Some of the most energy-efficient improvements you can make in your home take place at the top. One of them involves your roofing system. The solar heat gain that accumulates via hot roofs causes your HVAC to run overtime, which also keeps those energy bills significantly higher than necessary. An energy-efficient roof design mitigates solar heat gain, noticeably reducing your home’s energy consumption.

Study Up on Your Energy-Efficient Roof Design Options

From the basic technical side, there are extensive, or shallow, and intensive, or deep roof systems.

From the basic technical side, there are extensive, or shallow, and intensive, or deep roof systems.

Rebecca Bachand is a colleague of ours and expert on green roofing, and has plenty of advice for anyone who is considering creating a more eco-friendly roof for their home.  There are several options for designing energy-efficient roofs, but two of our favorites include painted roofs and green roofs. In addition to reducing solar heat gain in the home, painted and green rooftops also help to reduce the heat island effect. Collectively, they can lower the temperature of your surrounding community by several degrees!

  • Painted Roofs. Not surprisingly, this option requires a special, light-colored paint that is literally painted on your traditional roofing system. The paint is typically white, although pale colors with reflective additives are also an attractive option. The light rooftop will reflect the sun’s rays, keeping them out of your home. The cons include the labor and maintenance involved, as well as the responsibility of the homeowners to use eco-friendly paint products so they aren’t trading energy-efficiency for more wide-spread pollution.
  • Green Roofs. Who doesn’t like the idea of a greenscape on a roof? Bachand notes that on the technical side, these can be extensive, or shallow, and intensive, or deep roof systems, all ultimately capable of accommodating greenery and plant life, assuming your architect has accommodated for the additional load requirements. The intended use really dictates what type of system is best (E.G. Is it for flowers and shrubs or is it for trees).
The biggest consideration that you should have when choosing to build a green roof is that coordination among the design team is critical.

The biggest consideration that you should have when choosing to build a green roof is that coordination among the design team is critical.

In addition to cooling your home and reducing the heat-island effect, green roofs improve air quality, look fantastic, and make a typically unusable space completely functional. Things to consider include water requirements and your own willingness to maintain the greenery (or to hire someone else to do it.)

Bachand strongly advocates that the biggest thing you should consider when building a green roof is that coordination with the design team is key. Factors like design, maintenance, and programming/use, structural considerations, accessibility issues, and maintaining the integrity of the waterproofing and insulation should be considered from the roof’s inception, not after the fact.

Each green roof design provides it's own set of challenges and required research.

Each green roof design provides it’s own set of challenges and required research.

The Baystate project is Bachand’s favorite green roof design.  Intended for staff, patients, and visitors, and including a pediatric wing, this Allston facility featured movable planters and furniture that incorporated landform as a means of providing additional privacy at patient windows. With that said, we are currently detailing gardens for a boutique hotel in Boston that will require two plant palettes: one for full sun, one for full shade

Would you like to learn more about energy-efficient roof design and other creative methods for improving the eco-friendliness of your home or new design project? Schedule a consultation with Leslie Saul & Associates to discuss your green roofing options.