Arrowwood co-op brings energy-efficient roofing material to Michigan
An energy-saving roofing product is migrating to Michigan from southern markets, promising greater efficiency in cooling attics and entire residential units.
Arrowwood Hills Cooperative housing development off Pontiac Trail in Ann Arbor is installing about 25,000-square-feet of oriented strand board with “radiant barrier sheathing” - which is essentially board lined with a thin layer of aluminum that reflects heat from the sun.
Dave Friedrichs, chief operating officer of Meadow Management and the property manager for Arrowwood, said the roofing could save residents between 10 percent and 15 percent off their cooling bills in the summer.
“We’re motivated to do it because it results in savings for coop homeowners,” Friedrichs said.
The coop is using Thermastrand, a product of Vancouver, B.C.-based Ainsworth Engineered.
Several other companies produce similar boards, including Georgia Pacific under the brand Thermostat and LP Building Products’ TechShield.
But Friedrichs and Jack Emmer, a wood product salesman with Viking Forest in Minneapolis who sold Friedrichs the Thermastrand, said radiant barrier products have not caught on in northern climates. That’s because reflecting heat from roofs saves the most energy in hot, sunny climates in which cooling living spaces is a year-round necessity.
“It’s really a southern product,” Emmer said. “It was promoted heavily in the south. Just in the last 14 to 16 months have people become more aware in the Midwest area.”
Emmer said the Arrowwood installation is the first truckload of such a product he’s sold in Michigan. And Friedrichs said he thought the project was the first one to use radiant barrier roofing board in the county, based on conversation with other contractors.
Thermastrand’s main selling point is that the aluminum is essentially manufactured into the board, so that it is virtually impossible to separate. Emmer said other products, in which the foil is affixed or laminated to the wood, run the risk of creating wrinkles and, therefore, become less efficient.
Ainsworth’s marketing material says the product can lower cooling bills by up to 25 percent, but Friedrichs predicted a lower number because of the Michigan climate. He said the radiant barrier OSB also saves heating costs in the winter because it keeps heat in.
The radiant barrier board costs about $9 per 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet, or about $2 more than regular OSB.
“That’s not too bad,” Friedrichs said. “It’s a consideration.”
The purchase was approved by the coop’s board, he added.
Juan Montalvo, board president for the past 15 years, said the decision was based on a simple equation - pay a little more now in exchange for future savings.
“The rising costs of utilities are a fear for us. We figured it was best now to maybe spend a few extra dollars and get savings in the long run,” he said. “Any way we can save money and help our members, that’s our duty and obligation as the board.”
Montalvo said the board would track members’ energy usage in the units with the new roofing material, and may install another phase next year. He also said he hopes the radiant barrier boards would also save energy costs in the winter, although he’s not sure that will happen.
“That’s why we’re tracking it very closely,” he said.
Reporter Dan Meisler can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo by Robert Ramey: Pedro Lopez, left, and David Friedrich install Thermastrand OSB at the Arrowwood Hills Cooperative.