A Little Piece of the Planet

There was an old TV commercial for one of the Big Box stores that really hit me. It was an ad selling garden tools and mulch, and at the end of the commercial, the tagline was something like this: “It’s not just your yard. It’s your own little piece of the planet.”

That’s how I remember it, anyway. And that’s weird for several reasons, including the fact that I almost never watch commercials (that’s what the remote control is for), and I’m certainly not a huge fan of yard work. I am, however, ridiculously attached to the small scrap of grass behind our house that is our backyard.

When the weather cooperates, our yard makes our house seem ten times bigger. The backyard provides more usable space, a place to relax and a little touch of Mother Nature. It’s a literal breath of fresh air.

I was reminded of how much I miss our backyard during the winter while working on this issue, which spotlights green roofs. I can understand the desire to increase usable space, but vegetative systems can bring so much more to the rooftop than aesthetics. They can help minimize storm water runoff, expand the natural habitat for birds and other wildlife, and help roofs perform more efficiently over a longer lifespan. From The Wharf in D.C. to a Manhattan skyscraper to home on an island in the state of Washington, the green roofs profiled in this issue are getting attention for all the right reasons.

When it comes to providing a haven for the birds and the bees, green roofs are the stars of the show, but every roof has the potential to last longer, conserve energy and help the planet. The industry is taking a leading role in educating the public and government on the benefits of long-lasting, high-performing roofs. In this issue, Tom Hutchinson, Louisa Hart and Marcin Pazera explore the importance of designing and installing thermally efficient products and systems — and documenting their performance.

The roof is the most crucial part of the building envelope, and roof performance is a critical component of a building’s energy footprint. In this industry, durability and sustainability have become the watchwords. And that’s important because when you pull up Google Earth on your computer, what do you see? Roofs.

It’s not just your roof. It’s your own little piece of the planet.

Cole Roofing Celebrates its Centennial Anniversary

Cole Roofing focuses on commercial roofing work, with a diverse portfolio that includes single ply, built-up roofing, metal, wall panels, and renewable energy systems. Photos: Cole Roofing Company Inc.

Cole Roofing Company is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Founded in 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland, the company currently employs more than 100 workers and focuses on commercial roofing work, with a diverse portfolio that includes single ply, built-up roofing, metal, wall panels, and renewable energy systems.

In 2012, William Robert Cole, known as Billy, took over the helm of the company from his father, William Roland Cole, known as Bill. Billy Cole represents the fourth generation of his family to run the business. As the company commemorated this milestone, Bill and Billy Cole shared their memories of the company and insights on the industry with Roofing.

100 Years of History

Bill’s grandfather, John H. Cole Sr., founded the company as John H. Cole & Sons after World War I. “My grandfather started the business in his basement making ductwork for home furnaces,” Bill says.

The business expanded to include gutters and downspouts, which led to installing shingle roofing. “Near the end of World War WII, my grandfather died suddenly,” Bill recalls. “All three of the older sons were off in the military. My grandmother, Mary Cole, ran the business for about two years until the war ended and the sons returned.”

Two of Mary’s sons, John and Bud Cole, took over the business after the war. In the 50s, the company started installing BUR on row houses in Baltimore. In the 60s, at Bud’s initiative, the company began doing commercial work. Bud bought out his brother in the mid-60s, and the commercial side of the business continued to grow as the residential side tapered off.

John H. Cole Sr. founded the company as John H. Cole & Sons in 1919.

“In the late 70s, I saw an opportunity with the introduction of single-ply membranes,” Bill says. “We shut down our residential side and trained all our steep roofers to install single-ply roofing.”

Bill Cole became president of the company in 1989 and continued to build the company, expanding into metal roofing. After years of being known as Cole Roofing, the company officially changed its name from John H. Cole & Sons to Cole Roofing Company Inc. in 1998. The business has continued to diversify in the 21st century, expanding into areas including green roofs, photovoltaic systems and metal wall panels. Bill served as president until 2012, when Billy was named president; Bill remains with the company as senior vice president.

Following in Their Father’s Footsteps

Bill remembers being exposed to the business at an early age. “Sometimes on Saturdays when I was 10 or 12, my dad would go out and look at jobs, and sometimes he would take me with him,” Bill notes. He began working summers at the company in 1971 after his sophomore year of high school. His starting wage was $2.75 an hour. He was surprised to find out the laborer working alongside him — a college student — was making $3 an hour. “I stormed into my dad’s office to ask him what the heck was going on,” Bill recalls. “My dad didn’t even blink. He said, ‘Well, one day you’ll be able to tell people you truly started at the bottom.’”

Cole Roofing Company is a fourth-generation family business. Billy Cole (left) is the company’s president. His father, Bill Cole (right), the former president, remains with the company as senior vice president.

Bill worked on some of the company’s high-profile projects, including Baltimore City Hall, the National Aquarium, M&T Bank Stadium and the U.S. Naval Academy. “We did almost all of the slate roofs at the Naval Academy,” he notes. “Over the years, we did a tremendous amount of work down there. We don’t do much slate anymore, but back in its heyday, in the late 50s and 60s, we did a lot of slate work.”

Billy got his first opportunity to work for the company at age 13, when he did odd jobs including cleaning up the yard and cutting the grass. “I moved on to destroying things with fork lifts, and then when I got my driver’s license, I moved on to destroying things with pickup trucks,” Billy explains. “Thank goodness my dad was patient.”

Cole Roofing Company’s leadership team includes (from left) Billy Cole, Bill Cole and Jim Layman.

Billy worked summers for Cole Roofing while in high school and continued to work at the company while taking night courses at nearby Towson University. He decided to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, and he’s found it a rewarding experience.

“I had the fortunate opportunity to learn a lot about succession planning and running a family business from my grandfather and father,” Billy says. “I like what I do. Roofing fills this need for people. You’re genuinely helping them when they need it the most. People do need an expert to help them at that point, when water is coming in their building and preventing them from functioning. It ranks high on their crisis level.”

Adapting to a Changing World

Bill and Billy Cole believe the company has thrived by staying on the leading edge — and not the bleeding edge — of change in the industry. “We have always kept an eye toward the future,” notes Bill. “We don’t always want to be the first — let someone else work the bugs out — but we are never far behind.”

The Coles point to three examples of key technological advancements over the years that benefitted the company: embracing single-ply membranes, the early adoption of computers, and taking a leading role in roof-related renewable energy.

The demand for green roofs has surged in the Baltimore and D.C. markets, and Cole Roofing adapted to help customers meet their needs.

