Energy Efficiency Grows
Energy efficiency dominates many building material choices, and it’s growing as a factor within roof systems, with such products as cool roofs, solar panels and radiant-barrier sheathing. “There’s been tremendous growth in
radiant-barrier sheathing in the last 10 years, but it’s especially boomed in the last five years,” says Lorraine Bittles, OSB product manager with LP Building Products. “Most of the sales are in the Sunbelt and along the coasts. Those markets understand that radiant-barrier sheathing easily adds value to the roof project.”
Cool roofs also are gaining awareness. “Homeowners still show interest in solar-reflective ‘cool shingles’,” Owens Corning’s Burkett says. “It is one of the top searches on our website, but they’re not necessarily a top-seller. There’s interest, but there’s less follow-through. Homeowners’ hearts are in the right place for sustainability, but the aesthetic might not be their style or the price may be too high. In the end, when it comes to roofs, it’s easier and more affordable to add insulation to the attic to be more energy efficient.”
Interest in cool roofs has boosted awareness of other roofing options. “Homeowners want long-term costcutting choices,” ABC’s Tighe says. “Metal roofing can lower utility bills by using reflective-paint finishes, which can reduce summer cooling costs by as much as 40%.” Adds Huber’s Flotkoetter, “Homeowners are looking to add energy efficiency, and an improved sheathing adds another layer to that. It also adds air sealing, which helps efficiency.”
LP sees more focus on the “attic envelope” in general during roofing projects, which can encourage homeowners to expand the project to include attic insulation. “Radiant-barrier sheathing and spray foam are two approaches to improving the quality of the attic system,” she says. “As energy codes evolve, we’re seeing attic insulation and the focus on the attic system becoming more important.”
Solar panels also are gaining attention. “We’re spending a lot of time on solar roofing,” CertainTeed’s Mc- Donagh-Forde says. “The market is interested— it’s becoming more desirable and affordable.” GAF’s Avitabile agrees. “Going forward, energy savings will be a key factor for sales. We’ve seen growing interest in our solar-roofing system, underlayments, which offer insulative value, and solar-powered ventilators. We’re being asked more questions about solar energy. Architects especially are looking to add more innovative products to their options.”
Metal roofing works well with solar panels, notes Metal Sales’ Nolte. “Metal roofs make a great substrate for solar panels, which are becoming more popular. Metal roofs can easily support the panels and make them more stable.” Clips can connect the panels to the roof, avoiding penetrations, and the metal roofing can last longer than the panels’ service life, evading the need to remove them to replace the roof during their lifetime.