In the building and construction industry, the past decade has seen an increase in environmental consciousness and the impact buildings have on our environment. As roofing experts with over 125 years of experience, we often get questions about the different programs and codes that apply to earth-conscious building.
One of the most familiar and largest programs is LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. It is a government certification program that awards companies based on a points system and is focused on energy consumption. Typically LEED has applied to new construction, but it is not limited to this.
There are five points rating systems, each with its own specifications, ranging from types of construction (retail, school, etc.) to specifics such as interior versus exterior. While the context of construction varies, the overall purpose is to reduce energy use and award those who are doing so.
LEED has seen ups and downs over the years in its popularity and the importance placed on it, especially as new construction decreased significantly. However, whether it’s LEED or any other program, American companies are increasingly concerned with environmental impact, and that’s the most important thing.
From a roofing perspective, there are plenty of ways the energy footprint can be reduced. For instance, using renewable resources, such as clay tile on steep roofs, can be seen as beneficial.
Then there’s the longevity of a material; slate or tile roof, for instance, can last 80 years, and in general, if a roof lasts 25 years, rather than 10, it has less of an energy impact.
Effective use of insulation reduces the impact on mechanical equipment and therefore saves energy. In warmer states, the use of reflectivity reduces the amount of work cooling equipment has to perform. Additionally, garden roofs might receive LEED points or would be considered beneficial by other programs, as they help limit the speed at which storm water goes into a drainage system.
Finally, if we were to use roofing products made within 500 miles of our job site—for us, the Midwest—energy during transport is minimized.
Whether it’s to get LEED points or comply with any other green codes, we are consistently aware of and focused on the environment, and we are happy to know that so are many other companies around the country.