Public Housing Residents Get ‘Cool’ New Biobased Roof Thanks to Federal Stimulus Money
Wilmington, Delaware Housing Authority (WHA) Executive Director Frederick S. Purnell, Sr. saw an opportunity to provide energy efficiency and environmental benefits to tenants earlier this year. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was planning to fund such projects.
“We had two facilities – one a 17-story high-rise and the other a three-story apartment complex – that really needed new roofs. HUD was looking for green ‘shovel ready’ projects, and these two fit that order perfectly,” Purnell says. The high-rise building, Crestview Apartments, now has a 15,000 squarefoot soy biobased roof. The three-story, Evans House Apartments, has a 5,600 square-foot soy biobased roof surface.
The roofs are coated with an Environmental Liquid Membrane system-ELMs®, an ENERGY STAR-rated roofing material. The white liquid membrane helps roofs exceed the life span of standard asphalt and tar applications by 10-20 years. It also reflects the sun’s rays, reducing urban heat islands from cities generating so much heat. (See our sidebar story on why the U.S. Secretary of Energy, a Nobel Prize laureate, recommends white roofs.)
Roofing Resources, Inc. (RRI) of nearby Chadds Ford, Penn. installed the new ELMs Roof. “The ELMs system provides a longer life cycle for roof systems and also reduces the heat island effect that impacts the building interior in some structures,” says RRI’s Erich Poch.
Purnell explains that federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act “Stimulus” funding has provided WHA with the extra dollars to refurbish and green some of its communities. WHA received more than $18 million in total Stimulus funds. Of that, $13 million has been specifically approved for green, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly projects at two developments. For example, the upcoming Lincoln Towers Project will create a newly constructed apartment complex featuring the latest in green technologies.
Health Benefits Too
Residential, urban flat roofs frequently have little or no space or insulation between the exterior roof surface and the interior living area. It is not unusual for a standard asphalt roof to have a surface temperature as high as 140 degrees on a 70-degree day. This thermal build heats the upper room air space and often drives air conditioning use into late evening hours during the summer months.
Research has linked “oppressive air masses” with health problems related to heat, especially respiratory-related mortality, cardiac arrests, stroke, and of course, a variety of direct heat-related illnesses. Since urban environments are where the most heat-related deaths are recorded, efforts to reduce the impacts of high temperatures in our cities can have significant health benefits. The ELMs roof reflects the sun and quickly emits absorbed heat back into the atmosphere. During the highest temperatures under the brightest sunshine the ELMs liquid membrane seldom rises above ambient air temperature and cools rapidly after sunset. The ELMs roof materials keep the interior temperature cooler which reduces the costs associated with air conditioning. Energy reduction is achieved by extending roof life expectancy, reducing cooling and heating costs, while keeping the building interior dry.
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