About Allen Barry

Allen Barry writes about architecture and sustainability from Chicago.

A Historic Mountain Home Gets a Modern Roof to Resist the Elements

The owners of a historic home in Evergreen, Colorado, made a stone-coated metal shake roof system a key part of their renovation project.

The owners of a historic home in Evergreen, Colorado, made a stone-coated metal shake roof system a key part of their renovation project.

In the Colorado Rocky Mountains just west of Denver lies a town called Evergreen. At an elevation of more than 7,000 feet, the community of about 10,000 people is awash in the beauty and serenity of the mountains while still being close to booming metro Denver and all its urban attractions.

It’s easy to see why many would consider Evergreen a perfect place to call home. For Jay Jackson, a local resident who grew up in Evergreen, there were plenty of reasons to stay. The views and the fresh mountain air are hard to walk away from. Even sweeter for Jackson was the fact that the historic house he had long considered his favorite in Evergreen went up for sale, and he was able to buy it and make it his own.

The house was a classic and a cornerstone to the history of the town. Its design hearkened back to Evergreen’s roots as a popular resort town in the 1920s and 1930s. The house was built next to the luxury Troutsdale Hotel, which was a magnet for high-end guests in the old days.

Although beautifully designed and filled with history, the house definitely needed some work. Still, Jackson and his wife, Corinne, really wanted to be respectful to its original intent while bringing it up to modern living standards.

Expert Help

The roof was a major part of the renovation that needed to take place on the house. The original wood shake roof had begun to warp and was showing some leaks. The Jacksons knew it needed to be replaced, but they wanted to do it in a way that is respectful to the home’s legacy and history.

To tackle a project of this magnitude, the Jacksons turned to Denver-based Horn Brothers Roofing, a full-service roofing company that specializes in roofing systems for homes of all sizes, as well as commercial buildings, restaurants, churches and HOAs. The firm does a lot of work in the mountain communities near Denver and was given a convincing referral by someone close to the owners.

“We were contacted by the homeowners because we had a great reputation in the Evergreen area and had installed a stone-coated steel roof on the owner’s parents’ house several years prior,” recalls Matthew Williams, territory sales with Horn Brothers Roofing. “The parents were extremely pleased with their roof, so we got the call.”

Fire and Ice

Living in the mountains means dealing with all manner of elements, from wildly changing temperatures; high winds; and the harsh, UV-filled sunlight found at high elevations. For example, having a steep-slope roof at this elevation means controlling snow and ice buildup is vital. An ice and water shield was used over the entire roof. But the element that was perhaps most prominent on the mind of the Jacksons was fire.

The stone-coated metal roofing system is designed to give the appearance of wood shake but has a Class A fire rating, a 2 1/2-inch hailstone warranty and a 120-mph wind warranty.

The stone-coated metal roofing system is designed to give the appearance of wood shake but has a Class A fire rating, a 2 1/2-inch hailstone warranty and a 120-mph wind warranty.

Wildfires are a scary reality in the mountains, and the fact that the home’s remote location makes it difficult for firefighters to access was definitely on the minds of the Jacksons and the renovation team. This is multiplied by the fact that Jackson had actually worked as a wild land and structural firefighter. “The homeowner is a fire captain and the home has a very narrow bridge for access, so a Class A fire rating was vitally important,” Williams says. “Access for emergency vehicles is limited and the location in the mountains makes the home susceptible to wildfires.”

Through firsthand experience, Jackson knew the damage that wildfires can wreak on wood shake shingles. A Canyon Shake stone-coated metal roofing system was chosen to stand up to the elements and protect against fire. This type of roof gives the rustic appearance of wood shake but has a Class A fire rating, a 2 1/2-inch hailstone warranty and a 120-mph wind warranty.

Photos: Heather Lyons Coffman

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Historic Home Gets a Refresh with a Striking New Copper Roof

Anyone who spends time in Connecticut finds themselves in a place with deep historical roots that stretch back to colonial times. It is an inherent part of the charm of the state and something in which residents take great pride.

Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, the copper roof maintains the traditional look and feel of the house.

Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, the copper roof maintains the traditional look and feel of the house.

There is a real, tangible window to this rich historical tradition in many of the historic homes and buildings all across the state. Great care has been taken to preserve the look and operation of many historic structures and to integrate them into the architectural fabric of communities all around Connecticut.

Like many places and institutions in the state, Litchfield County has a history that goes back to pre-Revolutionary days. Established as a county in 1719, Litchfield County was home to Harriett Beecher Stowe and was also where Sarah Pierce established in 1792 the Litchfield Female Academy, one of the first major educational institutions for women and girls in the U.S.