“The biggest change during my time was the introduction of single-ply membranes,” Bill says. “We always treated single ply as a separate division because in our opinion the skill set was so different. Retraining our steep roofers to be single-ply roofers was a great move for the guys and the company.”

While some companies abandoned built-up roofing entirely, Cole Roofing’s approach kept BUR as a viable part of the company’s portfolio. “Built-up roofing never went away from Cole Roofing,” Bill says. “As a result of that, we were able to use our single-ply division to grow the company. We never gave up on built-up roofing. It has stood the test of time.”

Bill readily admits that adding computers benefitted the business, but he was not fond of the idea at first. The company introduced computers to the accounting department, and it snowballed from there. “We fought that change like almost every other contractor I know,” Bill says. “Once we got into that world, it was wonderful. Eventually they put a computer on my desk and I became the spread sheet king. For a ten-year period, it really gave us a leg up on the competition.”

Under Billy’s leadership, the company has focused on further upgrading its computer capabilities. Billy also spearheaded a program to focus on living roofs and renewable energy, including photovoltaics.

“Historically, I saw where my grandfather and father felt it was important that if there was a reliable, trustworthy product that got introduced into the roofing universe, we needed to be able to provide that for our customers,” Billy says. “In the early 2000s, vegetative roofs started to pop up, and that made sense to us. We believed there was a way to do it that would maintain the integrity of the roof and still provide some ancillary benefits.”

Aided by legislation in the Baltimore and D.C. markets promoting storm water management, the green roof market surged. “That opened our eyes to the concept of using the roof as a platform — as something other than the roof being just an umbrella for your building,” Billy recalls. “Once I learned about solar and understood the economics and the return, that made me gravitate toward the idea of building small power plants on top of people’s buildings.”

A Culture of Safety

For all of the company’s accomplishments, there is one that stands above the rest, according to the Coles: the development of a comprehensive safety and loss prevention program.

“Cole was a leader in introducing real safety to the roofing industry,” Bill says. “It all started when I met an insurance consultant named Ben Tyler in the late 70s. He convinced me that we should be partners with our insurance companies, not adversaries. I put together a subcommittee of field employees and supervisors, and with guidance from Ben we built a comprehensive loss control program.”

The subcommittee developed two manuals — a company handbook and a safety handbook — and the experience changed the company. “It was an eye-opener, but we saw results,” Bill says. “We’ve been told by the insurance companies that we have dealt with over the years our experience mod was much lower than any other roofers that they knew.”

Cole Roofing was asked to give a presentation about its loss control program at the NRCA convention in the mid 80s. “I got to know some of my competitors, and I began to share some of the stuff we were doing,” Bill remembers. “People asked us to share our program with them, and we freely did that. A lot of companies are probably still running a version of the Cole Roofing safety program today.”

Cole Roofing now employs a full-time loss control manager and two quality control inspectors. “We all put safety first and provide support, training, and accountability to the field team,” Billy says. “The field team has a culture of brotherhood. They all look out for one another and are encouraged to hold each other accountable, regardless of rank, to be safe and follow the rules. We start with focusing on getting everyone back to their family every day; compliance is a byproduct.”

Family Matters

Since announcing the 100th anniversary, the Coles have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from former employees and competitors alike. Bill chalks his company’s successful track record to “keeping it simple.” He also points to a company culture that emphasizes a strong work ethic and a commitment to its employees.

“Somewhere along the line, my dad made it clear to me that our biggest asset in our company was its employees,” Bill says. “Running a family business is not easy. We’ve had our trials and tribulations. I think the answer for us is that we have always treated our employees as family, which better prepares us to deal with our own family.”

For Billy, summing up the formula for the company’s success is simple: “We put our integrity first.”

Living Roof Helps Orcas Island Home Blend into the Landscape

This residence on Orcas Island is crowned with an extensive green roof from XeroFlor.
Photos: Terra Firma NW LLC

Orcas Island is a horseshoe-shaped island in the northwest corner of the state of Washington. With an area of 57 square miles, it’s the largest of the San Juan Islands, and accessible only by ferry. When a client approached him about building a custom home on the island, Justin Paulsen jumped at the chance. Paulsen is the owner of Terra Firma NW LLC, a general contractor located in nearby Eastsound, Washington. “We were hired directly by the owners to build the project from the ground up,” Paulsen notes.

The 3,400-square-foot home features 3,850 square feet of roof area, which is crowned with a living roof. The system specified for the project was a XeroFlor extensive green roof, which was installed on top of a PVC membrane roof manufactured by Versico.

The green roof system consists of a root barrier with a drainage composite, 1-1/4 inches of growing medium, and pre-vegetated sedum mats. The system was installed in the late fall in 2018, so many of the plants were dormant. Photos: Terra Firma NW LLC

“The roof system works well for the home, which is designed in the style of the Bauhaus school of design,” notes Paulsen. “The home features many linear design elements, and the green roof gives it a sense of blending in with the natural surroundings.”

It was only the second green roof Paulsen had been involved with, so he made sure to do his homework. He knew from experience that work on the island would pose logistical challenges, so he tapped a talented to team to help design and execute the project.

The Roofing Contractor

Paulsen wanted a skilled roofing contractor to install the waterproof layer beneath the green roof system. The Versico rep in the area, Ken Stillwell, recommended All Weather Rooftop Solutions, headquartered in Everett, Washington. The company, owned by partners Todd Severson and Greg O’Neill, typically focuses on commercial work, but this project was right in their wheelhouse. Severson knew the company had to plan ahead to ensure the everything went smoothly.

Crews from Terra Firma NW installed the green roof system. The sedum mats arrived on a pallet and were unrolled on top of the growing medium. Photos: Terra Firma NW LLC

“Working on the island was the biggest challenge of the whole project,” Severson notes. “We wanted to complete the project in one week, so we had to make sure we had everything ready to go. Everything had to be transported by ferry, so we had to schedule all of the trucks and make sure all of the material landed at one time. We just had to make sure we had all of the material and manpower on that ferry.”

The PVC roof system was installed over a plywood deck. Crews first installed two layers of 3.3-inch insulation to achieve an R-value of 38. Tapered insulation system was then added to ensure proper drainage. The insulation was topped with half-inch DensDeck Prime cover board, which was mechanically attached. A gray 60-mil PVC membrane from Versico was then fully adhered over the entire assembly.

All Weather crews also installed OMG SpeedTite roof drains with Vortex-breaker technology, as well as Solatube light tubes. The large skylight was installed by the manufacturer, CrystaLite.

