CentiMark Corp. Has a Culture of Giving

Although roofing is Canonsburg, Pa.-based CentiMark Corp.’s business, giving back to the community is the company’s commitment. Dedicated to helping people in need, CentiMark offers volunteer or financial support to hundreds of charities across North America that serve the hungry, homeless, at-risk children and families, domestic-violence victims, veterans and senior citizens.

CentiMark corporate associates deliver Back-to-School, Christmas, and Easter food and gifts to families in need and non-profit organizations.

CentiMark corporate associates deliver Back-to-School, Christmas, and Easter food and gifts to families in need and non-profit organizations.

Edward B. Dunlap, founder, chairman and CEO of the 46-year-old roofing company, leads by example in business and philanthropy. Since the early days of the company, Dunlap supported those in need in his community and encouraged volunteerism from his associates. “Giving back to the community has not shaped the CentiMark culture; it is the CentiMark culture,” says Timothy M. Dunlap, CentiMark’s president and chief operating officer. “The culture of giving back and volunteering has been ingrained in us for years. Now, as our company grows, we have more resources to help people.”

For example, in July 2014, 60 of CentiMark’s 80 offices throughout North America held food drives and made financial donations to food banks in their respective communities as part of National Roofing Week, sponsored by NRCA. They did the same thing last Thanksgiving, and they will do it again this Thanksgiving.

As part of their regular Friday routine, CentiMark corporate associates take turns delivering Meals on Wheels, a program near and dear to the heart of Edward Dunlap. “We are committed to the senior citizens in our community who need our help,” he states. Last summer, in the middle of a heat wave in western Pennsylvania, Dunlap instructed his associates to purchase and install air conditioners and fans in the homes of the seniors on the Meals on Wheels route who did not have the cooling appliances.

The company especially is committed to children and families. CentiMark associates teach Junior Achievement and host field trips at their corporate offices to show students how a business works. CentiMark Foundation Executive Director John Rudzik continues to teach Junior Achievement after 35 years. He remembers, “Even when I was a busy CFO and thought I didn’t have time to teach, Ed Dunlap told me I did have the time.” In addition, CentiMark associates regularly stuff backpacks for Blessings in a Backpack programs to provide meals for children on the weekends.

CentiMark participates in "Take Our Kids to Work Day".

CentiMark participates in “Take Our Kids to Work Day” to teach kids about how a business works.

Each year, CentiMark corporate associates deliver Back-to-School, Christmas, and Easter food and gifts to families in need and non-profit organizations. “When you give a child a book bag, school supplies, school clothes and shoes, you not only make their
day, but you reinforce the importance of education,” Edward Dunlap notes. “Plus the peer pressure is so great for children who do not have the latest book bag or school shoes. We try to help the parents who cannot afford all the back-to-school or holiday items.”

“Our non-profit partners tell us: ‘This was the first Easter basket that this child has received’, ” Rudzik adds. “Parents tell us: ‘There would not have been Christmas at our house without your help’. ”

“At CentiMark, we walk, run, bike and golf for charity; we teach school students; we deliver meals; we shop for winter coats; we place Christmas wreaths on veterans’ graves; we support people in need; and we give of our time,” Tim Dunlap says. “We take great pride in our success as a roofing company because our success enables us to increase our charitable and volunteer endeavors.”

How Is Your Fall-protection Plan?

Citing “record numbers” of unsafe roofing complaints in the Denver area during the first half of 2014, OSHA began its own outreach efforts and partnered with organizations, like the Colorado Roofing Association (CRA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), to make fall protection a priority among roofers and encourage consumers to hire roofing companies who do.

“In the past six months, we have received 63 complaints related to unsafe work practices, and this is the beginning of roofing season,” said David Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Englewood, Colo.

This emphasis contains two messages: the first to get consumers to hire contractors with a safety plan and good record; the second to prompt roofers to develop and follow safe work practices.