Today, Litchfield County has 166 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Staying true to the architectural heritage of the state is very important to the people who live there. However, just because a home or building looks like it did a few hundred years ago doesn’t mean it has to operate that way, too. Many owners of historic homes want to bring the function of their houses into modern times while still keeping the look and feel of the past.

This was the case for homeowners in Litchfield County who wanted to make some modern improvements while still preserving the traditional look and feel of their home in Sharon, Conn. For this work, the homeowners turned to the professionals at Anderson Enterprises, a general contracting building and renovation firm in Sharon. The project started with modest goals in mind but quickly grew.

“We were initially hired to replace four oak floors,” recalls Ellen Burcroff with Anderson Enterprises. “That was then extended to changing the mouldings, re-plastering, painting, renovating the third floor and master bedroom, as well as rebuilding the chimney and replacing the roof.”

Anderson Enterprises won the job after an interview. “Our goal was to get the homeowners into a more pleasing interior,” Burcroff says.

The entire home features a brass snow-retention system. PHOTO: MetalPlus LLC

The entire home features a brass snow-retention system. PHOTO: MetalPlus LLC

As part of the interior overhaul, the project included providing the home with proper ventilation and insulation. Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, maintaining the traditional look and feel of the house was extremely important. Performing this kind of retrofit on a historic home without damaging the exterior often means going in through the roof, which was what was decided upon for this project. Removing the old wood shake roof meant installing a new one. The contractor believed this was a perfect time for a change.

“The customers wanted a historically authentic look,” Burcroff explains. “We strongly recommended not using wood shingles again. Ultimately, we all decided on using copper for the new roof.”

A copper roof was a perfect solution for this project for many reasons. On a performance level, the homeowners were interested in the durability and energy efficiency of copper. Aesthetically, copper delivers a striking curb appeal that is still in keeping with the historic nature of the home. And its natural patina will only enhance the look of the home over time.

GETTING IT DONE

With the appropriate decisions made, Anderson Enterprises’ team started work on the home. The wood shakes and wood lath were removed, exposing the rafters underneath. Fiberglass insulation was installed with about a 2-inch space left above the rafters for airflow.

PHOTOS: VLC IMAGES MOBILE STUDIO, COURTESY MARIO LALLIER, unless otherwise noted

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EPDs Provide a New Level of Environmental Transparency to Building Products

The sustainability movement has impacted the building industry in many ways. Today’s architects, owners and occupants have much greater expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in. Part of this expectation is focused on the components that make up the building. For example, did the wood come from responsibly harvested forests? Is the metal made of recycled material? Do the paint and interior finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is developed by applying a Product Category Rule, or PCR. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others.

An EPD is developed by applying a Product Category Rule. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others. IMAGE: Quantis US

Information technology has encouraged and facilitated this increased demand for in-depth data about building components and systems. People have become accustomed to being able to gather exhaustive information about the products they buy through extensive labeling or online research.

In response to the growing demand for environmental product information, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs.

It’s a term now commonly heard, but what are they? EPDs are often spoken in the same breath as things like LCA (life-cycle assessment), PCRs (product category rules) and many other TLAs (three-letter acronyms). The fact is they are all related and are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building.

“An EPD is a specific document that informs the reader about the environmental performance of a product,” explains Sarah Mandlebaum, life-cycle analyst with Quantis US, the Boston-based branch of the global sustainability consulting firm Quantis. “It balances the need for credible and thorough information with the need to make such information reasonably understandable. The information provided in the document is based on a life-cycle assessment, or LCA, of the product, which documents the environmental impacts of that product from ‘cradle to grave.’ This includes impacts from material production, manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of the product. An EPD is simply a standardized way of communicating the outcomes of such an assessment.”

The concept of product LCAs has been around for some time and has often been looked at as a way of determining the sustainability of a particular product by establishing the full scope of its environmental footprint. The basic idea is to closely catalog everything that goes into a product throughout its entire life. That means the energy, raw materials, and emissions associated with sourcing its materials, manufacturing it, transporting it, installing it and, ultimately, removing and disposing of it. In the end, an LCA results in a dizzying amount of data that can be difficult to translate or put in any context. EPDs are one way to help provide context and help put LCA data to use.

“The summary of environmental impact data in the form of an EPD can be analogous to a nutrition label on food,” says Scott Kriner, LEED AP, technical director of the Metal Construction Association (MCA), Chicago. “There is plenty of information on the label, but the information itself is meaningless unless one is focused on one area. An LCA determines the water, energy and waste involved in the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation to a job site and the reclamation of waste at the end of the useful life of a product. With that data in hand, the various environmental impact categories can be determined and an EPD can be developed to summarize the environmental impact information.”

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