All Weather Rooftop Solutions installed the PVC membrane to provide a waterproof barrier beneath the green roof. Photos: Terra Firma NW LLC

The sheet metal work was completed by All Weather on a second trip, with a smaller crew returning to complete the flashing and edge metal. The roofing portion of the project went smoothly. “Justin from Terra Firma was great work with, and our superintendent, Jeff Gale, did a great job quarterbacking it on our end,” Severson notes. “Everything went off without a hitch. It’s a pretty unique little structure.”

Paulsen agrees. “They did a great job installing the insulation and the membrane,” he notes. “The biggest thing we had to deal with after that was protecting the membrane from other trades. Our stonemason had to go back up on the roof and complete the chimneys.”

To preserve the integrity of the membrane after it was installed, Terra Firma crews cut a 20-mil pond liner pond liner into sections that were used to protect areas of the roof that had to be accessed by other trades.

Installing the Green Roof

After all the other work was completed on the rooftop, crews from Terra Firma installed the green roof system in the late fall of 2018. Paulsen had heard about XeroFlor from another contractor and did some research. He then contacted Clayton Rugh, director of XeroFlor America, to design and specify the system.

“I thought it was really top-notch system,” Paulsen notes. “I went to Clayton to document some other examples that had been installed in the area, and I pitched it to our client. Clayton did all of the functional engineering work on the green roof system and determined the soil requirements. The plantings by XeroFlor were sourced very close to the project site, which helps to ensure successful future growth.”

Photos: Terra Firma NW LLC

The extensive green roof system consists of a root barrier with a drainage composite, which is an open-flow zone of polymer coils with a bonded fleece fabric sheet. The drainage material was topped with 1-1/4 inches of growing medium, followed by 1-inch-thick pre-vegetated mats, which contained a mix of sedum succulents.

The pre-vegetated mats are installed just like sod. “They arrive rolled up on a pallet,” Rugh notes. “You just align the roll adjacent to the previously installed roll, abutting it tightly, and roll it into place.”

Terra Firma also installed the edge metal and rock ballast around the perimeter. “I was amazed at how simple it was to accommodate the green roof portion of the project,” Paulsen says. “Once the membrane was down, we knew we were rock solid and the house was well protected. The green roof portion was easy to install. I’d definitely do one again.”

Paulsen is proud to have this project under his belt. He can’t wait to see it in the spring, when the green roof is in its full glory.

“Terra Firma NW thrives on jobs that have complex and unusual requirements,” Paulsen says. “This job, from foundation all the way through the roof, presented numerous design challenges. We have a $2 million-dollar house under this roof. If I had to give advice to anyone doing a green roof, my advice would be: Don’t cut corners.”

TEAM

Architect:  Harlan Pedersen AIA, Orcas, Washington

General Contractor: Terra Firma NW LLC, Eastsound, Washington, www.tfnwllc.com

Roofing Contractor: All Weather Rooftop Solutions, Everett, Washington, www.allweatherroof.net

MATERIALS

Extensive Green Roof System: XeroFlor XF + GM Assembly, XeroFlor North America, www.xeroflornorthamerica.com

Roof Membrane: 60-mil PVC, Versico Roofing Systems, www.versico.com

Cover Board: DensDeck Prime, Georgia-Pacific, www.densdeck.com

Skylight: CrystaLite, www.crystaliteinc.com

Daylighting: Solatube, www.solatube.com

Roof Drains: SpeedTite roof drains, OMG Roofing Products, www.omgroofing.com

Back to the Future

As the calendar flips to mark the start of a new year, it is traditionally a good time to take a step back and contemplate the future. This often means focusing on setting goals — both for yourself and for your business. 

That topic must have been top of mind for many of the authors who contributed to this issue, as the articles can serve as a road map when planning for the year ahead. 

This issue is chock full of great business management advice, beginning with personnel. In her column, business consultant Diane Helbig urges business owners to think of their business like a football team, making sure the right people are in the right positions. 

Once the lineup is set, the team needs systems in place to guarantee success. Caroline Trautman points out that proper record-keeping procedures can be the key to prevailing in a dispute, and she offers tips on procedures to safeguard your company. 

Success also hinges on finding new business, so marketing is always essential. Heidi J. Ellsworth and Karen L. Edwards detail the importance of developing an overall marketing plan — and outline ways to get started. 

Others tackled the task of identifying potential problems facing the industry. Jared Blum believes Congress and extreme weather will pose the biggest challenges to the roofing industry in 2019. Tom Hutchinson looks at roof failures in new construction using metal studs, while Justin Koscher points to more robust building codes as a valuable tool to protect communities from severe weather events — and help them bounce back. Trent Cotney explores the jobsite of the future — which is already here, in the form of high-tech tools including geofencing, building information modeling (BIM) and smart contracts. The same technology that helps people count their steps can now help companies determine who is on the jobsite, record their work, calculate their pay and automatically trigger the next task to be performed. It’s a Brave New World. 

There will be lots of new technology to explore at this year’s International Roofing Expo in Nashville, and I hope to see you there. It’s a great place to network and hone the strategies you are working on to help improve your business. 

There might not be any products there to help me with my annual goal to lose some weight, but at least I have Josie the Wonder Dog to make sure I get around the block a few times every day.

Here’s wishing that 2019 brings you much happiness and success. 

Talented Team Helps School District Get the Most Out of Its Roof Assets

Roofs in the Milwaukee School District are inspected annually and undergo a five-year cyclic maintenance program. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corporation

When Dennis Fula took over the roofing shop for the Milwaukee Public School District more than 20 years ago, many of the school’s roofs were failing, and some buildings were in danger of being condemned. He reached out to a manufacturer to help him institute a program to inspect and prioritize roof repairs and replacements — and set up specifications to ensure the roofs he installed would last longer and need fewer repairs. 

Today, Dennis Fula’s son, Ryan Fula, is now in charge of the roofing shop at Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), and he’s realizing the benefits of the program his father helped set up more than two decades ago. 

The Milwaukee Public Schools facilities management team includes (from left) John Linn, MPS Manager of Design and Construction; Dennis Fula, the previous crew leader of the MPS roofing shop; and Ryan Fula, the current crew leader. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corporation

According to Ryan Fula, his father teamed up with Dan Dalle Nogare, an independent representative of Atlas Roofing Corporation, to address the school district’s roofing issues some 23 years ago. The pair convinced the school system to adopt a comprehensive program to evaluate and maintain the district’s roofs. A key part of the plan was the implementation of theAtlas Roofing Corporation Certified Drainage Program (CDP), a low-slope tapered insulation design service that focuses on eliminating ponding water on a roof’s surface to extend the service life of the system. 

