THE ROLE OF THE ROOF ON GREEN BUILDING RATING SCHEMES

The construction industry is increasingly looking into ways of becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly. "Green" buildings that are resilient in the face of climate change and are engineered to benefit both current and future generations have become desirable and sound investments. Architects, building owners and even their occupants are encouraged to take a more sustainable and cost-effective approach, both on new build and renovation projects.

But how to measure how sustainable a building is? Green building rating programs such as BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and DGNB, among others, aim to guide decision-makers, investors and designers. They cover a building’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance, from the design and construction phase to their operation and refurbishment.

Even across different countries, the fundamental principles of most sustainability assessment methods are the same: they all aim at achieving design efficiency, energy, water and materials efficiency, indoor environmental quality, maintenance and waste reduction. The essence of green buildings rating schemes is an optimization of one or more of these principles.
 

Activating the roof

A building’s roof plays a vital role in green building rating programs. Besides their primary function of providing long term protection from the elements, the roofs of today need to be sustainable. The choice of waterproofing membrane and type of roofing system is therefore extremely important.

Life cycle assessments are an important first step to calculate the environmental impact of roofing products. Green building schemes take a step further, taking a holistic approach that considers all important aspects of the total roofing system, including whether the membrane is exposed of not, the use of renewable energy sources, the contribution towards rainwater attenuation and the creation of a biodiverse habitat, among others.

 

A solar or green roof -or even better, a combination of both- on top of the roofing membrane greatly contributes to achieving high ratings in sustainability assessment methods such as BREAM and LEED. This, however, calls for a roofing system that can withstand the specific challenges of these type of installations.

EPDM roofing membranes deliver a reliable waterproofing solution that is extremely durable and fully compatible with green, solar and blue roofs. They contribute to achieving both programs’ highest rating levels by presenting many possibilities to build highly engineered roofing systems, each with a different sustainable value.

Firestone Building Products is a strong advocate of green building rating schemes. Its RubberGard EPDM roofing membrane is resilient, lightweight, inert, offers excellent weathering performance, outstanding durability and uses fewer natural resources than other traditional roofing membranes. It also offers a perfect match for green, solar and blue roofs, making it a very sustainable roofing solution.