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The Role of Roofing in Climate Change Solutions

The roofing industry can play a leading role in developing innovative solutions to climate change and energy-related issues. With residential and commercial buildings accounting for 30-40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions, providing incentives for building owners to adopt energy-efficient and energy-generating roofing systems will greatly improve energy conservation and help reduce carbon emissions from the "built environment."

Current trends toward the adoption of "green" buildings are key drivers of economic growth in our industry. NRCA contractor, manufacturer and distributor members are in the forefront of developing and installing energy-efficient technologies that are already reducing carbon emissions and providing other environmental benefits. These include vegetative roofs that integrate plants to reduce greenhouse gases and stormwater runoff; "cool" roofs that reduce energy consumption and the "urban heat island" effect; and daylighting systems that maximize natural light to reduce interior lighting requirements. Additionally, roof surfaces across the nation offer an economical and ready-to-use platform for the production of clean, renewable energy using solar and wind sources.

NRCA supports market-based solutions and incentives to address climate change and welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress to maximize the impact of energy-efficient and energy-producing roof systems to help reduce carbon emissions. NRCA urges Congress to pass the Green Roofing Energy Efficiency Tax Act (H.R. 426), which would accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient roofs in commercial buildings by providing a realistic depreciation schedule for roofs that meet a benchmark energy-efficiency standard. NRCA also supports the Energy Efficient Commercial Roofs Act (H.R. 2615), which provides a new 30 percent tax credit for roofs installed on commercial buildings that achieve an energy-efficiency standard that is 75 percent more stringent then existing state and local building codes.

NRCA supports legislation to reduce carbon emissions that balances environmental objectives with the need to sustain economic growth and job creation, especially at a time when unemployment in the construction industry is at 16.5 percent. NRCA opposes the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) approved by the House because of concerns over the potential impact of a cap-and-trade system on the construction industry and the U.S. economy. According to analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, H.R. 2454 would establish 397 new regulations and 1,060 new government mandates. Another study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce estimates the bill would result in reductions in gross domestic product of $170 billion in 2015, $350 billion in 2030 and $730 billion in 2050, which would be devastating to the U.S. economy. Additionally, the bill's provision to accelerate energy-efficiency standards through a national building code may not be practical and could cause serious disruption in the construction industry.

NRCA will continue working with Congress and the administration to craft climate change legislation that promotes the adoption of energy-efficient and energy-producing roofing to help reduce carbon emissions while balancing environmental objectives with economic and job creation needs. Please contact Duane Musser, NRCA's vice president of government relations, at (202) 546-7584 or dmusser@nrca.net for more information.

(November 2009)

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