“Atlas Roofing came in and did a presentation on how they can save money in the long run working with Milwaukee Public Schools by offering the Certified Drainage Program,” Ryan Fula recalls. “So, we decided to take a shot at it and see how it might work out.” 

When it is time for a roof replacement, the specifications call for using tapered insulation designed by the team at Atlas Roofing’s Certified Drainage Program to ensure proper drainage. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corporation

According to Fula, the results over the last two decades have been impressive. “It’s been working out great ever since,” he says. “It helps us with the budget, it’s paying off now, and it will continue to pay off into the future.”

The program has been embraced by the school district, the roof system manufacturer, and the contractors who work on the projects. Ryan Fula and others currently involved with the program — most of whom represent the second generation of employees at their companies working under the arrangement — shared their insights on how the program works and why it’s effective. All of them cited it as a role model for other school districts across the country to follow. 

The School District

According to Ryan Fula, Milwaukee Public Schools encompasses more than 160 buildings with approximately 9 million square feet of roofing. The first priority of Fula and his roofing team is to fix and repair leaks, but their overall strategy involves taking a long-term approach to managing roof assets. The MPS roofing crew conducts annual inspections of each roof, and crew members clean up debris and check for problems. Every summer, the team conducts a five-year cyclic review, which includes routine maintenance, repairs, cleaning roofs and sometimes applying an aluminum roof coating. After 25 years of service, each roof is fully evaluated.

“We’re all about planning for the future and preventative maintenance,” Fula says. Most of the roofs in the school district are BUR or modified bitumen systems. “We like to keep our roofs smooth,” Fula notes. “As a rule, we don’t like gravel or ballast. The reason why is we only have four employees, and with the amount of square footage we have we don’t have time to spud or remove ballast.” 

The roof on the 88thSt. School was replaced with a modified bitumen system utilizing plan tapered insulation with a four-way slope. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corporation

Each year, Fula goes over his list and determines which roofs need to be repaired or replaced. When a building needs a full roof replacement, the process works like this: The Atlas representative visits the project, meets with Fula, and takes field measurements. The CDP team puts together a budget and preliminary plan, and the project is sent out for bid. Once the job is awarded, the contractor chosen removes the existing roof system and installs a temporary roof to keep the building watertight. The rep then conducts a detailed auto-level survey that maps out the entire deck, recording any deck deflection and high and low areas. Then the team at CDP comes up with a tapered insulation plan to ensure proper drainage.

Fula is involved at every stage of the process and serves as the construction liaison to the administrators and teachers at the school. “I work directly with the schools and the construction contractor from start to finish as the roofing work takes place,” Fula says. “I’ll be the inspector on the job. I’m there on a daily basis. Our biggest priority is to make sure that we don’t disrupt the school.” 

The Rep

One of the first people Fula contacts when it’s time for a roof replacement is Brett Kaehler, his Atlas representative. Kaehler works at Adroit Marketing Inc., headquartered in Slinger, Wisconsin, which has represented Atlas since 1988. Working alongside Dan Dalle Nogare, who helped launch the program, Kaehler has worked on more than 20 projects with MPS.

Consultation typically begins in the budgeting stage. “If a roof needs a full replacement, they would already have plans for that roof, so we would go out and field measure the roof to verify the overall measurements, noting any penetrations or drains,” Kaehler says. “We field verify everything and send that report down to our tapered team in Atlanta.” 

Six contractors are approved to bid on MPS projects, and they receive the preliminary roof plans and scope of work to help them prepare their bids. Once the job is awarded, the tear-off process begins. After the tear-off is complete and a temporary roof is installed, Kaehler meets with Fula to conduct the auto-level survey of the roof. “We grid out the roof in either 12-foot or 8-foot sections,” Kaehler explains. “We shoot heights in each individual quadrant. If there are areas of concern with low spots, we might even tighten it up to a 6-foot or 4-foot grid. We take pictures and include those with the heights in our report to CDP.” 

The reports are turned around very quickly, notes Kaehler; the final plans are usually received within two days. The tapered insulation plan is logical and easy to follow, even for a new contractor, according to Kaehler. “It’s like a puzzle,” he says. “We give you the layout and tell you where to place each puzzle piece. It’s pretty cut and dried. There is minimal waste. We try to keep it as simple as possible.”

Every member of the team has the same end goal in mind. “At the end of the day, we want a perfectly pitched roof for Milwaukee Public Schools for their longevity,” Kaehler says. “We want the contractor’s name to be well represented. We want Atlas Roofing’s name to be well represented. It’s a complex process, but we have it so fine-tuned it doesn’t seem so complex. We all know it and understand it very well. There are a lot of moving parts, but it moves very smoothly. It’s a well-oiled machine.” 

Kaehler commends Milwaukee Public Schools for their proactive approach. “They do a great job with preventative maintenance,” he says. “Sometimes with an owner, a roof will be out of sight, out of mind — they won’t look at it until it is leaking. Milwaukee Public Schools doesn’t look at it that way. If something does come up, they nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem.”

Kaehler monitors the project through completion and conducts a final inspection. “I’m on the site regularly,” he says. “We do a roof inspection to make sure everything is draining properly, preferably after a good rain to ensure there is no ponding water.”

The Tapered Design Team

Shaun Kerschen is the director of Private Label and Tapered Services for Atlas Roofing, based in Atlanta, Georgia. He joined the company in 2002 and began designing tapered polyiso insulation systems for commercial projects in 2003. Some of his first projects were for the Certified Drainage Programon MPS buildings. He’s since been promoted to oversee the tapered insulation design team, which has four full-time designers, including Jennifer Tyree, who has handled MPS projects since 2008. “We review the plan sets and work up quotes for tapered insulation systems,” Kerschen notes. “After the project is sent out for bid and the job is awarded, we work up shop drawings and installation plans. The material is delivered to the jobsite and installed by the contractor.”

Measuring the actual roof deck is critical, notes Kerschen, as there can be surprises that emerge as the tear-off is executed, especially on older buildings. “Over the last 16 years I’ve seen some pretty crazy things,” he says. “On one section of roof that had been involved in several additions over the years, we found five different deck heights. We had to fill in several sections with insulation before we could even begin to install the taper.”

