Is Roofing Part of Your Energy Management Strategy? Part 1

With the continuing volatility of oil and gas prices, two things have become increasingly important to the owners and managers of buildings of all shapes, sizes and locations: energy management and cool roofing. And yet, the two are seldom discussed as related issues. If you ask a building owner or manager about their energy management strategies, chances are they’ll mention a variety of “high-tech” solutions for improving building automation, systems interoperability, and the energy efficiency of their lighting, office equipment, security systems, and the biggest electricity consumer of all – air conditioning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $40 billion is spent annually to air condition commercial buildings, which is one-sixth of all electricity consumed in the United States.

Important as these high-tech solutions are, the enormous energy savings potential from smart “low-tech” roofing decisions are typically regarded as a traditional “building envelope” issue. But smart roofing decisions can reduce annual air conditioning consumption by 10 to 40 percent, depending on location, building design, climate, and other factors. This not only reduces air conditioning loads and utility bills, but can also allow facilities to downsize their air conditioning equipment considerably.

The Cool Roofing Trend

Roofing can contribute to energy efficiency in two ways – proper insulation, and reflective surfaces. Thermal roofing insulation became a major consideration during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. Proper insulation helps keep warm air in during the winter and out during the summer. Insulation needs vary from climate to climate, and most local building codes today mandate minimum roofing R-values – a material’s ability to resist heat flow.

A more recent trend has been the phenomenal growth of “cool roofing” – the use of white or light-colored roof surfaces that reflect solar energy and keep building relatively cooler in summer months. Although the overall market for commercial low-sloped (flat, or nearly flat) roofing has been stagnant in recent years, demand for cool roofing systems has continued to grow strongly. More than just a sensible, long-term, “green” building design solution, cool roofing is considered by many scientists, industry experts, and government officials to be an effective means of addressing critical national energy efficiency and environmental challenges.

In our next installment we will discuss: How Cool Roofing Works.

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System: Installation Disruptions

Precision-fabricated flashings can help speed up a roof installation.
Precision-fabricated flashings can help speed up a roof installation.

You must consider many factors when your roof needs to be replaced or when you are constructing a building that requires a new roof: Price. Quality of the product being installed. Prefabrication. Installation disruptions. Ease of maintenance. Performance. Environmental impact. Life-cycle costs, and so on. It is crucial to review all of these aspects in order to make the wisest roofing choice and get the best long-term value for your investment.

This is the fourth post in a series that will discuss the issues involved in purchasing a roofing system.

Installation disruptions

Time and disruptions cost you money. When your business needs a new roof, you cannot afford to close your doors for a roof installation. You need to ask – How long will this installation take to complete? Will I need to close or control traffic at my business? Will my customers be disturbed or inconvenienced? Will I lose revenue?

Some roofing systems are disruptive when installed, using smelly materials that are not only irritating, but messy as well. Some systems may take considerably longer to install than others because they are affected by the weather and temperature.

Example: Installing some systems in 20? F weather will take much longer than others due to welding or adhesive issues. Others can be installed very easily without any disruptions to normal building operations. Make sure you are informed on the timeframe of the installation and any factors that could possibly disrupt your business operations.

Prefabricated roofing systems save on installation time. A precision-fabricated membrane is much easier to install and does not require labor-intensive welding on the job site. Furthermore, such systems can usually be installed over existing substrates, reducing the need for a tear-off, which can be very time consuming, disruptive, and messy.

Additionally, some manufacturers prefabricate roofing accessories such as curbs, stacks, scuppers, and parapets that are included with the system, which helps to reduce the installation time as well as ensure high-quality products that are a perfect fit for each roof.

Single-ply roofing systems that are prefabricated and mechanically-attached provide a quiet and safe installation. No loud machinery or noxious fumes are used that could disrupt building activities or harm occupants. In most cases, building occupants don’t even realize a roof is being installed.

When it comes down to it, disruptions during a roofing installation can cost a building owner money and time, so make sure to research how the installation will take place and what types of materials are being used.

In our fifth installment of Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System, we will discuss roofing system features that provide easy maintenance.

