The Benefits of Reflective Roofing

Beat the Heat:

The Benefits of Reflective Roofing

As the Chicago summer heat beats down on your commercial roof, temperatures up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit are possible if you’re not using reflective roofing. The hotter your roof gets, the warmer your building will be.

According to Energy Star, a sixth of all electricity generated in the United States is used for air conditioning, and due to commercial roof overheating, ac units must work harder in the summertime.

The insulation in your building and on your commercial roof can only do so much to maintain internal temperatures, so it might be time to upgrade your commercial roof and invest in reflective roofing.

What is Reflective Roofing?

Reflective roofing, otherwise known as cool roofs, uses materials that absorb less solar energy, thus reducing their temperature by more than 50°F compared to traditional roofing materials. Most cool roofs reflect 70% of the sun’s energy, thus reducing energy bills and any urban heat island effects.

Since 2009, the City of Chicago has required reflective roofing products on new buildings or new roofing projects on older buildings. A 2022 study revealed that if all the buildings in Chicago upgraded their roofing materials to reflective, vegetative, or solar paneled materials, they’d “reduce temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius and reduce energy consumption by more than 16%.”

Benefits of a Reflective Roof

Unlike a dark roof, a reflective roof features a thick, white paint-like surface that does just what its name says: reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them. Reflecting the sun’s rays keeps internal temperatures down.

A reflective roof lowers the air temperatures around the building, reducing what’s known as the urban heat island effect. Inside the building, you’ll use less air conditioning, leading to a reduction in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution.

Less energy use means a lower energy bill for the building owner. And if more buildings in an urban area use less electricity, the risk of power outages at peak usage times goes down.

As an additional benefit, lower roof-surface temperatures help protect the roof materials from ultraviolet light, meaning they can last longer, saving you money—and reducing waste—in the long run. The longer you can keep your roof functioning as it should, the better.

Because a reflective roof reduces heat absorption, it does reduce the benefit of solar heat gain in the winter, but the significant amount of energy saved during the summer months offsets this loss.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Reflective Roofing

What are reflective roofing materials?

There are a variety of different reflective roofing materials that provide various amounts of solar absorption as well as varying costs. It’s important to consider which reflective roofing material offers the best value for your commercial roof.

The white reflective coating provides better direct cooling effects than green roofs because of the polymers mixed with the paint.

Other reflective roofing materials include pigmented roof coatings, PVC or single-ply EPDM roof materials, and solar panels; all provide reductions in building temperatures.

Do reflective shingles work?

Yes, with some caveats. If the goal is to lower temperatures during the summer heat, reflective shingles reduce building temperatures, increase energy efficiency, and limit global warming effects.

But during the winter, reflective roofing does not keep the heat inside your building as it continues to reflect solar heat no matter the season.

What is the most reflective roofing material?

For the most reflective roofing materials, white products can reflect anywhere from 60-90% of all solar rays. These materials include white coating, PVC, and single-ply EPDM; all provide value in reducing summer energy costs.

What are the cons of a reflective roof?

With your commercial building’s white roofing, it is much easier to get dirty over time. Debris, rain, snow, and anything else that nature throws at your roof will more than likely show. Few people see your roof, so it doesn’t become a huge issue.

The second biggest con to installing reflective roofing is the cost. Since Chicago mandates reflective or green roofs for any new or existing commercial roofing projects, cost is simply a matter of which commercial roofing company you work with.

While reflective roofing lowers energy costs in the summer, the lack of absorption in the winter may raise heating bills. The idea is that the energy savings during the heat greatly outweigh the increased costs in the winter.

How to Choose a Reflective Roofing Installation Company?

When choosing a company to work with for a reflective roofing project, it’s important to work with someone you trust. Ridgeworth Roofing has been installing, maintaining, and repairing commercial roofs for over 40 years.

Our decades of experience and knowledgeable employees allow the Ridgeworth Roofing team to create a long-lasting commercial roof.

Need Reflective Roofing? Call Ridgeworth Roofing Today.

Ridgeworth Roofing’s team of expert contractors provides high-quality commercial roofing installation, maintenance, and inspection services throughout the Chicagoland area. 

For custom quotes, send us a message or call (708) 554-7010 to speak with one of our commercial roofing professionals.