The tapered insulation plan has some typical design requirements. “As part of the certification process, we agree to provide a tapered insulation system to provide positive drainage and void substantial ponding water within 24 hours,” says Kerschen. “The system has to be designed with four-way slope. We do not allow two-way slope with saddles or crickets, except in very unusual circumstances. The minimum requirement is a 3/16 inch per foot slope; that allows us to correct a lot of issues. In some cases, we will require 1/4 inch per foot slope.”

Once the tear-off is executed, the final plan must be completed very quickly, according to Tyree, but the detailed reports and advance planning help speed the process. “The reps are my eyes in the field,” Tyree says. “They’ll identify the drains and anything that might be an issue. They’ll point out anything I need to know, such as height issues on windows, for example. Then I work up the plan. The biggest thing is to take meticulous notes, keep everything organized, and turn it around very quickly when the time comes.”

Everyone on the team knows their part in the process, notes Tyree. “The goal is putting on a good roof that lasts, with quality workmanship from certified contractors,” she says. “Our reps are out there, hands-on, from the very beginning. They check how the roof performs after a rain. We provide more peace of mind for the owner.” 

The Contractor

The program also makes life easier for the installing contractor, notes Doug Biggar, project manager for Langer Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc., a union-affiliated commercial roofing contractor headquartered in Milwaukee.Langer Roofing is one of the companies approved to work on MPS projects. Biggar took over as the point man on MPS projects after the retirement of Dave Novak a few years ago, and he is another admirer of the smooth-running system his predecessors put in place. 

“The biggest benefit of the Certified Drainage Program is that it provides a higher-quality product in the end,” Biggar says. “It’s a great team, and it also makes it easier when you are working with a more involved owner. If we are working over an occupied building, I don’t have to sit down and explain everything to the principal; that’s all handled by the MPS people. We have one point of contact, and it’s Ryan. Every day our foreman connects with Ryan at the beginning of the day and they go over the plan. Ryan lets the principals and the teachers know what’s going on. It makes our lives so much easier.” 

The plans from CDP ensure the quality and longevity of the system, and the communication of every member of the team saves the contractor time and minimizes confusion. “Ultimately, it’s a higher-quality product, and the process streamlines things,” Biggar explains. “When the roof is put on, we don’t have punch-list items, and we don’t have ponding water.” 

Biggar credits his company’s experience and union training as the keys to quality workmanship. “It’s a great team from top to bottom,” he says. “We’re a union shop, so we are all well trained. I have the ability to sell any type of system, any type of service work. We’re certified with every major manufacturer out there. It all boils down to the ability of our guys in the field and our equipment. We have a full-time safety director. There are a lot of years of experience in our project management team. We do things right around here.”

Investment Pays Off

According to Fula, the investment in the roof asset management program is paying big dividends. The team effort helps ensure the roofs meet their maximum life cycle while minimizing emergency repairs. Fula’s advice for other school districts is to determine the full life-cycle cost of a roof system — not just the initial cost. 

“We are making the investment up front,” he says. “When these roofs are coming around to be replaced, we are completely ripping them off down to the deck. We’re installing a vapor barrier. Atlas will come in with the Certified Drainage Program, and they will guarantee that the water will be off our roof in 24 hours. So now we are energy efficient, we are up to code, but we also have the guarantee that the water is gone. If we do have a leak, we won’t have standing water there to cause further damage to the system.”

“Ponding water is the number one cause of problems for low-slope roofs,” notes Fula, “so making sure the roofs have proper drainage is critical.” He has seen the proof with his own eyes. 

“Now, with the Certified Drainage Program in place, we are really able to see how the roofs are doing and how our investment is paying off there,” Fula says. “The roofs we designed and installed are lasting longer. In the past, just about every 25-year-old roof was put into our deferred maintenance program to be repaired or replaced. Now I’m looking at 20-year-old roofs, and they look brand new.”

Contractor Shows Versatility During Spectrum Field Restoration

Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, is home to the Philadelphia Phillies in spring training and its minor league affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. TarHeel Roofing replaced the main roof and restored and waterproofed the walls. Photo: TarHeel Corporation

TarHeel Corporation was founded as TarHeel Roofing in 1981. Headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, the company specializes in commercial work including roofing, waterproofing, cladding, damp proofing, exterior renovations, lightning protection and sheet metal. According to John Looney, president and owner of TarHeel Corporation, the company’s name was changed to better reflect its ability to work on the entire building envelope, including above- and below-grade waterproofing. 

When nearby Spectrum Field needed roofing and waterproofing work, Looney saw the project as a perfect opportunity to show off the company’s versatility. The stadium is home to the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training, and it also serves as the home field for the team’s minor league affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. “We’ve done a lot of sports complexes in the past,” notes Looney. 

TarHeel Roofing restored the roof two years ago, and this year the company waterproofed the walls. The scopes of work included cold-applied roofing, waterproofing, caulking, and glazing, as well as repairing the tie-ins to pedestrian deck areas. “There were a lot of little pieces here that were right in our wheelhouse,” Looney says. 

Roofs and Walls

When the stadium’s existing modified bitumen roof reached the end of its service life, the decision was made to restore it with Garland’s Energizer K Plus FR. “We used Garland’s Energizer system, a cold-applied system with polyester mesh and granule surfacing on it,” Looney notes. 

The roof was restored with Garland’s Energizer K Plus FR system, a cold-applied roofing restoration system with granular surfacing. Photo: The Garland Company Inc.

Some perimeter areas of the roof were removed and repaired after an infrared scan was used to detect any moisture, and then the entire roof surface was cleaned and primed. The fluid-applied system is installed in two coats with a polyester or fiberglass scrim sheet fully adhered into it. Immediately after the second coat, granules are broadcast over the entire surface. “The finished product is very good-looking,” says Looney. 

Work on the vertical surfaces began in September 2018. The complex features walls clad in an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS), as well as concrete and concrete masonry unit (CMU) walls. “The EIFS, concrete, and CMU walls each required a different application, but the basic scope of work is the same for each, with some variations,” Looney says. 

The walls were first cleaned and repaired. After the walls were pressure washed, crews repaired and replaced caulking at windows, doors and other penetrations. Cracks were filled using Garland’s Green-Lock Sealant XL, a polyether joint sealant with no VOCs. “We took care of cracks in the concrete and any breaks, including damage from baseballs hitting it,” Looney says. “Once the surface was repaired, we moved on the coating application.”

