Did you know that your roof has an immediate and direct impact on your heating and cooling costs? Well, it’s very true. Your roof works to deflect invading heat and UV energy from the sun, as well as providing a seal to keep cooler or warmer air inside. Choosing the right roof can be a make or break thing, especially in commercial settings where you have to maintain certain climatic conditions without compromise.
This is especially true in the tech industry, with something like a data center. If you don’t make smart choices with your roofing on a data center, you’re going to burn so much money trying to keep the place cooled, that the whole enterprise will become unprofitable in most cases. Today, let’s take a moment to talk about rooting for a data center, why it matters, and what kind of choices contribute best to overcome the many obstacles.
Data Centers and Heat
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you already understand why heat is such an issue with something like this, to begin with. But, for the sake of being thorough, let’s touch on it. Computers generate heat because the electricity sent through circuits sheds its energy as waste heat. Every circuit in the world does this, be it a simple electrical wire in a house, or a complex logic board in a server, PC or mobile device.
This means that you’re already contending with a lot, and we do mean a lot of waste heat coming out of the data center to begin with. Factoring in that the cooler a computer is, the faster it works, and you can have a real problem, if your roof isn’t preventing additional heat from getting in, and isn’t striving to keep your cooler air contained.
When you consider that a data center consists of many cabinets each containing many of these logic boards, all of which are essentially low-level space heaters, and you can see where this is going, pretty clearly!
Solar Energy and your Roof
As we said in the beginning, your roof is basically your one and only line of defense between your interior and the sun. If the roof isn’t designed the right way, this is troublesome. The thing is, while the sun is crucial to all life on this planet, it’s a giant nuclear reaction. It’s putting out tremendous energy in the form of visible and invisible light (such as UV and Infrared).
With something like asphalt roofing, it tends to absorb this energy, and then radiate it into the cool of the night, some of it being temporarily trapped in attic spaces. This is fine in many cases. For a data center, though, this doesn’t work that well. Trapping heat, even temporarily like this, can cause a runaway effect, or strain your air conditioning system unduly.
Obviously, the solution is to build a roof that doesn’t absorb or conduct this heat. This is where white roofing materials come into play. You won’t see these used in residential settings very often, where some heat absorption is always necessary, but for commercial tech solutions, they can be a real lifesaver.
White materials actually are white because they deflect all visible (and usually invisible) light. Anyone who’s ever compared wearing a black shirt in the sunny summer heat, versus a white alternative, has experienced the difference this kind of deflection can actually provide.
White roofing materials are abundant in variety and method of application, some of them being truly space-age materials. Of course, this is all for naught if you don’t also have proper insulation, seals and ventilation to allow your building to breathe. Most of this also falls on your roof to provide, as this is where most heat outlets and air intakes are, with most buildings.
This approach does not eliminate the heat problem produced by the data center itself, of course. You still need to provide artificial cooling on the devices themselves, as well as powerful air circulation and air conditioning. The big difference with a well-designed white commercial roof is that it’s only working to combat the heat your devices generate, rather than also contending with the oppressive heat of the sun. The difference is tremendous, especially on a financial level.
To learn more about choosing the right roof for climate and commercial applications, fill out our contact form today.