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System: Prefabrication

You must consider many factors when your roof needs to be replaced or when you are constructing a building that requires a new roof: Price. Quality of the product being installed. Prefabrication. Installation disruptions. Ease of maintenance. Performance. Environmental impact. Life-cycle costs, and so on. It is crucial to review all of these aspects in order to make the wisest roofing choice and get the best long-term value for your investment.

This is the third in a series of posts that will discuss the issues involved in purchasing a roofing system.

Prefabrication

A rooftop can be a difficult environment to produce consistent quality welds for single-ply roofing systems, sometimes causing imperfect seams. And the more seams that are done on the job site, under all kinds of weather and work conditions, the greater the potential for leaks down the road. However, using roofing materials that are “prefabricated” provide the following benefits:

  • Less seaming completed on the rooftop

    Some roofing products are delivered to the job site in rolls of 100, 500 or 1,000 square feet, which means that crews have several small sections of material to work with and must hand-weld all seams on the roof.

    Other roofing systems boast prefabricated panels (up to 2,500 square feet in length) that are precision fabricated to fit each building, with most of the seaming completed in a controlled factory environment.

    By reducing the amount of required rooftop seaming, this helps to ensure a proper fit and watertight protection for years to come.

  • Less labor needed to install the roofing system

    Prefabrication allows membrane panels to be produced in larger sizes with less on-site welding required. Therefore, less labor is needed to install the roofing system.
  • Less waste

    Prefabrication signifies there is less material waste on the job site because there is less on-site welding necessary for the installation. Reduced material waste also means less landfill usage.
  • Reduced installation time

    Prefabrication saves on installation time. A precision-fabricated membrane is much easier to install and does not require labor-intensive welding on the job site.

    Additionally, some manufacturers prefabricate all the roofing accessories such as curbs, stacks, scuppers, and parapets that are included with the system, which helps to reduce the installation time as well as ensure high-quality products that are a perfect fit for each roof.

  • Less installation disruptions

    Single-ply roofing systems that are prefabricated and mechanically-attached provide a quiet and safe installation. No loud machinery or noxious fumes are used that could disrupt building activities or harm occupants.
  • Reduced maintenance

    Because prefabricated roofing systems have fewer seams, the chances of future leaks are reduced and therefore, less maintenance is required to sustain the system. Furthermore, regular patching, re-coating or repairs are not mandatory.
  • Increased roof performance

    Prefabrication enhances the performance capabilities of a single-ply membrane, helping make it more durable, leak-proof, and a better investment. Many single-plies are also resistant to fire, chemicals, high winds, punctures, and wide temperature extremes.

As you can see, prefabrication provides a variety of attributes that offer customers reliable roof performance when it comes to single-ply roofing systems.

In our fourth installment of Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System, we will discuss “disruptions” that can affect some roofing system installations.

The True Price Of High Performance

Oxymoron, n: a combination of contradictory words (such as sustainability costs more)

Contrary to popular wisdom, when it comes to the building and construction industry, profitability and sustainability go hand-in-hand. In fact, if a new building component doesn’t contribute to business profitability, it is not sustainable.

Sustainability, or high performance design, is often equated with “green design.” However, high performance design is about making financially smart building choices, not just being “green.” Consumers typically will not pay for something that is green unless there’s a financial benefit as well. Sustainability is good business sense first – green comes with it.

High performance building projects address issues related to the design, construction, maintenance, rehabilitation and eventual demolition of a building with an emphasis throughout the building’s lifecycle on using resources efficiently and preserving the global environment.

The profitability of high performance design must be considered for the entire life-cycle of a building, not simply the initial cost of construction. Typically, a roofing system with a low initial cost is a teaser that fails to consider all of the costs associated with the roof over its useful life. A long-lasting, high-performance system delivers a lower cost of ownership spread out over a longer period of time, requiring fewer repeated expenses related to maintenance, repair, and replacement. Plus, benefits such as energy savings can reduce life-cycle costs even further.

Recently, a contractor called to say that he was going to change his approach to selling roofing after a building owner said that the Duro-Last roof was the least expensive roof he had ever bought. It seems that the building owner was a banker who calculated that the Duro-Last roof was costing him 30% less per year in maintenance, repairs and frequent replacements than the modified bitumen roofs that he had always used before.

A smart investment because it costs less over its life span, a high performance roofing system is the ideal choice for sustainable facilities.