Crews applied Garland’s Tuff-Coat acrylic architectural wall coating. The coating can be applied with either a sprayer or rollers. Both methods were used on the project, but the majority of the work was done with rollers. The tan color was a crucial concern for the owners, and up-front testing ensured the tint would match up perfectly on the various substrates. “There was also some striping involved for aesthetics,” notes Looney. “We put on a band of a darker accent color.”

Crews from TarHeel Roofing cleaned and repaired the walls and waterproofed them with Garland’s Tuff-Coat acrylic architectural wall coating. Photo: TarHeel Corporation

The schedule was sometimes adjusted to accommodate concerts and other events. “The most unusual thing is the actual use of the building, obviously, being a baseball park with a lot of public access,” he says. “It takes a beating from all of the use and people there.”

Accessing some of the wall areas on the site was the biggest challenge on the project, according to Looney. “If you can picture the typical ballfield, you’ve got anything from ground-level vertical walls up to walls tucked behind seating up in the grandstand,” he explains. “Logistically, the challenge was getting access to all of the areas, extending from public concourses all the way up to the owner’s boxes and suites. A lot of that work was done from ground level, actually out on the field, reaching up with big Hi-Los that extended over two or three sections of seating.”

When figuring out the best approach, safety is always the primary concern. “Safety is a big part of any project, beginning with preparation and layout,” Looney says. “Once we were awarded the job, we weighed working from ladders, swing stages, and man lifts. In this project, we opted to do most of it from man lifts because of the safety concerns inherent in working from ladders, swing stages, or even scaffolding in some of these areas.” 

Major-league workmanship is the key to earning repeat business, says Looney. “We don’t do much advertising,” he says. “To us, that means every job has to be done well enough to be asked back. We pay a lot of attention to the details, including safety and the setup. To us, the finished product has to be great — that’s a given — but also the journey, from the start to the completion, is important as well. We do a lot of work on hospitals, health care areas, and industrial sites where us being in the way really isn’t an option. We are very familiar with working around the needs of businesses. So from a logistics and detail point of view, we are very sensitive to making sure the ride is as good as it can be.”

TEAM

Roofing and Waterproofing Contractor: TarHeel Corporation, St. Petersburg, Florida, www.tarheelcorp.com

MATERIALS 

Roof Restoration System: Energizer K Plus FR, The Garland Company Inc., www.garlandco.com

Wall Coating: Tuff-Coat, The Garland Company Inc.

Joint Sealant: Green-Lock Sealant XL, The Garland Company Inc.

Capped Skylight Conversion Kit

Skyco Skylights offers the Capped Conversion Kit, which converts old capless skylights to a more trusted capped system. With the kit, commercial roofers receive a universal fitting Polycarbonate dome, a custom-sized aluminum cap, and Tek Screw with EPDM gaskets.

According to the company, using a cap around the perimeter of the polycarbonate dome creates a leak-free seal and eliminates cracking. The custom-fitted aluminum cap is fastened to the skylight frame with Tek-Screws instead of drilling through the plastic dome. Penetrating the dome with screws is a major cause for cracking. Many times, installers will over-torque the screw, immediately cause the dome to crack. Drilling through the Conversion Kit’s aluminum cap into a steal frames makes it easy to drill without cracking. 

Accroding to the manufacturer, the average install time for two installers is 1-2 minutes per kit. Watch the install video here.

For more information, visit www.skycoskylights.com.

Wave-Inspired Canopies on Convention Center Pose Challenges

The Prince Edward Island Convention Centre features distinctive curved canopies inspired by its waterfront location. The roofs of the canopies were covered with a coating to match sections of the walls. Photos: IKO

When the Prince Edward Island Convention Centre was put out for public tender, Ashe Roofing jumped at the chance to work on the high-profile new construction project on the waterfront near the company’s headquarters in Charlottetown. 

Ashe Roofing has been in business for 27 years, specializing in commercial and industrial low-slope roof systems. When their bid was selected, the company got ready to install the roof systems for the structure’s 42,000-square-foot main roof, as well as 10,000 square feet of canopies. 

A two-ply, torch-applied modified bitumen system from IKO was specified for the main roof. According to Boyd Corcoran, general manager of Ashe Roofing, the system was chosen for its durability and its ability to withstand the areas tough winter weather. “It suits our climate,” he notes. “It can stand up to snow and ice dropping from higher roof sections to lower ones.” 

Photos: IKO

The building’s distinctly shaped canopies would be visible from the ground, and the architect insisted the canopy roofs match the EIFS wall color. Initially, a tan single-ply roof membrane was specified for the canopy roofs, but the schedule dictated that construction took place during the winter months, so the decision was made to use the same modified bitumen system used on the main roof. A smooth surface APP cap sheet was used so that the proper color could be attained using an elastomeric roof coating application.

The Installation

The first phase of the project included setting up safety systems. “We used a railing system, and when we were doing the perimeter work, we had to tie off with a personal fall arrest system outside the rails,” Corcoran notes. 

Material was loaded with a telescopic fork lift. Work on the main roof began with installing the vapor barrier, which was covered with Trufoam EPS insulation and 1/4-inch protection board. The system was topped with IKO’s Torchflex TP 180 FF base sheet and finished with the Torchflex TP 250 cap sheet in Frostone Grey. 

The main roof was installed in sections. Crews mechanically installed as much insulation and cover board as they could each day, and each section was topped off with the base sheet. “We’d make sure each section was watertight, and we kept going, one section at a time.”

The cap sheet was installed after all of the roof sections were completed. The roof was installed over both metal and concrete decking. Portions of work over the concrete deck needed special care, as the area was designed to accommodate future expansion. “We could not use any adhesive,” Corcoran explains. “They didn’t want anything on the cement at the end of the day, foreseeing a time in the future when they might take the roof off and use that roof deck as a floor when they added hotel rooms.”

Corcoran cited mechanically fastening these sections as the biggest challenge on the project. “We also had to install a tapered system on the whole thing because it was flat,” he notes. “We ended up with a 10-inch base layer and then the tapered insulation, and had to drill an inch and a half into the cement, so it was hard to find bits long enough to do the job. It was pretty slow going.” 

After the main roof was dried in, crews tackled the canopies, which were made of wood. “There are wavy-style canopies on two sides, and there is a big canopy that goes up at a bit of an angle over the water,” Corcoran explains. “In some sections of the canopies, the flashing had to be cut into 4-foot sections because of the curves. We put a restorative coating on top of the canopies to make sure the color matched the walls. The coating was applied with rollers.”

