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The architect or builder who presents to his client a product that fits the qualifications of "green building" practices in this age of environmental awareness, is a step ahead of his competition. Metal roofing has the advantage of being one of these products. The motivation for the selection of a "green building" material may be either to conserve natural resources, to comply with the latest codes and regulations, or to save energy.
New technology in manufacturing techniques allows metal to take on the appearance of more traditional roofing products, while offering the consumer a far greater value as a long-term investment. Cedar shake, slate, tile and even asphalt shingle can be replicated in metal. Homeowners are beginning to appreciate the attractiveness of the new products, and no longer think of metal roofing as the standing seam style on a factory or warehouse. Consider the following environmentally sound advantages of metal roofing:
Metal is a minimum of 25 percent recycled material, and can be recycled after its life span. It would be highly unlikely for the need to replace a metal roof, whose longevity can be documented on buildings that are centuries old. Because of its light weight, it can often be installed directly over the existing roof, without the need to tear off and dispose of the old material. This reduces the amount of waste that would add to already overburdened landfills.
Energy studies in Florida by the Florida Power & Light Company show that the solar reflectance on a light colored roof strongly affects cooling costs. Dark gray roofs reflect only 8 percent of heat associated with sunlight, shingle and clay tile reflect 25 and 34 percent respectively, and white metal, 66 to 77 percent. The ability of metal to cool down quickly at night, also adds to energy savings. When simulated metal tile panels are applied over a solid deck, the air space between the panel and the underlayment reduces heat transfer into the building. This air layer also acts as insulation and is equally important in cold climates where it is believed to lower heating costs. The savings from using less insulation is also an economical factor. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately $40 billion is spent each year to air condition buildings in the United States. By reflecting the sun's heat, the amount of energy required for cooling purposes can be reduced 10-15% during peak
cooling periods. This, in turn, benefits the environment by reducing the burning of fossil fuels used to create the needed power. The burning of these fossil fuels often creates air pollution associated with smog, acid rain and global climate changes. Every link in the environmental chain is affected by the improvement of the ecology.
Concerns about ground water contamination by runoff from the roof affecting a well or cistern is also eliminated. Metal roofing is not produced with petroleum byproducts and does not support mildew or algae, which contribute to the pollution of water runoff.
Since a variety of metal roofing panels are structural in them selves, they can be installed over open framing, without the need for a plywood decking. This is an environmental advantage, in saving lumber/trees.
Longevity is also a factor: roofs that last longer require less energy, materials, replacement cost and landfill space. Although cost may be 50-100% more than shingles, but less than tile or slate, metal roofing is a long-term investment that does not depreciate, and adds value to any home or commercial structure. An average cost of a metal roof, including installation, is approximately $5.00 per square foot. Replacement of an asphalt shingle roof is generally done every 10 years, while wood shake may last 15 years. The costs associated with each subsequent removal, disposal and new re-roofing material will outweigh the initial and often final expense of metal.
The building owner, along with the architect or contractor, must weigh the facts and decide whether the investment in a metal roof is worth the life-cycle savings, while helping to keep the environment healthy for future generations.
Certification program cosponsored by ACI.
For more information regarding metal used in the practice of "green building" contact firstname.lastname@example.org or ATAS International at 800-468-1441. Or Visit
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