If you’re looking to install a new roof on your house, consider the benefits of a cool roof. In recent years, several Green building practices have evolved from attractive options to legal requirements, and roofing is no exception: As of 2010, new and replacement roofs are required to comply with updated environmentally-friendly standards (per Title 24 legislation). Fortunately, the roofing industry has kept in step with these changes and developed roofing materials that both comply with the law and surpass their predecessors in terms of aesthetics and functionality. A roof that’s constructed with these types of materials is called a “cool roof.”
Cool roofs are characterized by a high level of performance in two aspects: solar reflectance and thermal emittance. Both the lightness of color and specific composition of the roofing materials account for their ability to simultaneously reflect light and deflect heat. In comparison with a traditional roof, which features dark shingles that absorb and retain heat rather than reflect and release it, a cool roof will typically remain 50 to 60 degrees cooler during hot weather.
This reduction of roof temperatures presents numerous benefits for both homeowners and the environment. For homeowners, it means a significant decrease in energy costs (due to less air conditioning usage) and maintenance costs, as cool roofing practices both increase a roof’s life expectancy and make for easier replacement. For the environment, it means less energy usage and a relief of the “urban heat island effect,” which is an incremental increase in air temperature caused by the collective heat retention of a community’s roofs.
Even though Title 24 requires all new and replacement roofs to comply with updated standards, some homeowners still don’t want to use these newer roofing materials because of aesthetic preferences. Fortunately, the legislation allows for alternative ways of meeting the regulation. In essence, the goal of Title 24 is to ensure homes achieve a Solar Reflective Index (SRI) rating of less than 16. Since the law is primarily looking for a number, as long as your home achieves the desired SRI, it doesn’t matter how you do it. To achieve a compliant SRI rating as economically as possible without converting to a cool roof, try improving your attic ventilation or installing a radiant barrier.
Ninety percent of all attics have inadequate ventilation, which contributes to amplified summer temperatures that can increase the heat inside your home and make your attic a haven for mold and mildew. While attic fans are frequently ineffective in combating the summer heat, installing an advanced ventilation system in your attic is a good way to reduce temperatures and achieve a compliant SRI rating. Talk to your roofing contractor or a local home improvement specialist to find out more about the different systems that are available.
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