Surveying A Flat Roof: The Environmental Impact

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Our series on surveying a flat roof concludes with exploring the environmental impact you should consider during your survey.


The Environmental Impact Of Flat Roof Renewal

To strip or not to strip a flat roof?

The greatest environmental impact of roof renewal is very often from the disposal of the existing roof coverings. Therefore, one should carefully consider the necessity and benefits of doing so.

If they can be left in place and incorporated into the new system, it will also provide a cost saving, especially if any existing insulation reduces the amount required in the new system. Another benefit is all those additional layers of waterproof protection.

A stitch in time!

The longer roofs are left to deteriorate, the less likely it is that the existing waterproofing will be suitable for overlaying, and subsequently the greater the risk of damage to the roof deck and structure – both of which will have a negative environmental and cost impact.

High quality flat roof materials are cleaner and cheaper!

If longer lasting roofing systems are used, they will have to be replaced less frequently during the building’s lifetime, therefore lowering both environmental impact and cost. Longer lasting systems generally offer much better value for money over the system’s lifetime (not the guarantee period – these are not the same).

Reduce your client’s carbon emissions and save them money!

Improving the thermal performance of the building by introducing additional insulation will reduce its carbon emissions and save money.

Access over trafficked areas of a flat roofing system

All flat roofing systems require protection if regular access is required across them, especially if they are to be used as terraces or balconies. There is less protection necessary for flat roofs with only an occasional need for access.  Additional factors to be considered where access is required are the provision of edge protection and the risk of slipping on the finished surface; the latter is particularly the case with single ply and cold liquid applied membranes, and with all systems in wet and icy conditions. However, these issues are dealt with relatively easily.

Long term maintenance of flat roofs

To achieve their optimum life expectancy, it is important that flat roofs are maintained. A small maintenance budget can increase the life expectancy of the roof and reduce the risk of premature failure and flooding.

Future-proofing your flat roof

Solar Panels (PV) on flat roofs– it could mean a free roof!

Property owners are fast recognising that their roofs are a resource capable of generating attractive income streams as well as helping to offset energy costs.

Returns can be surprisingly quick, especially for commercial properties housing energy-intensive businesses. Once the installation cost of the solar system has been paid back, the savings in energy costs can quickly start paying off the cost of the new roof as well; heavy power users can quickly be in profit.

We have additional resources on the benefits of solar which can be viewed here and here.

Green roofs and recreation

For the greatest environmental impacts, as well as surprising cost benefits, consider installing a green roof, perhaps as part of a recreation or educational facility. Green roofs are a sustainable solution which are growing in popularity, particularly in urban areas. Further articles on green roofs can be found here and here.

We hope that you will have found this series of articles on surveying a flat roof useful. Should you require further advise, or a due to put a project to tender, Maguire Brothers would be delighted to assist.



This article, as with all other articles we produce, is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute formal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For bespoke, unbiased advice relating to your commercial roofing project please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.

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