Most building owners today are pretty savvy about how different roofing elements play a role in a building’s energy costs, including the roof’s color, location, age, condition, and the R-value of the insulation. However, what many building owners may not realize is that managing these roofing elements is also an important part of energy conservation. Fortunately, roofing asset management software makes it easier for building owners and managers to collect, store, and access the information necessary to make the most of their roofing investments.
Maintain an Inventory
One important step in managing the energy costs of roofing systems is simply taking inventory of the details and specifics of existing roofs. Are there black roofs in a sunny climate that might benefit from a reflective white coating to reduce cooling costs? How much insulation does each roof have, and when was it installed? Is a particular building showing substantial energy savings that may be due to materials or equipment (such as solar panels) that should be considered for use on other roofs? If a building has a green roof featuring vegetation (pictured here) over the roofing or waterproofing material, is there detailed information on what is underneath the vegetation to make locating and repairing a roof leak easier?
All of this information can be collected and managed in a roofing asset management database, where it can also be easily accessed and shared with other involved parties. Ideally, the roofing asset management system will offer easy ways to enter this information into the system, whether it is by providing “wizards” that guide users through the data entry process, the ability to scan information directly from existing files, or the means to have information directly downloaded from laptops or tablet PCs. In addition, some programs allow information to be exported to the database from external files, such as CAD drawings or digital photos.
Track Roof Maintenance and Conditions
Another important factor in a roof’s energy performance is the condition of the roofing materials. Do the white roofs have dirt on them that may compromise their reflectivity capabilities? Has there been a recent roof leak that caused damage or deterioration to the roof’s insulation? Is a roof due to have its white coating reapplied? Some roofing asset management software programs will automatically flag when a roof is due for routine inspections and maintenance, and also allow digital photos of current roof conditions and repairs to be attached to appropriate files.
Evaluate the Cost-Effectiveness of Energy Modifications
A roofing asset management software program can also help facility owners and managers evaluate which roofs may be candidates for energy-saving modifications, and also help determine when it is more cost-effective to replace or repair a roof. For instance, the software could generate a comparison between the energy savings of white roofs vs. black roofs in similar climates to help determine if the energy savings of white roofs justify replacing the black ones.
Good roofing energy management begins - and is sustained - with good roofing information. Roofing asset management software can help building owners gather and manage this information and, thereby, increase their ROI on energy-saving features.
Steven James is president of Acton, MA-based Digital Facilities Corp. (www.digital-facilities.net).