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Metal Roofing as a "Green" Alternative to Traditional Roofing Materials

As Americans in general become more and more aware of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions, a growing number of homeowners are turning to metal roofing as a "green" alternative to traditional roofing materials. Metal roofing systems are growing in popularity every year, and a significant portion of that growth is due to their environmental appeal, according to Tony Chiovare, president of Custom-Bilt Metals, a long-time leader in the painted metal industry.

"Homeowners have discovered that installing a metal roofing system is not only one of the most environmentally responsible choices they can make, it's also one of the most cost-effective," said Chiovare, whose company manufactures and markets a wide variety of metal roofing systems.

Chiovare noted that metal roofing materials are virtually 100 percent recyclable, making them a very sensible choice from an environmental standpoint. Even more important, many of today's metal roofing systems are coated with infrared reflective "cool roof" finishes, which reflect much of the sun's infrared radiation and thereby offer significant energy savings.

"The energy savings offered by cool metal roofing are significant from both an environmental and an economic standpoint," noted Chiovare, whose company has helped pioneer the use of cool roof finishes.

In one recent demonstration project, monitored by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, metal shakes coated with Custom-Bilt Metals' ULTRA-Cool™ coating were found to reduce the amount of heat penetrating into a home's attic by as much as 36 percent.

"This important field test demonstrates the tremendous energy-saving potential that cool roof technology can provide," said Chiovare. "Because less heat penetrates the roof, the attic remains cooler and, in turn, the heat leaking into the air-conditioned home drops."

The cooler roof temperatures can produce as much as 20 percent savings in air-conditioning costs, yet since infrared energy is invisible, the roof color is unaffected. Custom-Bilt offers the new ULTRA-Cool coatings in 24 colors.

The potential environmental benefits of cool metal roofing systems are drawing the interest of utilities, trade associations, industry groups and government agencies, who are finding that metal roofing offers environmental benefits that are not always immediately apparent. For example, cool metal roofing can help to reduce the "urban heat island" effect, which will reduce the demand on utilities for electricity, most of which is generated by the burning of fossil fuels. In this way, metal roofing also contributes to cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of their environmental and energy-saving advantages, metal roofing systems such as Custom-Bilt Metals' ULTRA-Cool coatings are Energy Star®-qualified, and are recognized by major regulatory and rating organizations including California's recently updated Title 24 requirements and the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

"Of course, the environmental benefits of cool metal roofing are only one part of the big picture," said Chiovare. He noted that metal roofing also offers practical and aesthetic appeal to homeowners, in addition to its appeal as an environmentally responsible roofing choice.

"Metal roofing is already widely recognized for offering so many benefits, such as Class A fire resistance, extremely light weight, and excellent wind resistance," he said. "What's more, metal roofing is one of the most durable roofing systems available, which is why we market our roofing systems under the 'LAST-TIME®' brand. For most homeowners, this is literally the last roof they will need to buy."

That means fewer use of resources in the future, Chiovare noted - another example of metal roofing's long-term environmental benefits.

"Best of all, a homeowner does not have to sacrifice aesthetic appeal in order to do the right thing from an environmental standpoint," said Chiovare. He explained that, in addition to sleek and contemporary standing seam designs, Custom-Bilt Metals also offers metal roofing systems that replicate the look of traditional materials such as tile, shingles and wooden shakes.

"Today's metal roofing systems complement virtually every type of architecture and design," he said. "And they do it in a way that is cost-effective, durable and environmentally sensible."

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