The job went smoothly and finished on schedule, notes Corcoran, who credits his experienced crews for the orderly progress at the jobsite. “Installing the system on the uphill and downhill portions of the canopies posed a little bit of a challenge, but we have guys that have been installing these systems for 20-plus years,” he says. “They get pretty good at it.” 

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Ashe Roofing, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, www.asheroofing.com

General Contractor: Brighton Construction, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, www.brightonconstruction.ca

Architect: Chandler Architecture, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, http://wcarch.com

MATERIALS 

Roof Membrane: Torchflex TP 180 FF base sheet, Torchflex TP 250 Frostone Grey cap sheet, IKO, www.iko.com

Cover Board: Protectoboard, IKO

Insulation: Trufoam EPS, IKO

Vapor Barrier: MVP Vapour Barrier, IKO 

At the Ace Hotel, Versatile Rooftop Terraces Capture the Imagination

Located in Chicago’s Fulton Market Historic District, the Ace Hotel features several vegetative roofs and a rooftop bar. Photos: Scott Shigley for site design group ltd.

The Ace Hotel is located in Chicago’s Fulton Market Historic District. It features 159 guestrooms and amenities including rooftop event spaces with stunning views of the city. The complex features several vegetative roofs, including a large fifth-floor terrace and a seventh-floor rooftop bar. The fifth-floor terrace incorporates a sculpture that visitors can climb on and areas that can easily adapt to host a variety of events, from corporate meetings to yoga classes.

The team at site design group ltd., the Chicago landscape architect on the project, worked closely with the lead architect, GREC Architects, and the Ace Hotel team to determine the key design goals for the rooftop spaces. Hana Ishikawa, design principal at site design group, notes the client was looking for an understated design. “In this project, what they really wanted was a prairie that kind of got left on the roof,” she says “So, that’s where the project got started.”

The fifth-floor terrace incorporates a sculpture created by artist Jonathan Nesci that visitors can climb on. An area topped with pavers is used to host a variety of events. Photos: Scott Shigley for site design group ltd.

On the fifth-floor terrace, the materials and plants chosen are meant to evoke a natural prairie landscape, while a section topped with pavers serves as a versatile event space. “We were really focused on creating a space that was super flexible,” Ishikawa says. “You’ll notice there’s a really large pavement area in the front, and they hold all kinds of interesting events there. That’s used pretty frequently, whether it be yoga or the little markets they hold up there. One of the primary functions we needed was a lot of flexibility, and that area works well for that.”

Other roof sections that were not open to the public had different needs. It took a talented team of design, manufacturing and construction professionals to turn the vision for the hotel’s rooftop spaces into reality — and provide the single-source warranty the architect and owner desired. 

A Versatile Roof System

The roof system specified for every roof level was a variation of Hydrotech’s protected membrane roof (PMR) assembly. According to Dennis Yanez, American Hydrotech’s national marketing manager, the foundation of the PMR assembly consists of Hydrotech’s Monolithic Membrane 6125, a hot fluid-applied rubberized asphalt membrane, which is applied directly to the deck and topped with Dow Styrofoam insulation. The system can then incorporate a variety of options including pavers, ballast, and extensive and intensive roof gardens. “The basics — the roofing/waterproofing membrane and the Dow Styrofoam — don’t change,” Yanez says. “One of the advantages of this system is once you apply the membrane and insulation in the field, you can mix and match all of these options and you aren’t changing the integrity of keeping that structure watertight.” 

Kevin Serena, Hydrotech’s garden roofing technical sales coordinator for the central region, worked with the building owner and design team to select the products and systems for each rooftop section. 

The materials and plants chosen for the roof terrace are meant to evoke a prairie landscape, with a trail leading to seating areas. Photos: Scott Shigley for site design group ltd.

“They have a few different roof levels, and there was a different design intent for each area,” Serena says. “There are a few upper roofs that only the occupants of adjacent buildings will see, so what they wanted there was low-maintenance vegetation with good coverage. They went with a sedum mat material. It’s pre-grown outside for over a year, so it’s a very hardy material, and once it becomes established it needs little to no maintenance. That was a goal of theirs for those upper roofs since not a lot of people would be accessing those areas.”

For the large podium deck that was open to the public, the owners wanted to add more interesting vegetation along with other features. “They integrated stone walkways, and they used a more expansive plant palette,” Serena notes. “They used the same sedum carpet as a base planting, and then added some different perennials and grasses throughout the mat to give it some vertical interest and add some biodiversity to the roof.”

Serena also worked closely with the roof system installer, Bennett & Brosseau Roofing Inc., of Romeoville, Illinois, an authorized Hydrotech applicator. “Bennett and Brosseau is one of the best contractors in the area,” Serena says. “They have taken a real interest in doing not only the membrane but all the way up through the growing media and vegetation. They are really into doing the green roof, so they are exciting to work with. They really like doing this type of work, and they do a great job.”

The Installation

Bennett & Brosseau Roofing installed all of the roof systems on the project, as well as the material for the garden roofs. The company also fabricated and installed four custom colors of sheet metal on the project. 

“We had grade-level to roof-level waterproofing on this project,” notes Jim Brosseau, CEO and owner of Bennett & Brosseau Roofing. “On the grade level, we installed pavers and drainage components. We also planted plants and trees in the planters on the plaza and at the grade level as well.”

Photos: Scott Shigley for site design group ltd.

The hotel was constructed at the site of a former cheese-making factory in the Fulton Market District. A part of the existing building was retained, including a wall with a historic mural, but the majority of the project was new construction with a concrete roof deck. “It was in a tight area where access was very limited at the jobsite,” Brosseau notes. “All of the roofs were new, but the owner wanted to tie into an existing wall for historical value.”

Bennett & Brosseau Roofing worked closely with Hydrotech to coordinate material deliveries, and access to the jobsite was eased by a couple of fortuitous events. “One of our vendors actually had some property behind the jobsite, so we were able to stage some material there,” Brosseau recalls. “They also closed the street for some work at a building across the street, so we took advantage of that and were able to stage some material on the street and lift it up with our hoists.” 

Elevators did not reach every level, complicating the logistics. “Safety was a challenge,” Brosseau says. “They had elevators at certain levels, but the rest we had to stage a second time for a double hoist. We had to have certified riggers and an approved lift plan. Every pallet is marked, and Hydrotech does an excellent job packaging material, so that helps the process.” 

Crews installed fall-protection barriers, which included the company’s own engineered bracket system with two-by-fours, as well as a Garlock safety rail system. Roofing work began on the penthouse roofs and the tops of the elevator shafts. “All of the roofs received Hydrotech’s hot fluid-applied rubber,” says Brosseau. 

