The trend in construction is to create greener, more sustainable buildings. It’s no longer a novelty to build in sustainable, energy saving technology and features, or even design the building in an effort to impact the surrounding area less. Many regions and states are going to an even greater effort, and passing laws and regulations to reduce the impact of new construction.

California Asks the Question


California has a zero net energy initiative. Learn its effects on roofing.

Can a state become purely Zero Net Energy (ZNE)?

California is asking that question of the next generations of project managers, developers, and building owners. The state has been a leader in the past when it has come to adopting an eco-friendly stances. From stringent air pollution regulations to alternative fuels, California has often been the pioneering state.

The goals California has set forth are major. For the commercial building owner and project manager, the ones they are looking to meet are:

  • All new commercial construction being ZNE by 2030
  • At least 50% of commercial building to be retrofitted to be ZNE by 2030
  • 50% of new major renovations of state buildings to be ZNE by 2025

These may seem like lofty goals, but the truth is, many California buildings are already being developed with sustainability and reduced energy usage in mind. The state was one of the first to introduce city and state sustainable building task forces, and last year, had the second-most LEED-certified residential construction projects in the United States. And while California did not lead in per-capita comparisons, the state had over 89 million square feet of construction projects LEED certified in 2017, far and away the leader!

Roofing Provides an Energy Answer

The role of roofing in helping to accomplish these goals is massive. Today’s roofing systems provided numerous opportunities to reduce energy usage, reduce materials consumption, and at times even generate opportunities.

  • Properly insulated roofing system can retain more heat energy inside buildings, reducing utility consumption.
  • Every roof is an opportunity to generate electricity through the placement of solar panels.
  • The capture and redirection of rooftop stormwater can reduce runoff into waterways while simultaneously reducing the demand of a building and its landscape on municipal water sources.
  • Improved roofing surfaces can mitigate the heat-island effects in urban areas. This can include a reduction in air pollution as well as creating less global warming.
  • Improving the use and reuse of roofing materials allows us to reduce the amount of solid waste going into landfills every year.
  • Better roofing can lengthen the service life of a building and protect the interior components as well as products or property, further reducing potential waste.

That’s quite a bit you can get out of what is only a small part of your overall building project. For us here at Highland Commercial Roofing, we’ve found the best way to go, and the biggest step towards making your new construction or retrofitted building ZNE compliant, is utilizing cool roof technology.

Benefits of a Cool Roof

An integral part of the RainShield® Roofing System, white “Cool Roof” surfacing helps to reduce the impact of the sun on the roof, the building it is covering, and the environment. By reflecting the solar heat energy and ultraviolet radiation, the cool roof can lower peak roof temperatures by up to 65 degrees, while at the same time reducing membrane degradation and surface breakdown from the ultraviolet radiation.

A RainShield® Roofing System with “Cool Roof” surfacing can have benefits for the building owner as well as the surrounding community.

  • Smaller mechanical systems can be used. Since air conditioning equipment needs to be sized to accommodate peak loads, lowering the needed cooling can reduce the size and/or number of compressors and air handlers needed to cool the building.
  • Longer service life for rooftop air conditioning units. By reducing the temperature at rooftop level, the air conditioning units will operate at reduced temperature differentials, which can lower the strain placed on components and extend the service life of the unit.
  • As it is a surfacing component instead of a material component, it is sustainable and has no waste to contribute to landfills. Renewing the surfacing does not require tear-down and replacement of the roof system, merely recoating the existing membrane while repairing any underlying problems.
  • Ultraviolet radiation is one of the top contributors to roof membrane degradation, so by reflecting ultraviolet rays the “Cool Roof” surfacing can extend the service life of the roof and membrane.
  • By relieving the effects of the urban heat island, neighbors of buildings with cool roof systems in place can see lower ambient air temperatures, lower air pollution thanks to reducing the temperature-related formation of smog, and an overall improved quality of life, which can lead to improvements in work productivity and leisure activity.

While California is only recently pushing for the development of ZNE buildings, here at Highland Commercial Roofing we’ve been pushing the environmental and economic benefits of the cool roof systems for decades. It’s not just California either – these systems are perfect in any area where you receive high amounts of sunlight and sun energy throughout the year. Get in touch with our team and find out how we can help your new commercial construction project get ZNE-ready or retrofit your building with a RainShield® Roofing System featuring “Cool Roof” surfacing to meet ZNE requirements.