PTOs: New to the Roofing Market?

Be careful what you read! Are PTOs a new competitor in the roofing market? No, it’s an acronym with some misplaced letters from the title of a poorly written magazine article. So much marketing misinformation gets presented as fact that it’s a wonder anyone can make an informed roofing decision. Following is some information that may help in assessing the credibility of statements made about roofing.

PVC roofing is made from two basic components: fossil fuel and salt. Fossil fuel is converted to ethylene and rock salt goes through electrolysis to retrieve chlorine – one of the most abundant elements on earth. These components are combined to produce the vinyl chloride monomer which is used with other components to create PVC membrane.

Europe was early to adopt PVC roofing as a single-ply system of choice. Contrary to some claims, PVC roofing is being sold throughout Europe and in fact enjoys by far the largest market share of any of the thermoplastic single-plies.

ENERGY STAR®, the Cool Roof Rating Council, Green Globes, and the U.S. Green Building Council, among other organizations, have developed programs to help specifiers and consumers make informed roofing decisions. The USGBC developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Rating System several years ago. LEED aids in the design and construction of buildings that minimize negative impacts on occupants and the environment

PVC membranes offer a host of relevant benefits:

  • White PVC membranes are among the most reflective on the market. The Duro-Last Cool Zone® membrane’s Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) of over 110 exceeds LEED requirements for Sustainable Sites Credit 7.2.
  • Recyclability is also a key element of many green design programs, and unlike other roofing materials, there are well-established programs for recycling PVC roofing membrane, including one offered by Duro-Last.
  • Because of its chlorine component, PVC is inherently flame resistant, unlike many other roofing products with higher carbon content. This makes fire ratings easier to achieve, and means that PVC roofing in general is less likely to emit toxic gases than other materials in building fires.
  • PVC membranes are highly flexible and can be custom-prefabricated before reaching the rooftop for installation. This reduces rooftop labor by minimizing jobsite welding by contractors. In addition, seam integrity is more reliable than for stiffer membranes that are made from materials other than PVC.

So, when evaluating systems for your next commercial roofing project, you may want to ask yourself “Why go with the PTO?” Check the facts; don’t be misled by misinformation, and make an informed decision.

Reroof? Recycle!

Today is Earth Day and for building owners who are interested in “green” construction issues, the fact that old PVC roof membranes can be recycled may help improve your sales opportunities.

Unlike TPO, built-up, modified bitumen, and EPDM roofing systems, recycling programs for PVC roofing products have been in place for many years. The other types of roofing systems are much more likely to end up in a landfill once their rooftop service is complete.

Duro-Last established our “Recycle Your Roof” program for old PVC membranes in 2005. Material that we obtain from torn-off roofs is typically sent to Oscoda Plastics, Inc. in Oscoda, Michigan, which produces commercial flooring and expansion joints.

Details of the program, including our “Recycle Your Roof” request form, are available in Duro-Last Technical Bulletin #133, which can be downloaded here.

Here’s what the Tech Bulletin has to say about preparing the old roof for recycling:

Roofs and roofing materials that are broomed on the top and bottom surfaces may be considered for the Duro-Last Roof Recycling Program.

  1. The top and bottom surface of the Duro-Last material must be free of stones, debris, fasteners, asphalt, coal tar pitch, and any foreign substances that may be attached or adhered to the material.
  2. After brooming, cut the material free from the roof deck along both sides of the fastening tabs and all penetrations. Discard any heavily soiled or contaminated material. All returning material must be cut into 5 ft. x 5 ft. sections (or smaller), neatly stacked on a pallet and banded for shipping. Fastening tabs and fasteners must not be included in the recycle material.
  3. The completed “Recycle Your Roof” form must be faxed or mailed to Duro-Last one week prior to the material being shipped.

Tip: Use a hook blade with a long handle to cut along fastening tabs.

The contractor pays for shipping to the closest Duro-Last manufacturing plant.

Duro-Last Welcomes Another Little Roofer to the Business!

Duro-Last is excited to announce the birth of Lauren Elizabeth Gerhardt to our chief blog editor and publisher, Tara Gerhardt and her husband, Duro-Last HR Recruiter, Matthew. Lauren, the couple’s first child, was born on Friday, April 8 at 11:48 pm, weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces and measuring 18.75 inches in length.

We will attempt to measure up to Tara’s blogging prowess over the next several weeks as she and Lauren become acquainted at home.

Congratulations Tara, Matt, and Lauren!

