Kids, Energy, Education, and Cool Roofing!

“Energy” and “schoolchildren” are terms that can possibly be used interchangeably, as the latter often seem to be personifications of the former. That was certainly the case on December 1, as I was privileged to witness the groundbreaking festivities for the “Safari” – the initial facility to be built in the Green Schoolhouse series. The ceremony was held at the Roadrunner Elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona.

The kids were clearly enthusiastic about this landmark construction project, and the visit from the “dignitaries” representing the companies that are participating in the project. They sang a song called, “It’s easy to be green,” and provided tours of their current facility. They were also moving around a lot to keep warm in the chilly, 45-degree temperature. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy, as my original flight to Phoenix was cancelled due to a blizzard in mid-Michigan.

In this case, another connection between energy and kids applies. These school buildings are being constructed to achieve LEED platinum status – which means energy savings and a whole lot of other environmental benefits for the students. In the case of the Safari design, the energy savings – at least in part – are being delivered by the highly-reflective Duro-Last® Cool Zone® roofing system.

Duro-Last is proud to be a part of this initiative, as we have long been roofing industry leaders when it comes to sustainability. In this specific case, it gives us the opportunity to keep those students’ energy moving in a safe, sustainable direction!


Groundbreaking for the “Safari” Roadrunner Elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona

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!

Recycle Your Roof: A Reality Made Possible By Duro-Last® Roofing and Oscoda Plastics®

PVC is one of the most widely used plastics in the world. It has been used in the medical industry for over 50 years in flexible containers and tubing. And it has been used in roofing systems since the early 1960s. But what happens when the roof has come to the end of its useful life? Oscoda Plastics, Inc., a sister company to Duro-Last Roofing, Inc., has been recycling PVC, primarily manufacturing scrap from Duro-Last, since 1989 and turning it into PROTECT-ALL Commercial Flooring. PROTECT-ALL is a commercial grade flooring system that is slip resistant, durable, easy to maintain, and provides stain and fire protection.

Watch this short video on how a 20-year-old Duro-Last roof was recycled into PROTECT-ALL flooring and used again, now on the deck sheet folding floor at Duro-Last’s Saginaw production facility.

If you would like additional information on how to recycle your Duro-Last roof, visit this link for additional information.

Greenbuild 2011 Wrap Up

The 10th anniversary of U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo was held October 4th – 7th at the Metro Toronto Convention Center in Toronto, Canada. Greenbuild is the largest expo dedicated to green building with over 20,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors. Duro-Last® was one of those exhibitors and has been for the last eight years.

This year the show floor traffic felt a bit slower than in past years. It may be because it was in Canada, or that the two halls were a great distance apart. The last day did seem busier in the South hall where Duro-Last was, and our booth had good traffic most of the day with several promising opportunities.

We had a video running in the booth showcasing a 20-year-old Duro-Last roof that had been recycled into PROTECT-ALL® flooring (manufactured by sister company, Oscoda Plastics®, Inc.), which was very interesting to many attendees. You can watch the three-minute video by clicking on this link.

Ken Claes, Midwest Sales Coordinator, at the Duro-Last booth.

I had the opportunity to attend two educational sessions this year. The first was Green Schools that Teach: Whole-School Sustainability. This was a report on a case study conducted by Stephanie Barr and Brian Dunbar from the Institute for the Built Environment and Katharine Leigh from Colorado State University. They studied five LEED certified schools that they called “whole-school sustainable.” One interesting part of their study included an educational program where the students took part in understanding sustainable practices. For example, one school has a volatile organic compounds (VOC) monitor and every day at 10:30 am and 12:30pm students noticed the VOC indicator rose significantly. They wondered why this happened and found out that every day at that time all of the students were using anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. They are now conscious of this and are changing their habits to make their air quality better.

The second session I attended was, Are there any sustainable materials? Exploring the role of materials stewardship in sustainable built environments. This was an interactive session with speakers Lindsay James from Interface, Inc., Sarah Brooks from The Natural Step Canada, Gail Vittori from Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, and Jennifer Atlee from BuildingGreen. I thought we were going to learn about specific sustainable products, but it was more of a general discussion about sustainable products, and whether there truly are any out there. “Biomimicry,” a new term to me, looks to nature and natural systems for inspiration, and in nature, there is no such thing as waste – anything left over from one animal or plant is food for another species. One of the oldest examples of biomimicry is Velcro which was invented by Swiss inventor George de Mestral in 1941 after he removed burrs from his dog. This got the group thinking about products used in the building industry that reflect biomimcry.

I have had the opportunity to attend Greenbuild three years now and it is still exciting to see what companies have come up with to contribute to green building practices. As always I will be looking forward to Greenbuild 2012 in San Francisco, California.

If you attended Greenbuild this year please leave your comments below in how the show was for you and your organization.

View from above the north hall.

Are You Ready for Solar? Integrating Single-Ply Roofing With Photovoltaic Arrays

The growth of rooftop photovoltaics (PV) has exploded over the past few years, aided by incentive programs, technological improvements, and the need for alternative sources of energy. Rooftops can be an excellent place to install PV because they are usually unused and unobstructed spaces. But utilizing a rooftop to locate PV is not without its risks – one of which is the potential to compromise the integrity of a critical component of the building envelope: the waterproof barrier that is the roofing system.

PV and roofing systems that have been effectively integrated will work in harmony to provide clean energy, savings in energy costs, and protect the building and its contents for many years. It is important for a building owner to be aware of all the elements to consider when selecting a roofing system to go under a rooftop PV system. Examples of some issues include foot traffic, roof access for repairs, access for fire fighters, access for HVAC service, excess heat impacts on the roof, weight, snow and seismic loads, fire ratings, wind, hail resistance, drainage, and building codes.

A poorly designed and improperly matched roof system is a candidate for failure, and can lead to damage to a building and its contents and possible premature removal of a PV system for repair and/or replacement of the roof.

The best single-ply roofing systems are those that are able to integrate with virtually any type of PV system and mounting method, and provide years of leak-free performance while the PV system is generating power. You can learn more about what it takes for a roofing system to be “solar-ready” by downloading our “solar-ready” roofing system flyer.

Flying into Saginaw? Keep Your Eyes Peeled!

Some months ago, we featured a rooftop lettering project installed by Ed Rutherford Roofing of Palmyra, Missouri, at Lindenwood University. Since then, we have produced lettering and logos for several other jobs around the country, but the roof on our own HQ location remained unbranded. I am pleased to report that we in Saginaw are no longer the unshod cobbler’s children, as the photo here will confirm. A logo pattern made from our gray membrane was recently heat welded to the Duro-Last roof on the building. The lettering, made by Duro-Last sister company Tri-City Vinyl, measures 102 feet high by 240 feet wide.

Duro-Last’s ability to do this kind of project is unique in the roofing industry. If you have a building near an airport and you would like to promote your business to the jet set, give our sales department a call at 800-248-0280.

Avoiding The Breaking Point

From time to time we come across great articles on roofing that we feel are important to share with our readers. Recently, Kent Mattison, P.E., a senior consultant, president and partner with Benchmark Inc., a roof and pavement consulting firm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wrote a four part article for Facilities Net titled Roofing: Avoiding The Breaking Point. This builds on previous blog posts that we have shared regarding roof replacement. It explains not only the economic impact of roof leaks, but the safety hazards and impact it has on building occupants. It also touches on the importance of conducting an inventory and analysis of the roofs current condition and how it can help you plan and budget for future roof replacement. A product focus of different roofing systems is also included.

If you ever come across good roofing articles please let us know in the comments so we can share the information on our blog.