Building with Vinyl to Conserve Energy
Light-colored roofs made of vinyl are an extremely popular, cost
effective, energy-saving alternative to traditional dark-colored roofs
on commercial buildings.
How it works:
On a 90° F day, the temperature on a black roof can be as high as
160° F, according to The Heat Island Group at the University of
California, Berkeley. Some of that heat is transferred inside to the
occupants of the building, resulting in higher utility costs for air
conditioning to keep the occupants comfortable.
Light-colored vinyl roofing membranes reduce this problem by reflecting
sunlight, bringing temperatures six to eight degrees lower.
According to the California Energy Commission (CEC), cooler roofs
reduce peak electricity demand for cooling, improve building comfort,
reduce the "heat island" effect and even reduce air pollution. Of
course these energy savings also result in cost savings for the
consumer or the taxpayer.
Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the
Florida Solar Energy Center further confirm that reflective roofs made
of vinyl membranes or other single-ply materials can reduce utility
costs of air-conditioning by as much as 50 percent.
With more than 30 years of documented performance, vinyl roofing
membranes have proven to be as structurally sound as other materials,
designed to resist wind uplift, structural movement and harsh outdoor
elements. An additional benefit: vinyl roofing membranes generally have
good fire performance because of the fire-retardant nature of pure
vinyl and the addition of flame retardants. Moreover, a draft report
from the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) PVC Task Group found
that the environmental and health impacts of vinyl building products
are comparable to, and could be lower than, those of products made of
Vinyl roofing membranes can also be found as a component in urban
"green roofs," which consist of a multi-layer soil and drainage system
upon which vegetation can grow. Green roofs, in turn, improve the
energy efficiency of buildings, enhance the look of urban rooftops and
promote healthier air in such areas.
"Available evidence shows that vinyl products can contribute to the
environmental performance of sustainable buildings," Vinyl Institute
President Tim Burns said. "Whether it is the energy savings provided by
vinyl windows or the resource conservation of durable products like
pipe, siding and flooring, vinyl has a place in 'green' buildings."
Case Study: San Marcos Unified School District, Calif.
Jim Poltl, director of maintenance and operations for the San Marcos
Unified School District in San Marcos, Calif., has installed reflective
vinyl roofs on several projects and is now covering 30,000 square feet
at three school sites with these roofs.
"This is an excellent design and a good system," he said. His district
of about 12,000 pupils started the retrofitting project because the old
roofs on single-story manufactured classrooms were leaking. However,
once the new system was installed -- complete with improved insulation
-- he started hearing comments from teachers who noticed how much
cooler and quieter their rooms were. "The money saved on energy costs
is really the icing on the cake," Poltl said.
Case Study: University of California, Los Angeles
Greg Zoll, senior superintendent at the University of California, Los
Angeles, has also employed several white vinyl membranes on campus
rooftops throughout the last five years. He noted that they typically
save 20-30 percent in energy costs, with building occupants reporting
cooler temperatures that allow them to reduce the energy and costs
spent on air conditioning.
"These roofing systems are designed to last 30 years, so multiply that
out over the roof's lifecycle for the true savings," Zoll said.
During peak air-conditioning season, he figures the University saves an
average of $800 a month on each of these buildings, or about $10,000 a
year in energy costs. "It's common sense to do this."
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