflectivity of the metal. According to the Cool Metal Roofing Coalition and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, while normal asphalt roofing traps heat, metal roofing reflects up to 90% of solar radiation back into the atmosphere, with the potential to reduce energy usage by up to 40%.

In addition to energy savings, metal roofing can be an environmentally friendly choice. Metal roofing may be made from recycled material. It can even be installed directly over your existing roof, reducing the time and cost of roof replacement.  And, of course, at its end of life, metal roofing can be recycled to be used again, reducing the impact on landfills.

Additional Benefits of Metal Roofing

  • Custom copper roofing on a suburban Las Vegas homeMetal roofing is one of the most durable materials, both fire resistant and waterproof
  • Metal rooftops typically have the longest lifespan, lasting up to 70 years or more
  • Over time, it can improve the value of your home thanks to its protective properties

As consumer trends point towards more energy-efficient buying habits, the future of roofing looks promising. Rooftops can be otherwise wasted space, but instead, today, manufacturers are more and more seeing roofing as an opportunity to not only beautify a home, but also make the most of the roof area to reduce the building’s energy usage and cost, and help the environment.

Prestige Roofing specializes in the fabrication and installation of top quality custom metal roofing. We have completed dozens of projects in Las Vegas and Henderson, helping homeowners, civic institutions and businesses beautify their homes and buildings, adding value and increasing their energy savings with custom copper, zinc and other metal roofing. See our gallery for more examples like these photos, or get a free estimate on an environmentally-friendly, beautiful metal roof for your new or remodeled home.

 

copper roof on upscale las vegas suburban homeWhile roofs are designed to last for a long time, they don’t last forever. Damaging rains, harsh winds and other extreme weather can put a strain on that sturdy, protective covering on top of your home, your roof.

But, how well-built is your roof?  What makes up quality roof construction for a roof that will last and be able to handle all but the most extreme weather events? And when is it time to contact a Las Vegas roofing company for an inspection, repair or even a re-roofing of your home? It helps to understand a little bit about how your roof works so you can be more prepared to watch out for problems.

Characteristics of Quality Roof Construction in Las Vegas

What makes a quality roof? Are the tiles or shingles what protect you?  What about the basic roof structure, or the sheathing underneath the tiles  – what role do they play? Ask any professional Las Vegas roofer and they will tell you that each component of the roofing system has a part in keeping the inside of your home safe and dry.

There are several components involved with your roofing system besides the top roof covering. If any part of the system fails, it can lead to damage of the other components and may compromise the house’s Layout and installation of roof rafters on a new commercial residential construciton project by framing contactorsbuilding envelope, which is the part of the house that prevents the outdoor weather from entering and the conditioned air inside your home from escaping outside.

Roof Structure

The roof structure is the part of the home that actually supports the layers of the roof. It consists of the trusses and rafters that span the home and provide support where it is needed to evenly support the weight of your roof. Because it is foundational to the roof, your roofer will pay close attention to the construction of the roof structure.

The Importance of Roof Pitch

The roof structure also has to have an adequate pitch (angle) so that the roof can shed off water, ice and snow. If the pitch is incorrect, the roof could send water in the wrong direction. The water can collect in valleys and roof joints, or collect in small standing pools along the roof. In time, the water will begin to rot the wood away and can cause the roof to collapse. Depending on the material used, different minimum roof pitches may apply. For example, minimum roof pitch for a shingle roof is 2/12, or 2 units of vertical rise for every 12 units horizontal (rise/run). In some regions, due to heavy snow, higher roof pitch is preferred. Minimum roof pitch for tile is a bit higher, at 3/12. One way to tell a quality roof installation from a poor one is how appropriate the roof pitch is for the home, type of roof covering and the local climate.

Sheathing

Also referred to as a roof deck, the sheathing is the material that is attached to the roof structure. It can Framing contractor installing roof sheeting over rafters on a new commercial residential construction projectconsist of plywood, metal sheeting, concrete, gypsum or composite materials based on the shingle materials that will be placed on top.

Basically, sheathing is the surface that will allow the other layers to be attached to your roof. It also keeps the rafters and trusses spaced out evenly across the house.

You will recognize quality roof construction and repair when the roofer takes the time to replace rotted sheathing and ensure all fasteners are in place.

Underlayment

Underlayment is the next layer that is applied to the roof. This lightweight layer provides extra protection to the sheathing and roof structure as it is designed to offer water-resistance and ultraviolet light resistance. The main purpose of the underlayment is to keep your roof safe if the top roof covering system fails. It gives you enough time to contact your Las Vegas roof contractor to fix the roof covering when you notice damaged or missing shingles or tiles.

Roof Covering

When it comes to Las Vegas homes, there are as many different roof coverings as there are lifestyles here. Along with some traditional asphalt and wood shingles, you will see many house styles that use Spanish tiles and even a few that use slate. Tile and slate are very durable materials, providing service for 50 or more  years, while shingles have to be replaced every 20-30 years. Metal roofing, such as zinc and copper, is a great, quality alternative roofing material due to its incredible beauty and versatility, as well as longevity of 50-100 years and highly weather resistant properties.

A quality roofer will explain the characteristics and pros and cons of roof materials to you. He will examine your home closely to make sure that it is appropriate for the roof covering you choose, including measuring the pitch of your roof. For example, tiles are very heavy and require a structure that can bear a heavy load.

Flashing

While many homeowners believe it is the roof covering that is the final element in creating a quality roof, there is one more important component that should not be overlooked. Roof flashing can be considered

Roofer working on house roof installing metal roof flashingas vital as all the other components of the roof system. Flashing are strips of sheet metal that are placed along the roof where there are joints and valleys. It is used to redirect water back onto the shingles if it gets behind the roof covering materials. It is a key component in the weatherproofing of your roof so that water does not get inside the envelope that keeps the interior of your home dry and free of water damage.

While installing roof flashing is considered one of the most tedious tasks in roofing, it can be a great indication for the quality of the roof installation. If the roofer skips this important step, doesn’t properly install step flashing, or uses roof flashing materials that aren’t appropriate, then you can have a roof that will begin to leak and decay. A roof inspector will recognize missing, loose or poorly installed flashing and can correct that for you to prevent against further damage.

All of These Components Are Vital for a Great Roof

If there is even one step overlooked or any improperly installation, your roof components can become exposed to the Las Vegas weather. Your roof may deteriorate faster than normal, and expose your home to the elements. Talk to your roofing contractor or inspector, and learn more about how your own roof works.  You will know how to keep it in good condition and how to spot problems, and your well-cared for roof will last many years into the future.