GAF recently announced the production of more than 1 billion square feet of Everguard® TPO roofing. TPO stands for ThermoPlastic Olefin, which is a flexible, weatherable, plastic alloy of polypropylene (a related material is widely used in automotive, particularly in products like dashboards that are exposed to a lot of sunlight). TPO is widely considered one of the best options in commercial roofing for its combination of proven performance, longevity, and high reflectivity which reduces roof temperatures. Additionally, polypropylene is often considered one of the best environmental choices in plastics.
So that’s right, we’ve made more than one billion square feet of cool, reflective TPO roofing. It got me thinking about the rapid growth of this product line. We made our entry into the TPO business about the same time the LEED® rating system was introduced – around 2000. And as it happens, LEED just recently passed the one billion square foot threshold under certification, as well. I think you could say it is not just a coincidence—property owners seem to be looking for more environmentally friendly, energy efficient products. And if you look at the last ten years, certainly no one would say that 2008 or 2009 were great years for construction. Both the LEED rating system, and the cool roofing product, were compelling enough to grow even during those slower economic times, as interest in green building continues to grow.
Cool roofing is widely acknowledged to reduce energy consumption, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, using published energy usage calculators, the installation of one billion square feet of reflective TPO roofing - in place of conventional dark-colored roofing in air conditioned buildings - avoids the emission of approximately 280,000 Metric Tons of CO2, or the annual equivalent of taking about 27,000 cars off the road.
Given all these positive contributions, it seems likely that the TPO membrane roofing market will continue to grow. Cool roofing is making sense for more and more properties, driven in part by the adoption of LEED and the ‘greening’ of the building codes, butalso by an increasing understanding that a building’s roof can really be an asset, an asset which can do more than just keep you dry. A properly installed roofing system can also improve the building’s energy efficiency; increase durability; improve indoor air quality; and provide a home for renewable energy, in addition to larger benefits such as reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect. Of particular interest in this setting is our Extreme TPO product, which is formulated for the higher temperatures and increased foot traffic often found with solar installations.