Is Your Roof Environmentally Friendly?

Is Your Roof Environmentally Friendly?

When it comes to saving money, every commercial business wants in. Many don’t realize that it’s more than just the products you sell, but the energy your building uses that helps save money. The US General Services Administration notes that an environmentally friendly commercial roof provides a return on investment of 224%.

Chicago has 500 green roofs, 13 rooftop farms, and 5,564,412 square feet of green roof coverage, making it one of the top cities in the country for environmentally friendly commercial roofs.

While the city did not meet its goal of 6,000 green roofs by 2020, every commercial building owner should understand what goes into an environmentally friendly roof. 

Chicago Environmentally Friendly Commercial Roofing

chicago skyline from the west southwest in the background. garden roof in the foreground

From Chicago City Hall to the environmentally stable PepsiCo Headquarters downtown, our city’s dedication to lowering energy costs while protecting the Earth is the standard bearer for the rest of the country.

Various programs and permits exist within Chicago, incentivizing local businesses to invest in green roofing technologies to improve the city’s image and sustainability efforts. These initiatives have led hundreds of commercial business owners to install new green roofs.

Ridgeworth Roofing remains one of Chicagoland’s premier green roofing installation and maintenance companies. Our team of commercial roofing experts delivers the best quality experience, whether you’re looking for garden roofing, reflective roofing, or solar panels.

Environmentally Friendly Commercial Roofing Materials

There are four key elements to identifying whether or not a commercial roofing material is eco-friendly: what is it made from, how is it manufactured, how does the material perform over the roof’s lifetime, and how is the material disposed of.

Metal roofs made from aluminum, steel, and copper often utilize recycled materials. Another popular commercial roofing material is Thermoplastic Polyolefin. Not only will the material cool your roof, but it also can be recycled once it needs to be replaced.

Sustainability is essential for any environmentally friendly roofing material. Commercial roofs made with rubber from recycled tires frequently last up to 50 years.

Additional insulation helps maintain a building’s internal temperature, preventing heat loss through the roof in the winter and keeping cool air inside during the summer.

When contacting commercial roofing companies, ask them about the materials they use, their sustainability, and how they should be disposed of.

Green Roofing

Reflective Roof Surfaces

reflective white metal roof

White reflective roof surfaces use reflective materials to cast back the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them as a dark-colored roof would, keeping the inside of the building cooler.

According to the Department of Energy, conventional roofs can reach temperatures of 150°F or more on sunny afternoons while a reflective roof could stay more than 50°F cooler under the same conditions.

A building with a reflective roof maintains significantly lower temperatures and requires less air conditioning. Less air conditioning means reduced energy use, emissions, and air pollution, which is good for the environment.

The resulting lower roof-surface temperature also helps roof materials last longer—a win for you and the environment.

Metal shingles painted with light- or cool-colored paint or factory-surfaced with reflective mineral granules work best to reflect while not retaining too much heat on your roof’s surface.

The Environmental Protection Agency highlights three key benefits of a reflective roof: reduced energy usage, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improved human health and comfort.

If your building is located in the City of Chicago and has been roofed or re-roofed in the past fifteen years, your roof has a reflective surface. The city has required reflective roofing products on new buildings and any roofing project on a structure already in existence since 2008.

For more information about Ridgeworth Roofing’s reflective roofing abilities, contact us online, and a dedicated roofing specialist can schedule a consultation.

Vegetative Roofs

city rooftop with rows of vegetation in the middle of skyscrapers

Vegetative or garden roofs are environmentally friendly roof surfaces with a vegetative layer growing on them. The Green Roof Garden at the Chicago Botanical Gardens is one of the more popular vegetative roofs in our area.

These green roofs contain various grasses, vegetable plants, and even trees. The Chicago City Hall building vegetative roof was installed as part of an Environmental Protection Agency study to understand better the effect of roofing materials on urban heat islands and air quality.

As of 2023, there are around 300+ vegetative roofs across Chicagoland, with some being accessible to patrons in the area. And that number is expected to grow as demand for vegetative roofing will increase by 5.1% yearly.

Vegetative roofs provide more than just plants. They remove heat from the air surrounding the roof through evapotranspiration, maintain a low surface temperature, and reduce energy use for internal temperature regulation.

By doing so, you’re reducing the energy usage in your commercial building, thus saving you lots of money long-term.

Another clear benefit of a vegetative roof is that they provide excellent stormwater management. Unlike traditional roofs that let the rain fall off via slope or pile up, garden roofs absorb and hold the water to prevent overflowing your drains.

Lastly, because your roof membrane is covered with plants, it has less direct access to sunlight and other potentially harmful elements elongating your commercial roof’s lifespan.

Solar Panels

solar panels sitting on top of Chicago urban neighborhood rooftop

As of 2020, only about 1.6% of commercial buildings across the United States have solar panels installed. If you’re part of the other 98%, you’re missing out on lowering your greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

Solar panels convert the abundant sunlight found on rooftops into electricity. Homeowners who use solar panels save around $37,000 over the lifetime of their panels, while commercial building owners may save nearly $90,000 over the lifetime of their solar panels.

The initial installation for solar panels usually begins in the $12,000 range and goes up from there, depending on the size of your roof and the materials needed. Although initially expensive, some consider the return on investment for solar panels worth the startup cost.

Ridgeworth Roofing works with more commercial roof owners every year adding solar panels to their roofs limiting their environmental footprint while increasing their cost-savings.

Want a more environmentally friendly roof? Call Ridgeworth Roofing today.

The roofing experts at Ridgeworth Roofing understand the needs of Chicagoland’s commercial building owners. From yearly commercial roof inspections to regular maintenance, our trained professionals provide everything you need to prevent costly repairs and maximize the lifespan of your commercial roof.