What Attributes Of A Duro-Last® Roof Can Help With LEED® Ratings?

The U.S. Green Building Council has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System to help in the design and construction of buildings that have minimum negative impact on occupants and the environment. LEED provides standards for choosing products based on environmental attributes. LEED does not certify materials or products.

So what are the attributes of a Duro-Last roof that can help with soon-to-be enacted changes to LEED-NC ratings?

ATTRIBUTE

CREDITS

ENERGY STAR® labeled product with a Solar Reflectance Index equal to or greater than 78 (Duro-Last is 110) Sustainable Sites Credits 7.2
Exceeds ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1
Extend the lifecycle of an existing structure, reduce the load on air conditioning units, and reduce a buildings impact on the environment. Materials & Resources Credits 1.1 & 1.2
Custom prefabrication eliminates waste at the jobsite, scrap and trim are 100% recyclable, with four manufacturing facilities requiring less than 500 miles of shipping. Materials & Resources Credits 2.1 – 2.2, 4.1 – 4.2, 5.1 – 5.2
Two-way vent system keeps negative air pressures and condensation in check, high reflectivity keeps building cooler. Indoor Environmental Quality Credits 2 and 7.1

All in all, Duro-Last Cool Zone® can help with obtaining 13 – 31 points toward the minimum LEED certification of 40 – 49 points.

Black Roofs vs. White Roofs: Energy Information Sides With White Roofs

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the perceived benefits of black roofs compared with white roofs.

Those living in a northern climate may think that summertime energy savings realized with a white roof will be offset by the elimination of a beneficial heating gain that might occur with a black roof in the winter; that the heating benefit of a black roof is greater than the cooling benefit of a white roof. However, several factors make any potential wintertime heat gain from a black roof relatively immaterial:

  • The laws of physics dictate that hot air will always rise. Thus, any heat that is transferred to the interior of a building structure from the outside will remain at the top of the structure, providing minimal heating benefits to occupants below.
  • In all parts of North America in the winter, there are fewer hours of sunlight available to contribute to warm a building. In fact, in some areas, there is more than a six-hour difference between peak-summer and peak-winter sunlight. Plus, the angle of the sun is less direct, which also helps to minimize potential warming.
  • In many areas, roofs are covered with snow for much of the winter, turning them “white,” and eliminating any potential black roof heat gain.
  • The energy required to air condition a building in the summer is usually considerably greater than the energy to heat it in the winter, making the potential for summer energy cost savings much greater with a highly reflective white roof than winter savings with a heat absorbing black roof.

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System: Quality

You must consider many factors when your roof needs to be replaced or when you are constructing a building that requires a new roof: Price. Quality of the product being installed. Prefabrication. Installation disruptions. Ease of maintenance. Performance. Environmental impact. Life-cycle costs, and so on. It is crucial to review all of these aspects in order to make the wisest roofing choice and get the best long-term value for your investment.

This is the second in a series of posts that will discuss the issues involved in purchasing a roofing system.

Quality of the product being installed

Obviously, every building owner wants high-quality materials used on his/her building. When choosing a roofing system, it is very important to research the resources that are used to manufacture the finished product.

Most roofing manufacturers include product information on their web sites, where you can research the materials used in the production of their roofing systems. This knowledge can affect other valuable decision-making options.

For example, the makeup of a thermoplastic single-ply roofing system helps to create its reflective qualities, which impact how much a building owner can save on energy costs. Remember: the higher the reflectivity and emissivity qualities of the roofing membrane, the more you will likely save on energy costs during the summer months.

Additionally, the composition of the roofing system will determine how durable it will be as well as its ability to resist fire, chemicals, punctures, high winds, and weather extremes.

Many of these properties will be important, depending on the geographical location of your building. For instance, buildings in some parts of the United States experience “thermal shock” due to wide temperature extremes. Some roofing systems are more flexible than others, and are capable of expanding and contracting with temperature changes without jeopardizing the performance of the roofing system.

Some single-ply roofing manufacturers promote the idea that when it comes to performance, “thicker” means “better.” However, roofing system performance is based on several factors, including product composition, reinforcement, and thickness. Evaluate these criteria before you select your new roofing system:

Film formulation determines the flexibility of the membrane and its ability to resist crazing and cracking over time and to protect against ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Membrane thickness provides protection from water, snow, and ice.

