Roofing Intervention Opportunities
Beyond their primary functions, roofing is deeply linked to essential aspects of urban life. As such, it is necessary to have a check on the conditions under which they are functioning and to intervene whenever necessary. Each intervention should also be seen as a window of opportunity for optimization. Read on to learn more.
The contribution of a roof to the building’s good energy performance
Energy qualification is one of the most important things to consider when intervening in an existing roof. Even though the primary objective of the intervention is to eliminate a common pathology such as rainwater inlet, it can be used as an opportunity to improve the energy performance of the entire roof.
In most cases, this improvement will have huge benefits in terms of environmental comfort, indoor air quality, and also the energy consumption savings associated with comfort. This reduces the need for heating and cooling systems.
Some existing roofs are not thermally insulated and, if any, are insufficient or poorly applied. This important component, when properly applied, solves many of the problems that affect the interior of the building:
- Increases comfort during the winter by reducing thermal losses and interrupting the upward flow of heat generated inside the building;
- Increases comfort during the summer by reducing heat gain due to the higher outside temperature and direct exposure of the roof to solar radiation, preventing heat from entering the cover resulting from the combination of the two situations;
- The unwanted phenomenon of condensation (as well as the harmful outbreaks of microorganisms) decreases when they become uniform and attenuate the temperatures of surfaces in contact with indoor air;
- It contributes to ensuring the longevity of the structural materials that make up the roof because it reduces their exposure to the thermal amplitudes characteristic of the Portuguese climate.
The roof’s contribution to good water management in the city
Green or garden roofs are becoming increasingly popular today. In addition to the aesthetic component, this type of roof has many advantages that we will see throughout this article, one of which is the contribution to better management of rainwater.
All green surfaces help to mitigate the detrimental effect of torrential rain on sensitive areas of the city, as they can slow the runoff of rainwater. Building and urban infrastructures can contribute in the first place to delaying the effect of rainwater run-off and, secondly, to make use of these waters for non-potable uses: irrigation, washing, toilet flushing (safeguarding all safety rules), among others. Using these waters safeguards drinking water, which is a precious resource.
Urban planning should therefore not only determine the depth permeability parameters of urban soils but also consider the capacity of building roofs for the temporary retention of rainwater.
The contribution of a roof to good energy management in the city
Environmental concerns are on the agenda and are increasingly being recognized as a sign of progress in the organization of urban space.
Electricity and heat production, when using systems that transform endogenous energies, contributes decisively to the security of energy supply and to increase urban resilience. These systems are compatible with plant surfaces and are easily integrable into roofs.
Turning renewable energy into useful energy in a decentralized manner is a key measure for social prosperity. For this prosperity to be widely felt and for the resulting benefits to accrue to end-users, opportunities for intervention must be seized.
To extend the practice of generating energy on a local scale using as many endogenous resources as possible – room temperature, sun, and wind – urban planning needs to define the appropriate spaces for these facilities, whether in public places, leftover spaces, public spaces, building facades and, of course, roofs.
The contribution of a roof to good food safety management in the city
We will hear more and more of the term “urban agriculture”. Urban agriculture can have several advantages, including:
- Reduction of the negative effects of poverty on cities;
- Strengthening urban resilience in times of adversity (in the event of a disaster, the food productivity of plant surfaces can contribute to increasing community survival);
- The cohesion of urban communities;
- The emotional and spiritual well-being of citizens.
Although in many cities it is still a slow-growing practice and still associated with certain stigmas, it is essential that cities become increasingly self-sufficient in the food they eat.
It is urgent to rethink the planning of the urban space, taking advantage of the poorly used surfaces, such as the roofs of buildings, and using endogenous resources, such as the use of rainwater for irrigation.
The contribution of a roof to good air quality and noise management in the city
So many consecutive decades of urban transport using combustion engines and fossil fuels have contributed decisively to polluting and deteriorating outdoor air quality and increasing noise in cities, endangering the health and lives of many citizens.
Urban populations are increasingly suffering from respiratory diseases and the main environmental complaint from citizens is associated with noise.
All green surfaces help attenuate some noise, trap suspended particles, absorb pollution and alleviate the negative effect of poor air quality on the most sensitive people who spend their time in the city.
In order to improve outdoor air quality, in addition to minimizing the causes of pollution, it is important for urban planning to determine which spaces are suitable for turning into green and living surfaces. The roofs should not be left out of the equation.
The contribution of a roof to good city climate management
Have you heard of the “urban heat island” effect? This effect results from cities’ inability to drain thermal energy during heat waves, endangering the lives of many people living in them, as the thermal gradient can exceed 5 ° C compared to the surrounding rural areas.
High temperatures can be lethal to the most vulnerable groups: the elderly, sick children and anyone who has no way of protecting themselves from such temperatures as the homeless.
All green surfaces and those where high reflectivity coatings have been applied contribute to attenuating the negative effect of heatwaves on the city’s most fragile populations.
Green surfaces have the ability to accumulate rainwater and irrigation water by the effect of vapo-perspiration to attenuate the outside temperature in heat phases.
In order to mitigate the heat island effect, it is important that planning determines the degree of climate mitigation desired, in a quantified manner, and also sets performance targets and possible incentives for an excellent performance.
A roof’s contribution to good biodiversity management in the city
Even though by definition, mulching in the city is a discontinuous plan at a high quota, when we add the plant dimension to it, they result in islands of biodiversity. These islands will be increasingly important to ensure the survival of plant species and to make a decisive contribution to urban sustainability and the quality of life of citizens.
Cities can thus play a key role in preventing biodiversity, with the input of all citizens. The larger the number of biodiversity islands and the closer they are to each other, the greater the likelihood of survival and development of insect species and microorganisms, which are so important for pollination of relevant species and therefore beneficial to the environmental balance and well-being of the ecosphere.
The contribution of a roof to the welfare and quality of life of the inhabitants
If we look at it, well-being and quality of life are the factors that most motivate building owners to intervene in the built environment, because they result in the comfort that their housing offers them.
Above all, thermal comfort, but also indoor air quality and, consequently, healthiness are associated with the constitution of the roof and the condition that it performs its function correctly.
Thermal comfort is also a precondition for productivity because it affects our concentration. If we think of an office building where employees lack comfort, they will be less focused and less creative, which could result in serious damage to the organization.
Welfare is a comprehensive condition. It integrates our perception of comfort – acoustic, visual and thermal -, healthiness (indoor air quality), climate, quality of relationship with the community and the reality around us, among other factors.
The human being is a social being and therefore socialization is also a fundamental aspect of our quality of life. A visitable and ideally green roof, which constitutes a collective space of a residential building, can contribute to consolidate human and social networks, providing informal interaction between neighbors. Support and availability for mutual help among neighbors can be an extremely empowering factor for the local community.
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Article based on the book “Efficient Roofs – 3 I Guide for Building Environmental Energy Rehabilitation” by Adene – Energy Agency