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Posted by McElroy Metal ● Jun 4, 2024 8:00 AM

How Metal Roofing and Solar Make the Perfect Partner for Data Centers

How Metal Roofing and Solar Make the Perfect Partner for Data Centers

In the digital era, data centers are an increasingly critical and increasingly energy-hungry component of operational infrastructure. Globally, 10,978 data centers will soon hold 50% of the world’s total data and account for just over 2% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Thus, balancing durability with environmental impact is necessary when choosing construction materials for data centers. Metal roofing stands out for its long life and solar compatibility — making it a leading sustainable solution.

blog.mcelroymetal.comhs-fshubfsSolar Panels 2Coupled with solar technology, metal roofing provides an innovative approach to energy savings and disaster preparedness in data center construction. This guide explores the partnership between metal roofing and solar technology in data center construction. 

Metal Roofing for Durability and Life Expectancy

Metal roofing represents a significant advancement in data center construction, offering durability for long-term operational requirements. With a life expectancy that exceeds traditional roofing materials — typically ranging from 50 to 60 years — metal roofing matches the 30+ year lifespans of many solar technologies.  Mismatched life cycle expectancies between roofing and solar products can lead to tear-off of a well-functioning solar array to replace a worn-out roof under the solar system. 

In contrast, other common roofing materials such as EPDM and thermoplastic solutions fall far short of the 50-60 life expectancy of metal roofing and instead routinely offer a mere 20-year service life. Roof replacement frequency is a concern for any building owner; however, when considering the negative implications of service disruptions and equipment sensitivity for Data Center projects, it becomes critical to select roofing materials with the longest life expectancy and lowest maintenance. Metal roofing wins this contest hands down. 

Energy Efficiency and Roof Reflectance

Metal roofing has high solar reflectance that effectively redirects UV light and minimizes heat absorption. This characteristic is particularly beneficial for data center constructions as it reduces a building’s thermal load and eases demand on cooling systems. Lower cooling requirements translate into substantial energy savings over the life of a structure. By enhancing energy efficiency, reflective metal roofs reduce operational costs and improve sustainability in data centers.

Disaster Preparation

Metal roofs excel in adverse conditions and safeguard data centers against extreme events. Metal roofing:

  • Performs well in high winds, withstanding wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour — equivalent to an F2 tornado
  • Withstands hailstones as large as 2.5 inches in diameter without compromising protective surfaces or facility operations
  • Offers a Class A fire rating and minimizes the spread of flames.

These characteristics give data centers with metal roofing higher margins of guaranteed uptime and greater resilience against disasters and unforeseen events. 

Metal Roofing and Solar Tech

Integrating solar panels with metal roofing offers several benefits, including:

  • Labor savings through rail-less attachment methods
  • Reduction in component requirements by 75% compared to traditional installations
  • Cuts in shipping costs​​ by 60%

Additionally, metal roofs outlast most solar panel systems. This eliminates the need for a roof replacement during the lifespan of the solar array, improving the lifetime ROI of the entire system. The low profile and uniform color of thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels make them suitable for metal roofs and appealing to needs for streamlined building-integrated applications. Moreover, installing solar panels on metal roofs doesn’t require penetration, mitigating the risk of leaks and their accompanying electrical hazards. Conversely, most other roofing systems require penetration of the roofing system to attach solar technologies.

With global data center energy consumption set to double by 2030 — in conjunction with demand spreading into more challenging environments — the combination of metal roofing and solar tech is poised to ease the transition in terms of performance and sustainability.  

McElroy Metal for Data Center Construction

If you are considering metal roofing for your data center and would like to integrate solar technology for enhanced sustainability and efficiency, McElroy Metal offers a comprehensive range of solutions along with expert advice tailored to your project needs.

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About McElroy Metal

Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The employee-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 14 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.

Topics: Metal Roofing, Solar

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