More than apples to oranges

Choosing the right roof system goes beyond white or black membranes

"A scientific theory should be as simple as possible but no simpler." —Albert Einstein

If Einstein were alive, many roofing contractors might be turning to him for help. Faced with the complex problem of choosing roof systems to fit their customers' budgets and building code requirements, roofing professionals are being bombarded with "science-based" solutions that can be either too simple or too complicated.

Although much of the industry discussion has focused on the choice of white or black membranes, researchers and roofing professionals now realize choosing a roof system is not just a black or white issue. Are there guidelines in our future based on science-based information that also work in the real world?

A small army of researchers is looking at this problem, factoring in issues such as cost, climate, membrane sustainability, roof color and insulation. I talked to several leaders in the field, and they shared their insights and questions about where the industry is and where it needs to go to achieve energy-efficient roof systems.