Flooded With Sunlight: Reducing Urban Heat Islands with Cool Roofing

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a big proponent of cool roofing. In his July 2010 announcement, Chu made it clear that he was going to push for the installation of cool roofing systems on all federal buildings to help reduce energy usage. Secretary Chu is well-informed about cool roofing because he was formerly the head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL), the entity that pioneered the study of Urban Heat Islands (UHIs).

Not only will cool roofing reduce building energy usage, it will also help mitigate the UHI effect. The UHI effect is the tendency for urban areas to be hotter than surrounding areas. LBNL found that the average temperature on a hot summer day will be seven degrees warmer in North American urban areas than surrounding rural areas. During an extended heat wave the difference can be even more pronounced. Studies have shown that there are three primary factors that cause the majority of the UHI effect.


The first factor is that urban areas have less vegetation than rural areas. Not only do trees and shrubs provide shade, but thriving vegetation keeps itself cool through a process called evapotranspiration. Similar to how the human body sweats to keep itself cool, vegetation releases moisture to stay cool. About 56%, or almost four degrees, of the seven degree difference is due to less vegetation in urban areas than rural.

Dark Pavement

Many might think that dark pavement would account for much of the UHI effect. While walking down a city street, one can feel the heat radiating up. But dark pavement accounts for only 6%, or less than one-half degree, of the seven degree difference.

Dark Roofing

Roofing takes up a lot of surface area in urban areas, but roofing is not often considered a source of urban heat because it is “out of sight, out of mind.” Yet dark roofing accounts for 38%, or almost three degrees, of the seven degree difference associated with UHIs.

Many cities have attempted to increase green space and vegetation through civic programs and building codes, but for every tree planted or park developed there is much more green space that succumbs to urban sprawl. Green space initiatives are at best a long term means of mitigating UHIs and can entail significant expense.

Paving products made from lighter colored materials are available, but implementing these measures is capital intensive and can take years to accomplish. And considering the relatively minor role that paving plays in UHIs, there are options that provide more bang for the buck.

Installation of cool roofing during initial construction or when re-roofing offers immediate benefits, not only toward mitigation of UHIs but to the building owner in the form of energy savings. A good roofing system is essential for protecting any building from the elements. Selecting and installing a cool roofing system is easy to accomplish, inexpensive relative to other UHI mitigation efforts, and provides benefits immediately.

Even in northern geographic areas where net energy savings may be minimal, cool roofing systems offer significant benefits that may be less tangible but are essential to the long term performance and durability of the roof, insulation and HVAC equipment.

JRB Continuous Improvement Award

Over the last 12 months or so, Duro-Last and our sister companies that make up JRB Enterprises have been working toward becoming “lean” throughout all companies. Over 200 employees attended the initial Lean 101 training at Delta College in Saginaw, Michigan, where they were presented with the concept of “principles” and their importance to the organization. All participants were asked, “What are the principles of JRB?” Their ideas were distilled down to the following ten:

1. A culture of open communication, integrity, innovation, respect, involvement, support, equality, and trust.

2. Customer service that is on-time, high quality, and committed to satisfaction for all customers, both internal and external.

3. A commitment to:

  • 100% first-time quality;
  • The identification and elimination of waste;
  • Root cause problem resolution; and
  • Continuous improvement.

4. Base decisions on long-term focus, while maintaining the health of the business.

5. We are a process focused business.

6. Empower leaders at all levels to provide mentoring, coaching, training, and support to help everyone in the process.

7. Immediately correct all problems.

8. Make decisions by considering all options, then implement rapidly.

9. Support continuing education, learning, and self-improvement.

10. Develop, support, and recognize an individual’s pride in workmanship.

Since the initial training began, it became apparent that all employees should be educated about lean practices and principles. Training is now in full swing and there have been several “success” stories throughout all of the companies.

The JRB Lean Committee, made up of 29 employees representing all companies, recently announced a quarterly award – the JRB Continuous Improvement Award – that recognizes a work group with a completed lean implementation that has produced a significant gain for JRB. Improvements and achievements are evaluated and voted on by the JRB Lean Committee.

The Duro-Last Accessories department in Saginaw was recently presented with the inaugural JRB Continuous Improvement Award. The department has undergone a complete transformation throughout the past year; reducing process waste and implementing lean initiatives which has improved the overall department performance along with a higher output productivity rate of +16.4% in just the last three months. The department is focused on continuous improvement and is currently implementing additional lean initiatives to further reduce overall lead time, increase productivity, and sustain high quality.

Congratulations to the Duro-Last Saginaw Accessories Department for your implementation of lean and dedication to continuous improvement.

Duro-Last Saginaw, Michigan Accessories Department