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Roofing System Selection


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How to maximize your roofing budget and minimize your roofing costs.

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Roofing System Selection

  1. 1. by Joseph O. Sorrentino30 Mar 2012 Facilities!"#$%
  2. 2. T he last 35 years have brought sig- nificant change to roofing optionsavailable to building owners,property managers, and speci-fiers (architects/consultants/engineers). In the 1970s, approx-imately 95 percent of the newconstruction or reroofingoptions available to solve roof-ing problems were asphalt/coaltar pitch built up roofing (BUR)with gravel, smooth, or mineralsurface cap sheet systems. Therewere no workmanship warran-ties from the manufacturer.They were called Roof Bondsprior to the 1980s. Less than5 percent of the commercialroofing industry consisted of or extruded/expanded polystyrene widely accepted today. The roofingsingle ply, modified bitumen deck structure also shifted from concrete and wood to metal.or fluid-applied membrane As the U.S. economy entered the 1980s, the roofing industry wasroof systems. Building roof positioned for more significant changes in system design and warrantystructures and roofing systemswere significantly different indesign and construction prac-tice before the oil embargoof 1973. Energy consumptionbecame a heightened cost factorto deal with in the U.S. economyafter the oil embargo. With thischange came a significant devel-opment in roofing system designand purpose. The addition ofroofing insulation productsbecame a new growth area ofmanufacturing and inclusionin roofing specifications. Theearly generic types—woodfiber, perlite, and fiberglass—were less effective and havegiven way to the foam prod-ucts such as polyisocyanurate Facilities!"#$% Mar 2012 31
  3. 3. coverage. The commercial building market would explode into a performance of any roofing decade-long new construction boom unprecedented in U.S. history. The system selected and/or war- 1990s didn’t show much downturn for new construction and reroofing ranted. The construction legal industry projects. With the strong resistance by contractors to the new world will tell you that the concept of single ply systems, several manufacturers introduced some- warranty is a way for manu- thing that everyone specifying and purchasing low slope commercial facturers to limit their own lia- roofing systems was asking for—a warranty that covers the applicators bility. It still, however, keeps workmanship by the roofing manufacturer was introduced to the the roofing expenditure under building owner. This move quickly prompted asphalt built up roofing the terms and conditions of the manufacturers to include their roofing system and liability. warranty issued since it is held All of these factors combined with many others led to a significant by the manufacturer. The em- change in system selection over the next 30 years. Highly insulated, phasis of the building owner for a preventive maintenance plan creates a solid path to a sustain- able, low-cost roofing system. Many cool roofing alterna- tives today offer sustainable, highly energy efficient, and cost effective solutions. Selecting quality products, developing specific project specifications, and utilizing experienced/ trained applicators assures the building owner, property man- ager, and specifier of a project being done right the first time with attention to detail. Again, a critical area of selection is a sustainable roofing warranty system. There are a select few single ply, modified bitumen roofing systems, along with labor and manufacturers of fluid-applied material warranty coverage, became a significant market segment in roofing systems that have proven the low slope commercial roofing industry. The market today is divided performance and decades of almost equally between the three major choices—single ply, modified experience. This segment of bitumen, and asphalt built up roofing. Fluid-applied roofing systems the roofing industry is expected (FAR) still do not have a strong market share. They do have strong to grow due to the ease of in- advantages in the area of sustainability, energy efficiency (high reflec- stallation, maintenance, and cost. tivity and emissivity), and cost. For these reasons, many leading manu- In addition, the fluid-applied facturers of single ply, modified bitumen, and asphalt roofing systems systems offer the highest solar have added this type of selection for building owners, property managers, reflectance index (SRI). The EPA and specifiers. During a recent conference for the National Roofing Con- and Heat Island Effect Studies tractors Association, a poll of its members indicated a 50 percent in- illustrate the key advantages to crease in their purchases of coatings and fluid-applied roofing systems. fluid-applied roofing systems Today’s building owner, property manager, and specifier now face for our carbon footprint reduc- added pressure to make the right choice for a roofing renovation proj- tion. Energy Star publishes a ect. New issues, such as LEED points, Energy Star ratings, and green list of manufacturers for local initiatives, play a critical part of the process. We have now shifted from energy providers rebate pro- the old roof bond to the labor and material warranty being an issue grams. Federal and state rebate again. History has truly repeated itself. Roofing warranties are criticized programs can be found by but accepted by building owners, property managers, and specifiers, searching the location state just as the old roofing bonds were in the mid 1900s. Roof consultants site at The will tell you that you should not select a roofing system by the length Department of Energy has pro- of the warranty. A preventive maintenance plan is critical to long-term vided an updated roof savings32 Mar 2012 Facilities!"#$%
  4. 4. calculator for use by owners Many existing roofing systems are still in overall sound conditionto input their costs for energy with specific areas to mitigate and repair. Many roofs have numerousand HVAC efficiencies to flashing conditions, which increase the overall cost of several roofingdetermine an estimate for system options. When two roofs are in place, total removal of thesavings at roofing systems is normal practice, while many could qualify for a An understanding of the fluid-applied system due to the application process. With the properdifferences between paint, pro- evaluations and scope of work, the total roof cost can be minimizedtective maintenance coatings while applying a fully-adhered, fluid-applied system to the genericsystems, and fluid-applied roofing assembly already in place. Downtime and interruptions areroofing systems is very impor- kept to a minimum. Selecting the right process along with an experi-tant. Does my roof qualify for enced manufacturer and contractor team is the key to success. Qualitya fluid-applied roofing system? products, quality specifications (scope of work), and quality applica-This is an important question tors are part of the proven in place performance of these ask. There are significant cost The important questions today are on sustainability, energy savings,savings for fluid-applied roof- and, as always, cost. The continued pressure on rising costs for roofinging systems. This would allow systems makes the decision of system selection a critical step in the over-many overall roofing projects all renovation process. Make sure you ask the right questions of all ofto be considered for budgeting those involved in this critical area of your building assets. After all, with-and completion. The sooner out a sound roofing system, your facility’s building environment, pro-an existing roof is preserved tection from the elements, profitability, and real value are compromised.or restored with a sustainable Remember, ALL roofs do not qualify for fluid-applied roofing systems.fluid-applied roofing system, Joe Sorrentino is the General Manager of the Southern U.S. Divison ofthe less the initial, maintenance, Insultaing Coatings Corporation - ASTEC. He has served the commericaland renewable cost of this sus- roofing industry since 1977. For more information, you may contact him attainable roofing alternative. &! Facilities!"#$% Mar 2012 33