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Dan Markham

Dan Markham holds a journalism degree from Franklin College in Indiana and has been writing professionally for more than 20 years for various newspapers, magazines and books.

Maryland Chooses EPA-Approved De-Icer for its Roads

The state of Maryland is going green in its effort to get rid of the white stuff. The state became the first in the nation to purchase an all-natural road de-icing product, Ice B’Gone, to use in clearing snow and ice from roads during the winter season.

The product was chosen as part of the state’s Smart, Green & Growing initiative. That program brings together state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens to establish a number of environmental guidelines, including investment in green technologies and restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The state is one of the first to set environmental procurement standards and to uphold those standards by choosing a green road de-icer.

The makers of Ice B’Gone, Sears Ecological Applications Co., began research in 1997 that eventually developed into the product in 2001. For the past decade, the company has been hopeful the environmental de-icing technology would become mainstream, especially with its ability to also reduce overall costs, improve road safety and impede corrosion.

“It is much more effective at clearing roads while being less harmful to the environment than untreated chloride salt,” says David Wood, president of SEACO. “We’re excited to see Maryland take progressive steps to becoming an environmentally friendly state in all aspects of procurement.”

Ice B’Gone is the only road de-icer in the country to receive the EPA’s “Design for the Environment” designation, which indicates the product has undergone rigorous testing and has been proven to reduce risk to the environment. The product is all natural and formed from low-molecular-weight carbohydrates, which have shown to work much longer and at significantly lower temperatures than untreated rock salt. Because it works longer and at lower temperatures, Ice B’Gone can drastically reduce the amount of chloride salt used over the course of a winter. With less salt applied to roads, less salt finds its way into watersheds and runoff, thereby reducing the impact road de-icing can have on local water sources. Ice B’Gone also has proven a 70 percent reduction in corrosion to bridges, roadway surfaces, equipment and vehicles, saving governments additional costs in maintaining the roadway and maintenance equipment, according to the product’s developers.

SEACO’s technology has been adopted around the country, particularly in the Northeast, with successful results, but Maryland is one of the first states to purchase the product in a statewide bid for green road de-icers.

Cool Metal Roofs Reflect Heat, Save Energy

Homeowners in the market for a new roof have always had a reason to consider metal roofing for its environmental benefits. Now, they have even greater incentive to choose a steel or aluminum roofing product to protect their home.

Metal roofing has long been a green product. Metal roofs, for the most part, are produced from steel or aluminum that has already been recycled. They last far longer than asphalt shingles or similar products. And when the time finally comes when a metal roof must be replaced, the material is 100 percent recyclable.

Now, recent innovations in paint chemistries have made the coatings applied to metal coils before they are made into roofing panels even more environmentally friendly. Several years ago, chemical company BASF led the paint industry in the development of new pigments with additional heat-reflective properties.

“They reflect off a significant amount of the heat that comes from the sun,” explains William Hippard, president of the Metal Roofing Alliance. “You can save anywhere from 25 to 45 percent off your air conditioning bills in the summertime, because that’s how significant it is to lower the amount of heat that comes into your attic.”

The reflective properties of the new paints aren’t limited to lighter colors. Cool metal roofs reflect sunlight even in the darker shades. And the benefits are not lost during the colder months. An air pocket forms between the decking and the metal that acts as an insulator to keep heat in during the winter, Hippard says.

Metal roofing has been widely used in nonresidential construction, where builders of commercial and office space had already accepted the life-cycle cost advantages of the product even before cool coatings were introduced. But converting homebuilders and homeowners to the benefits of metal roofing—buyers for whom short-term costs and aesthetics play a bigger role in purchasing decisions–has been a tougher sell. But progress has been made on both those fronts. The opportunities available for prepainted metal roofs go well beyond a simple array of colors.

“If you like Cedar Shakes, you can get a metal roof that looks like Cedar Shakes. If you like clay tile, you can get one that looks that way, or one that looks like asphalt shingles,” says Hippard.

Historically, converting residential buyers has been hampered by the upfront costs of metal roofs, which are about 40-60 percent higher than traditional roofing materials. But some of those short-term cost hurdles have been mitigated through a $1,500 tax rebate to homeowners who put a cool metal roof on their residences.


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