Photos: Scott Shigley for site design group ltd.

The membrane is installed in two coats. The first coat is 90 mils with fabric reinforcement on top. The second coat is 125 mils, for a total of 215 mils. The hot rubberized asphalt, which is heated to 350-375 degrees, and cools as a solid, forming a monolithic membrane. “The membrane is adhered directly to the deck, and it forms one contiguous layer from parapet to parapet,” Yanez says. “They basically make a bathtub up on top of that roof, and then with all of the other design elements, you can do structural construction on top of the Styrofoam. It’s a much simpler, easier system, and the reality is there are fewer opportunities for it to fail because it’s a very simplistic approach.”

“Hydrotech’s system is easy to work with,” Brosseau notes. “The liquid is a very good product to work with on tough details. Another big advantage of the Hydrotech system, especially in this case, is that it isn’t temperature sensitive.”

Living Roofs

Sections of the roof with limited access were topped with an extensive vegetative system featuring Hydrotech’s InstaGreen sedum mat. River rock was applied as a perimeter border. “We’d get them watertight, and then we’d come back and install the garden systems after the other trades were done on the roof,” Brosseau explains. 

On the fifth-floor terrace, Bennett & Brosseauinstalled pavers, wood steppers and wood benches made from reclaimed Robinia. “We put down granite for pathways,” Brosseaunotes. “We had ballast, intensive garden, extensive garden, pavers, logs and the granite walkway. On Level 5, we had a lot going on.”

The material changes and the ground changes were designed to represent an actual prairie, according to Ishikawa. “There is a little trail that goes off and creates a little circle of seating,” she notes. 

Native grasses were chosen to provide visual interest and survive Chicago’s tough winters. These plants were plugged into the sedum mat to ensure the living roof would have complete coverage at the outset. “That was important to us so that the area wouldn’t be trampled while the native grasses and flora were emerging,” says Ishikawa.

Brosseau credits the support of the manufacturer before and during the project as the key to navigating all of the many details. “We regularly consult with Hydrotech’s technical department on non-standard details,” he says. “We’ll brainstorm to determine what the best solution is. There is also a value beyond that, and that is it helps the owner and the general contractor to see Hydrotech come out and recommend different ways to attack a problem.”

Bennett & Brosseau also installed edge metal, beam wraps, expansion joints, scuppers and downspouts. “The sheet metal was probably the most difficult part of it,” Brosseau says, “We custom fabricated everything in our shop. No two details were the same. For the bar area on Level 7, we fabricated a stainless-steel bar top for them as well.” 

It’s a Jungle Gym Out There

Crowning the fifth-floor roof area is a Nesci dome, a climbable sculpture created by artist Jonathan Nesci that has been likened to an “adult jungle gym.” According to Ishikawa, the blue metal design was inspired in part by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Dome in Chicago’s Cultural Center. “That one is an absolutely gorgeous Tiffany Dome with mosaic tile and glass,” Ishikawa notes. “This one is about the exact size and shape, so it’s kind of a reference of that cultural institution on top of the Ace Hotel. It’s meant to be a climbable, playful structure.”

“This roof is really exciting to us because it’s a very playful design,” Ishikawa continues. “Our firm in general believes that playful design also makes really loved landscapes. We were very excited to work on that part of it.”

Yanez points to the versatility and durability of the roof system as the key to a successful project that provides a long service life and the peace of mind of a single-source warranty. “We are happy to be able to give the market what it wants, and a lot of that hinges on the design creativity and pushing the envelope that the architects do,” he says, “We are very good at adapting to that and offering them a rock-solid assembly that, if applied correctly, should last the lifetime of that structure.”

TEAM

Lead Architect: GREC Architects, Chicago, Illinois, http://grecstudio.com

Landscape Architect: site design group ltd., Chicago, Illinois, www.site-design.com

General Contractor: Power Construction Company, Chicago, Illinois, www.powerconstruction.net

Roofing and Waterproofing Contractor: Bennett & Brosseau Roofing Inc., Romeoville, Illinois, www.bennettandbrosseau.com

MATERIALS

Roof Membrane: Monolithic Membrane 6125-EV, Hydrotech, www.hydrotechusa.com

Membrane Reinforcement: Hydroflex RB II-Hydrotech

Insulation: 60 PSI Extruded Polystyrene Insulation, Hydrotech/Dow, www.dow.com

Drainage Material: GR30 Water Retention and System Filter, Hydrotech

Flashing: Flex-Flash MB Granulated Flashing, Hydrotech

Growth Media: Litetop Intensive Media, Hydrotech

Vegetation: InstaGreen Sedum Carpet, Hydrotech

How ’Bout That, Sports Fans!

Late autumn can be the most beautiful time of the year. It is also a great time to be a sports fan. College and pro football are in full swing, the baseball season culminates in the World Series, and basketball and hockey get underway. There are a lot of great sporting events to get lost in during the fall, which is a good thing, because it’s also election season, and there is nothing more depressing than campaign commercials.

But sports can be more than just a distraction from a brutal TV news cycle. Growing up, I thought of sports as a parallel educational track that taught me just as much as — if not more than — my formal schooling. Whether you are paying attention or not, you absorb a lot of life lessons on the athletic field.

You learn that hard work pays off. You learn the value of teamwork. You learn that you can do your absolute best and still lose. You learn that crazy, unexpected things happen. You learn that people get hurt. You learn that authority figures can be wrong — that coaches, umpires and referees make mistakes. You learn what nepotism is. You learn that last year’s bitter rival can be this year’s teammate — and not such a bad person, after all. You learn that every once in a while, David really does beat Goliath.

There’s a reason people use a lot of sports metaphors. It’s especially common in the business world, where the relationship between individual achievement and group success plays out every minute of every day.

I remember once consoling a co-worker who was passed up for a promotion she thought she deserved, which went instead to the boss’s son. I didn’t tell her that this was a lesson I learned at age 10, when I realized the coach’s son was going to start at second base, and I had to find another position. At age 13, I learned that the rule about missing football practice meant missing that week’s game somehow did not apply to our star running back. At age 36, I learned that the last-place men’s league softball team can beat the undefeated first-place team in the first round of the playoffs. I also learned that cheap champagne can give you a wicked hangover.

So, as fall turns to winter, root for your favorite team and savor every victory. Remember, as someone once said, life is the ultimate team sport. Now, dust yourself off and get back in there.