Is your staff beginning to get frustrated by the myriad of calls coming from your tenants about the building’s internal climate during the summer? Are they complaining that the building is too hot, and then too cold when the AC is used to combat the heat? Do you feel like your building’s temperature is never just right? Then your building might be what some call a “heat island.”
Many property owners and property managers don’t know that buildings in a more urban setting will tend to fall into the category of a heat island, unless you have taken steps to mitigate this effect.
Heat Island Effect
Heat islands are areas of higher temperature than the surrounding air temperature due to largely impermeable surfaces on or around the building. This rise in temperature is due to the inability of heat to absorb into permeable surfaces such as soil, water and trees found in more rural areas. This means the air temperature is higher, leading to greater efforts to cool your building.
The heat island effect plays a major role in the comfort and even health of your tenants. Heightened air temperature will lead tenants to consume more energy in an attempt to cool their units. If your building is located in a geographic area of great temperature spikes during summer months, your tenants might even suffer non-fatal heat strokes because of this effect.
Concrete’s Roll in Heat Island Effect Mitigation
Darker surfaces tend to absorb more heat than lighter surfaces; therefore concrete will produce the least amount of atmospheric temperature. In Reducing Urban Heat Islands by the EPA they state that “On a hot, sunny summer day, the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, like roofs and pavement, to temperatures of 50 to 90°F (27 to 50°C) hotter than the air, while shaded or moist surfaces – often in more rural surroundings – remain close to air temperatures.”
Concrete that is high in Albedo has the greatest ability to reflect the rays of the sun and reduce the amount of heat that is absorbed, thus allowing ambient heat to be significantly lower. The EPA recommends light colored concrete as one of their strategies to lower the heat island effect. Other strategies include:
• Increasing tree and vegetative cover
• Creating green roofs (also called “rooftop gardens” or “eco-roofs”)
• Installing cool – mainly reflective – roofs
• Using cool pavements
Finding The Right Solutions
What strategy would be best for your building if you want to reduce the heat island effect and reduce energy costs? Here are three areas to focus on:
1. Paved areas that could be replaced with light colored, high Albedo concrete. This would include parking lots, poolside areas and patios.
2. Another important place to focus is on cool roofing. By utilizing reflective roofing materials you can greatly reduce the amount of heat that makes it into the building, thus lowering unit temperature and cooling costs.
3. Lastly, if you have asphalt areas that you do not plan on replacing with concrete, focus on planting vegetation that can shade these areas and thereby reduce the amount of sunlight causing heat to be absorbed and increasing the ambient air temperature.
If you are tired of complaints from tenants about your building’s increased temperature in the summer, and think you are experiencing the heat island effect, give Regal Commercial Services a call. We’d love to help not only you, but your tenants have a cooler, safer summer.