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AmerCable Incorporated

Articles - energy conservation (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)


Re-roofing offers the ideal time to add insulation and a cool roof. However, your 5-year-old roof may be performing well despite its inability to reflect the sun's ultraviolet rays. A tear-off isn't justifiable, but the application of a white or light roof coating might be. Acrylic or elastomeric coatings contain white pigments to boost reflectance and can be ideal for built-up and modified bitumen roofing systems. In addition to increasing reflectivity, coatings enhance the performance of the roof system by extending its life. "It should enhance performance, because now you're restricting moisture contact with the membrane and you are also reducing the thermal load and solar degradation of a built-up roof," Cattel explains. Another method for increasing reflectivity on a dark-surfaced modified bitumen roof is adding white or light-colored ballast.



Significant heat gain and loss is the result of a poorly insulated building. According to the Alexandria, VA-based North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), "A building that is thermally efficient reduces the amount of energy required to maintain a comfortable living/working environment." The thermal efficiency of a building is largely dependent on insulation decisions--the type of insulation, the R-value, and the placement (e.g. rooftop, cavity wall, heating and air-conditioning ducts, piping, etc.).

When undertaking a new construction project, your options are to meet code or exceed it. If you choose the latter, you're probably in the minority - but as energy prices continue to soar, the decision to spend more upfront will result in less painful utility bills in the future. "Remember, the code is the legal minimum," says Jared O. Blum, president, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), Alexandria, VA. "One of the mistakes that is made in the building community is the feeling that [the minimum] is all we need to do."

To justify higher initial costs, use any number of modeling programs to calculate the level of insulation and envelope enhancements that can result in reduced energy. Software like ENERGY-10, an energy simulation tool for buildings offered by the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, estimates the payback for a variety of sustainable design strategies. This is just one of many programs available.

Because buildings with increased thermal performance reduce the amount of outside air penetrating in and the level of conditioned (warm and cool) air escaping, HVAC systems won't have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable interior environment. The money saved by downsizing this equipment can help offset the increased costs of installing insulation that has a greater R-value than what codes mandate.


A major modernization project provides the perfect opportunity to increase the R-value of an existing building's insulation. If a gut-rehab isn't on the planning boards, consider your next re-roofing project as the ideal time to apply insulation to minimize air leakage and infiltration. Improper installation of roof insulation (often in the form of rigid board stock) can compromise thermal performance. Ask your roofing contractor or consultant how they plan to reduce the likelihood of thermal bridging (when conditioned air escapes through joints in the insulation board).

While maintaining insulation might seem like the easiest task on your to-do list, it's imperative that the building envelope be monitored closely for water penetration. Any leaks in the facade or roof will compromise the thermal value of the building's insulation.



Window-laden buildings maximize the opportunity to use daylight as opposed to electric lighting, thereby saving energy. However, if inefficient windows are selected, the savings reaped from less lighting will be minimal in comparison to the increased heating and cooling required. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance to Save Energy: "Today's high-efficiency windows are 40-percent more energy efficient than standard, less-efficient ones and can improve heating and cooling energy savings by some 15 percent." To select the most efficient product for your new building, learn the terminology. The Portland, OR-based Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance's Commercial Windows Initiative provides the following definitions in its Designer's Guide for Energy-Efficient Commercial Windows:


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