The Green Schoolhouse Series

Between 1950 and 2000, there was an unprecedented student population boom and school districts erected thousands of portable classrooms.

There are now more than 300,000 trailer-like portables in use at K-12 schools across the nation, many of which have been in place for 30 to 40 years. They have served well beyond their expected lifespan.

Funded entirely through corporate partnerships, in-kind donations, and charitable contributions, the Green Schoolhouse Series is a unique collaboration bringing together corporations, foundations, school districts, municipalities, communities, media outlets, and volunteers to build high-performance, environmentally sustainable, LEED-Platinum designed Green Schoolhouses at Title 1, low-income public schools. Every Green Schoolhouse replaces four to ten aging portables with a permanent, multipurpose facility, ranging in size from 6,000 to 15,000 square feet.

Duro-Last is proud to be a partner with the Green Schoolhouse Series in the inaugural project, the Safari Schoolhouse, built at Roadrunner Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. Duro-Last will be contributing roofing materials to assist in building a healthy, high-performance school.

Ground breaking on this first school is scheduled for the end of November and Duro-Last Marketing Communications Director, Fred Sitter, will be there. Watch in the coming weeks for a follow up article with photos from the event.

Why Photovoltaic? Why Now?

Photovoltaic (PV) systems have been around for a while now, but the growth of rooftop PV installations has increased dramatically over the past few years. What is causing this surge?

There are many reasons PV systems make sense now and for the future. Energy costs will continue to escalate, and supply will continue to be chased by demand. Expanding the use of renewable energy sources such as PV can help meet some of the demand and relieve some of the cost pressures on electricity.

Rooftops are a good place to locate PV systems because they are typically little used and are free from obstructions that can hamper PV performance. Utilizing rooftops can also reduce land use, making it available for other purposes, or simply as green space.

PV is a clean, unobtrusive energy source, meaning that it does not pollute while it produces energy; eliminating the environmental issues associated with many other forms of electricity generation. The question arises as to whether the net benefits from PV electrical generation outweigh the monetary and environmental costs associated with production, installation, and disposal of a PV system. That analysis has not been done, but it could prove interesting.

Incentives from federal, state, and local governments and from utility companies can ease the financial burden of an investment in PV, plus encourage its introduction and the development of more cost competitive PV technologies. A good source of information on incentives is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at

Increased use of PV can help reduce some dependence on foreign sources of fuel, leading to less potential for hardship due to supply disruptions.


While improving energy efficiency in buildings is essential (by way of reflective coatings, better insulation, high efficiency windows, day lighting, etc.), it cannot be the only component in pursuing Zero Net Energy Building design. Sources of renewable energy are necessary to supplement conventional sources.

Finally, as the cost of conventional energy sources goes up and availability goes down, the cost of solar electrical production is approaching parity with most conventional sources.

PV systems can be expected to last 20 years or more, so they should be paired with a roof system that doesn’t require much routine maintenance and has a similar lifetime.

Finding a Construction Association to Join

Selecting and getting involved in a construction association can help get your name out and is a great way to streamline the networking process. There are many organizations specific to the construction industry that provide opportunities to market and promote roofing products and services. Most of the following organizations have local chapters: American Institute of Architects (AIA), Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA), and Roofing Consultants Institute (RCI). These professional associations provide opportunities to meet and interact with specifiers, architects, consultants, engineers, contractors, facility managers, product reps, manufacturers, and other experts in the construction industry.

I found it made sense for me to get involved with the CSI both locally and throughout my region. CSI’s member base includes suppliers, architects/specifiers, general contractors, and building owners. To me, it’s the kill-multiple-birds-with-one-stone analogy. Where else can I meet with several different architect firms at one time over a luncheon or evening program?

In addition to CSI, several other associations are worth a shot. AIA meetings are typically attended by the designers, principals, and owners of the firms. Many local AIA trade shows can be beneficial because of the number of key architects who attend. BOMA is a great place to meet people who own or manage property. RCI chapters are usually located in mid-to-large metropolitan areas and can be an opportunity to identify key consultants involved in re-roofing projects.

In summary, getting involved in a construction association can be a great way to network for business opportunities. It will take time to decide which ones make the most sense to participate it, but the reward for being on the front end of a project can be the difference in making that next sale.

Like most things in life, the more involved you are, the more you get out of it through business opportunities, education, credibility, and name recognition.

Solar on Life Support? Not So Fast…

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” So said Mark Twain more than a century ago. Despite the recent and well-publicized demise of Solyndra, the photovoltaic industry might echo Twain’s remark, given the rousing attendance at this year’s Solar Power International (SPI) show in Dallas. More than 1100 exhibitors displayed their wares to an estimated 20,000 attendees at the Dallas Convention Center, October 17-19.

The Duro-Last booth was busy, as we demonstrated to visitors how the Duro-Last roofing system is “solar-ready,” with prefabricated flashings that easily provide a watertight fit around PV mounting racks and other rooftop penetrations.

We were joined in the booth by Duro-Last independent sales reps Daniel and Leah Lakstins (West Texas) and Buddy Wilson (East Texas). Also dropping by on my watch were representatives from Duro-Last authorized contractors Jaco Roofing & Construction (Clute, Texas) and LaFerney, Inc. (Kingsport, Tennessee).

Kevin Kelley and Drew Ballensky warming up pre-show to greet the throngs of visitors to the Duro-Last booth at SPI!