Earning Green from Going Green
With just over three decades until 2050, the year Toronto must make good on its pledge to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, it seems the city has decided to pull out all the stops in order to entice Torontonians to get on the “go green” bandwagon.
Adopted by city council in 2009, the Eco-Roof Incentive Plan is what many consider to be the foundation of Toronto’s aggressive environmental recovery strategy; a strategy that not only aims to make Toronto a source of inspiration for other municipalities looking to reduce their carbon footprint, but also one that rewards citizens who commit to making their city a better place.
You might not think it, but part of going “green” actually means going white; at least as far as your roof is concerned.
White Eco-Roofs: What Are They?
A white (or cool) eco-roof is a roofing system (that can be installed by any number of qualified roofing contractors) the goal of which is to reflect the Sun’s solar radiation, and thus heat, away from a building.
Conventional roofing materials like asphalt or steel absorb the Sun’s heat, which in turn radiates down into the building, causing air conditioning units to work harder than they need to in an effort to continuously churn out the cool air that makes our homes and offices a blessed oasis from the brutal heat of a summer sun.
A cool-roof does just the opposite; rather than absorbing the heat of the Sun, it reflects a greater portion of it back into the sky, a process known as thermal emissivity. The less solar radiation is absorbed, the less the Sun’s impact will be on the ambient temperature of the building – making the environment both in and out of the building more pleasant.
A Cool Roof Doesn’t Always Mean a White Roof
Yes, your existing roof can be converted to a cool roof by either the application of a white coating or the installation of a thin watertight layer – but truth be told, there are many materials available on the market that won’t limit the style of your home. For instance, there are specially designed aluminums that have a high Solar Reflectivity Index (SRI) and yet have a dark pigmentation, meaning you can have the style of roof that will complement your home rather than take away from its aesthetic appeal.
The Benefits of Owning an Eco-Roof
If preserving the environment weren’t enough of an incentive to rethink your current roofing situation, the following may be of interest to you. Remember that incentive plan we alluded to a couple of paragraphs ago?
Under the Eco-Roof Incentive Plan, any resident converting their roof to an eligible cool roof can receive $2 – $5 per meter – up to a maximum of $50,000 – for their efforts; and that’s just the tip of the benefits iceberg. Government financial incentives aside, there are a few additional perks that you might want to consider:
- Reduces cooling costs: A cool roof will keep your utility bills down as it will require less cooling from your A/C unit
- Air conditioning units last longer: Believe it or not, cranking the A/C all summer long can significantly reduce the lifespan of your unit.
- Preserve air quality: With fewer cooling systems running, there are fewer greenhouse gases being pumped into the air; making urban spaces more enjoyable to use
The year 2050 may see many innovative things come to pass; new technologies that we can scarce imagine now will make our lives infinitely easier. One thing is for certain however; our actions today will impact our tomorrow – so join the green revolution Toronto!
Have you already joined the green revolution? How have you made your home more green? Have you taken advantage of any “green” incentives offered to homeowners?