Author: Vincent McPartland, Strategic Accounts Manager

Retailers of all kinds—food, mass merchants, specialty and others—have unique requirements for their roofing systems. Millions of dollars of merchandise and other perishables are at risk, along with the safety and comfort of customers and employees.

Retail chains can be responsible for a large number of buildings, located in far-ranging regions and subject to varying climates and weather conditions. As a result, retailers require a versatile roofing system that will perform at a high level for an extended period of time while helping to combat operating expenditures.

To meet these demands, leading organizations like Staples, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, and 7-Eleven have developed company-wide sustainability plans and energy-green visions that include high performance reflective vinyl roofing systems – systems that are energy-efficient, durable and recyclable.

Why Cool is Hot
White reflective roof membranes have been proven to save building owners thousands of dollars annually on energy costs. Roofing materials that reflect the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere have lower surface temperatures and radiate less heat into the building. The result is less energy is needed to keep air-conditioned spaces below them cool.

Whole Foods, the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, has installed over a million feet of energy-efficient, recyclable, “cool roofs” as part of the company’s roof management program and larger Whole Foods commitment to reducing energy consumption.

The EnergySmart Roof System used by Whole Foods includes vinyl membrane that has been proven to reduce roof temperatures by up to 70 degrees and decrease air conditioning consumption by up to 20 percent.

At Brookshire Grocery, keeping the temperature cool inside is vital for the preparation of ice cream, baked goods and cut fruit.

“Before this roof we had a hot-tar and gravel roof, which absorbed the Texas heat,” said Ken Reeves, Facility Maintenance Technician at Brookshire Grocery Company. “We used to run 36 intake and exhaust fans – but since the vinyl roof was installed we haven’t needed them at all.”

He added that even in areas that are not air-conditioned, the building stays very comfortable. [call out] Use the Energy / CO2 Calculator at and see how much your budget and the environment could benefit from an energy efficient, cool roof.

Durability Counts
Roofing materials, whether cool or not, should have a proven track record of durability. It’s important not to forget that the primary purpose of any roof is to protect the structure it covers from the elements. Roof assemblies must be properly designed, incorporating vapor retarders or barriers as required, with multiple layers of insulation, appropriate fastening technology, etc. Cool energy savings should not be used as a basis for “value engineering” shortcuts in a roof’s design or construction.

Reeves has been maintaining the 500,000 square foot vinyl membrane roof on the Brookshire Grocery’s Southwest Foods division warehouse and manufacturing facility in Tyler, TX since the day it was installed in 1980. Even though the Brookshire roof is over 30 years old and sustains extreme Texas heat and humidity, it was shown in recent testing to continue to offer exceptional performance.

An independent analysis of roof membranes by the British Board of Agrément found, “…all available evidence suggests that the durability of Sarnafil membranes, when used in accordance with the relevant BBA certificates, should have a life in excess of 35 years.”

Pay it Forward
Many retailers, including Target, have goals to minimize waste with aggressive programs to recycle and repurpose waste at retail facilities.

Roof recycling efforts fit perfectly in extending that stewardship and vinyl “cool” roofing not only outlasts most competitive membranes, it can be recycled when it finally reaches the end of its useful life.

The industry-leading Vinyl Roof Recycling Program from Sika Sarnafil has recycled more than 25 million pounds of pre- and post-consumer vinyl roofing since the program’s inception a decade ago.

More than 15 billion square feet of vinyl membrane protects retail facilities, schools, libraries, hospitals and government buildings around the world. The systems are proven performers with a 45-year history and membranes that continue to perform after decades of use in a wide range of climates – conserving natural resources while reducing the demands on landfills.

This history of proven performance assures retail building owners of one of the longest-lasting roofing systems available.

Author: Vincent McPartland, Strategic Accounts Manager