Recently, government-driven energy-conservation programs have
affected the roofing industry. For example, the U.S. Department of
Energy successfully has promoted the use of light-colored roof
membranes through its ENERGY STAR® program. And studies
conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Berkeley,
Calif., have focused on heat islands and their potential effects on
air pollution. The studies indicate that factors contributing to
high temperatures in urban environments include a lack of
vegetation, nonreflective roofing materials and dark-colored
pavements. Of the three causal factors, lack of vegetation is
thought to contribute to 56 percent of the temperature rise with
roofing and pavement contributing to the remainder.
Although these environmental initiatives have received a great
deal of emphasis in urban areas within the southern United States,
the sweeping application of new energy standards has forced many
roofing contractors to abandon preferred roofing products.
Nowhere have energy standards gained more attention than in
Chicago where a new Chicago Energy Code was approved in June. The
standard includes the requirement that newly installed roof systems
maintain an albedo of 0.65 (a solar reflectance of 65 percent),
which eliminates the use or substantially increases the cost of
predominant roof systems in the Chicago area. The Chicago Energy
Code currently is under review to finalize acceptable levels of
reflectivity. The code body is considering an approach that
gradually would phase in the reflectivity...
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