Reinforcement provided by the scrim layer is the source of the membrane’s strength. The scrim protects against natural elements such as wind and hail, and from human activities that can cause punctures and tears. Reinforcement also gives dimensional stability to the membrane and strength against building movement.

Beside the product itself, a high-quality roofing system application is dependent on the experience and skills of the crew installing it. You can have the best roofing system available, but if the crew is inexperienced, rushed, or not detail-oriented, that system could be installed incorrectly and potential problems could arise. Before making a new roofing system investment, thoroughly investigate the contractor and crew who will be installing it.

Lastly, the quality of the roofing product itself is important, but so is the support you receive from the manufacturer. Some manufacturers stand behind their systems with strong warranties that may, for example, include coverage against ponding water and consequential damages. Solid warranty protection is a must when purchasing a roofing system, and is an indication of the confidence the manufacturer has in the quality of its roofing product.

In our third installment of Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System, we will discuss the benefits of “prefabrication” in a roofing system.

It’s October – Will Your Roof Survive The Winter?

If your commercial building is in need of a new roof, there is still plenty of good weather to complete the process. Often, the need for a new roof is forgotten during the drier summer months, but as the end of the year approaches and cooler, wetter weather sets in, building owners and managers should consider whether their roofs will be able to outlast another winter.

Now is the perfect time to evaluate the integrity of your roofing system. In the fall, leaves, branches, and debris often collect on a roof and clog drains and vents, causing water to pond and possibly damage the roof. It’s a good idea to take a roofing expert – perhaps a local contractor you can trust (get references) – up on the roof to help you determine whether to repair or replace it.

If you decide to replace your roof, the Duro-Last roofing system is formulated so it can be installed with top-quality results during the marginal weather that affects much of the country in the last quarter of the year. A Duro-Last installation does not require a specific daytime temperature range, and is not affected by humidity variations.

If you need a contractor, we have relationships with local roofers across North America. If you are already working with a roofing contractor on a new Duro-Last installation you still have plenty of time to complete the process and get the roof installed before the arrival of harsher weather in the first quarter of the year.

Performing a little rooftop “due diligence” now could prevent the formation of a bucket brigade inside your building next spring.<-->

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System: Price

You must consider many factors when your roof needs to be replaced or you are constructing a building that requires a new roof. Price. Quality of the product being installed. Prefabrication. Installation disruptions. Ease of maintenance. Performance. Environmental impact. Life-cycle costs, and so on. All of these aspects are crucial to review in order to make the wisest roofing choice and get the best long-term value for your investment.

This is the first in a series of posts that will discuss the issues around purchasing a roofing system.

Price

We all know that consumers want to get their money’s worth when they purchase a product. That’s why most people look for the “big sales” in the weekend edition of their local newspapers. We tend to want products that are inexpensive but still produce the best results. However, that rarely happens.

When it comes to roofing systems, you normally get what you pay for. You must consider the long-term value you will be receiving at the price you will be paying. Remember: high-quality products usually cost more.

Additionally, if you are going to invest in a high-performance roofing system, you will want to have skilled roofers installing your new roof. Regardless of the system installed, the effectiveness of the roofing system is dependent on the contractor’s professional experience, craftsmanship, and reputation. Ask to see references and other roofing jobs the contractor has completed. Check out his crew to see how professional they look and act. Do they have a standard uniform or do they show up in tattered jeans and a grubby t-shirt? Are they courteous and able to answer your questions? Whatever you do, make sure that you are completely comfortable with a contractor’s crew before you allow them to set foot on your property.

Another question that should be asked when looking into the price of a roofing system is – How complete is the system? Are all the accessories included with the roofing system? Some come complete with all accessories included, while others can “nickel and dime” you for components that were not a part of the original plan. Furthermore, some manufacturers require you to keep a regular maintenance program in order to be covered by their warranty; another added expense if you are not prepared to implement such a plan.

Proper investigation into the “hidden” costs of a new roofing system is crucial before you place your order; it can save you a lot of money down the line!

In our second installment of Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Roofing System, we will discuss what “quality” features to look for in a roofing system.