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From Audit to Action: Roof Coating Keeps Company Cool

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword in institutional and commercial facilities. Organizations are implementing more sustainable operations for both the environmental benefi-ts and the positive impact on their bottom lines

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword in institutional and commercial facilities. Organizations are implementing more sustainable operations for both the environmental benefits and the positive impact on their bottom lines.

With energy use heading the list of savings opportunities, utilities have begun to offer free energy audits to determine a facility’s energy use. During these audits, the utility company checks all systems, including lighting and HVAC, to get a clearer sense of a building’s energy use and to gather data for making specifi-c recommendations for improving its energy efficiency.

Implementing these solutions can ensure an organization qualifies for incentive and rebate programs. For example, Florida Power and Light offers numerous incentives to small and large businesses that use energy-efficient products for air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration, water heating, and other systems.

At Digital Image Business Solutions in Sarasota, Fla., the biggest opportunity for energy savings came from the HVAC system at the company’s two-year-old headquarters facility. The air conditioning system ran constantly but barely reduced the building’s internal temperature – a serious issue in Florida’s humid climate, particularly in the summer.

Realizing the situation was costly to the company’s bottom line and the environment, the company asked Florida Power and Light to conduct an audit, which revealed the building’s galvanized metal roof as the source of the problem.

Galvanized metal roofs, which withstand Florida’s harsh, corrosive sea air, often are used in commercial construction due to their long-term durability. But the combination of the metal roof and the building’s support structure caused the roof’s surface heat – reaching temperatures as high as 150 degrees in the summer – to directly transmit into the facility.

The company decided to specify the Uniflex white reflective coating system – an Energy Star-rated product – from KST Coatings, a division of Sherwin-Williams, to lower those surface temperatures and subsequent energy costs.

Uniflex improves an organization’s environmental responsibility by lowering energy use, but the coating system also helps managers avoid roof replacement and disposal costs. Workers can apply the coating on any common roofing surface, including metal, ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), hypalon, and modified roofs. When installed properly, the coating can extend a roof’s life expectancy by up to three times, which keeps material out of landfills. The energy savings for customers typically can pay for the cost of the product in less than 10 years.

The three-day project at Digital Image Business Solutions delivered immediate results. The roof temperature dropped from 150 degrees to 90 degrees, and the building temperature dropped to 72 degrees, allowing the air conditioning unit to- shut off periodically.

The company also implemented other energy-saving recommendations from its utility, leading to substantial savings. Energy use dropped from more than 5,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) a month to fewer than 4,000 kWh, and energy-saving measures have reduced utility bills by more than $1,200 annually.

The company’s commitment to green solutions goes beyond the roof. The company integrates green practices throughout its operations, as well as the products and services it offers its customers.

"Implementing green solutions have not just financially benefited our company," says Greg Anderson, business manager for Digital Image Business Solutions. "Those choices also have had, and will continue to have, a greater positive impact on our environment as a whole."

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