Chicago Roof Installation and Repair Buying Guide
The process of installing a new roof involves many decisions—no matter where in the country you are located. But when you live a city like Chicago, with one of the most detailed green building initiatives in the country, there are many more factors to consider before beginning work on your roof. Each decision you make along the way will be influenced by your location in the City of Chicago. Before purchasing products, you will need to be sure they are appropriate for the climate and comply with the green building codes in place.
This Chicago roof buying guide outlines the information you need to know about the green roofs and cool roofs that have become the norm in Chicago roof replacement. It also review the permit and licensing requirements put in place by the city and explores a variety of financing options available to homeowners who are making energy efficient improvements to their roof.
Knowing When to Replace Your Roof in Chicago
Homeowners can expect a roof that was built by an expert using high quality materials to last approximately 20 years. If you roof is any older than 25 years, it is definitely time to make plans to completely replace your roof. While some roofing issues, such as leaks, buckling, and curling or missing shingles, may only require a repair, these problems can often be serious enough to warrant the installation of a brand new roof.
Roof Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Chicago
Over 70% of the greenhouse gases in Chicago are the result of the energy being used by buildings in the city, according to Sustainable Chicago. Knowing this, Chicago has been promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy in residential and commercial buildings throughout the city over the last 15 years.
Although the city’s efforts have been focused on a wide variety of remodeling and new building projects, roofs have received a lot of attention since 2001. The City of Chicago believes that cool roofs and green roofs will play a significant role in reducing the greenhouse gases produced in the city. Because of this, the city currently requires all new or replacement flat or nearly flat roofs to be cool roofs, complying with the U.S. EPA Energy Star Cool Roof guidelines.
Cool roofs use materials that are able to reflect much of the solar radiation that comes into contact with the roof. An estimated 80% of solar heat is reflected by reflective paint, sheet covering, and tiles or shingles compared to the 20% normally reflected by conventional roofing products. When cool roofing products are used, the surface of the roof is 50% cooler than roofs using conventional roofing materials. This drop in the temperature of the surface of the roof results in a several degree drop of the temperature in the home.
Since the city of Chicago currently requires flat or nearly flat roofs to comply with ENERGY STAR® Cool Roof guidelines, it is helpful understand what these guidelines are. If a manufacturer of roofing products wants to place an ENERGY STAR® label on their products, they must also comply with these guidelines. The solar radiation index represents how much solar heat is reflected by a roof and ENERGY STAR® requires low-slope roofs to have a solar reflectance index of no less than 0.65 and steep-slope roofs to have a solar reflectance index of no less than 0.25.
Cool roofs have become the standard in Chicago new construction and roof placement because of the impressive benefits they provide. These roofs have been found to make homes more energy efficient, reducing what is spent on heating and cooling the home. Local air temperatures surrounding the building are also reduced, improving the wellbeing of the environment.
Although the city does not currently require homeowners, owners of community residential buildings, or owners of commercial buildings to have green roofs, many residents are using green roofs as a means of lowering their heating and cooling costs and improving the energy efficiency of their home. Green roofs have rooftop gardens and offer a wide variety of environmental benefits. Vegetation located on roofs provides insulation, decreasing the temperature of the surface of the roof and the air temperature surrounding the roof. These roofs also lengthen the life of the roof by providing additional protection to the surface of the roof.
About Retrofit Chicago
Chicago’s Retrofit Chicago Residential Partnership program enables homeowners to connect with a wide variety of energy efficiency resources. Once an apartment dweller or homeowner has applied to the program, they will be connected with free or discounted energy efficiency products, product rebate information, and a database of manufacturers who produce energy efficient building supplies.
To learn more about Retrofit Chicago and the services they provided to Chicago residents, visit their website.
Chicago Roofing Permit and Licensing Requirements
Because of their devotion to improving the environment, the city gives priority to contractors and homeowners planning green improvements to buildings in the city. The Green Permit Benefit Tier Program offers qualifying projects a faster application process and reduced permit fees. In order to qualify for this program, both residential and commercial building projects must earn a LEED or Green Globes certification. To learn more about obtaining a green permit, or to move forward with the application process, visit the Chicago Building Department website.
Before hiring a contractor to replace your roof, it is important ensure they are properly licensed and insured. The City of Chicago requires contractors who are performing major home improvements to have a general builder’s license through the Chicago Building Department. Contractors with employees should also carry workers’ compensation insurance that will cover the cost of medical expenses or missed work if one of their employees is injured while working on a roof.
Chicago Cool Roofs Grant Program
In order to encourage more home and building owners to make the switch to a cool roof, the City of Chicago makes grants available to qualifying cool roofing projects. These grants are limited, and are only offered to roofs that meet ENERGY STAR® cool roof guidelines. If a low-slope residential roof has a solar reflectance rating of 0.65 or more, the Chicago Cool Roofs Grant Program offers a rebate of $0.50 per square foot. Medium to steep slope residential roofs with a solar reflectance rating of 0.25 or more are also offered a rebate of $0.50 per square foot.
Maintaining the Life of Your Roof in Chicago
Even though most roofs can be expected to remain energy efficient for a minimum of 15 years, they must be properly cared for through regular preventative maintenance. The key to extending the life of a roof is to perform regularly inspections at least twice a year. When inspecting your roof, you are checking for anything that may need repair including leaks, pooling water, and missing shingles, and checking for debris that needs to be removed. When Chicago experiences extreme weather, you should perform additional inspections to check for damage or debris.
When you choose to invest in a roof that meets ENERGY STAR® Cool Roof guidelines, you can expect your heating and cooling expenses to reduce significantly. If you choose to sell your home in the future, you will also recoup up to 80% of your initial roof installation costs.