Among its efforts, OSHA emphasized that home and business owners should use the OSHA website, CRA and BBB to hire reputable roofing companies with a safe work record without safety violations. OSHA advises consumers ask probing questions of roofing contractor’s safety plans, such as:

    ▪▪ Are the installers your employees or subcontractors?
    ▪▪ Are they insured?
    ▪▪ What is their past work history?
    ▪▪ How will the project be managed?
    ▪▪ What kind of fall protection will be used?


For roofing contracting companies, OSHA hosted a 2014 National Safety Stand-Down week on June 2-6 that encouraged employers to stop work for one week to discuss fall hazards and safety measures.

At the end of June, the same OSHA Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota) announced it was going to spend extra energy enforcing safety in roofing following increased construction after a hailstorm.

“Falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds can be prevented by planning ahead, providing the right equipment for the job and by training everyone working on a project to use the equipment safely,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Billings, Mont.

These efforts demonstrate that roofing companies need to be prepared and committed to an effective fall-protection safety plan and be able to answer questions about it to prevent injuries and protect the company if an accident happens, as well as help win jobs if customers ask about the safety plan.


Considering the reasons for adhering to a comprehensive plan, take a moment and review your fall-protection procedures. This should be done annually, anyway.

Ideally, all potential hazards that could be encountered are eliminated or addressed through proper protection, work practices and training. Often, expertise, past experience or industry standards will point out these potential work hazards that need to be rectified.

According to information provided by OSHA’s outreach, a comprehensive fall-protection plan should include at least preventing falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolding. OSHA stresses the need to plan for safety, provide the correct equipment and ensure everyone is trained in safe work practices. Consider the following:

Employees need to know when to wear a harness and how to ensure it fits. The proper guardrails and lifelines need to be implemented and used. Employees need to inspect all fall-protection equipment before using it and be able to determine when it is no longer safe. Holes, open stairwells, openings and skylights must be securely covered or guarded.

Employees must know how to select the correct ladder and the proper way to safely use all ladders. Regardless of the type of ladder, users must maintain three points of contact; always face the ladder; and, without overreaching, secure the ladder on level footing; as well as never stand on the top step.

Extension ladders are not self-supporting and, therefore, need a stable structure and foundation to withstand the load. In addition, the area around the bottom and top of the ladder must have sufficient unobstructed space.

Plan to have an extension ladder that can hold at least four times the weight you intend to put on it. That includes any people and equipment and materials.

Also have a “competent person” visually inspect the ladder and secure the top of the ladder to a solid support. (A competent person is a technical term for someone who has the training and experience to know how to act safely and the authority to make a decision.)

Other safe work practices that should be followed include:

    ▪▪ Check the location of power lines before placing the ladder.
    ▪▪ Stay near the middle of the rungs while going up or down.
    ▪▪ Use barriers while on the ladder to keep traffic away, especially near doors and entryways.
    ▪▪ Only use the ladder for the purpose it was designed.

Basic scaffold safety incorporates using fully planked scaffolds and ensuring they are sturdy, plumb and level with all guardrails completed and with stable footing. The scaffold must be used properly and accessed through a properly provided route; users should not climb on cross braces or stand on guardrails. Ladders also can’t be used on top of a scaffold.

A competent person—someone with the experience to recognize hazards and the authority to fix them—must inspect the scaffold before use.


OSHA’s outreach is another example of it using incidents and complaints to focus attention on an industry. But it’s not just roofing contractors who are receiving increased attention.

In February, OSHA contacted communication-tower employers to remind them of their responsibility to train and monitor employee fall protection following 13 deaths in 2013 and four in the first weeks of 2014—a total higher than in the previous two years combined.

Ultimately, OSHA has reason to focus on particular industries, so it’s imperative you ensure your fall-protection program is effective.

Roofing Manufacturers and Contractors Embrace Recycling

In the early 2000s, as the green-building movement reached its tipping point, the roofing industry’s contributions to sustainability focused on increasing energy efficiency, improving long-term durability and addressing the heat-island effect. In the years since, significant strides have been made in all three of these areas for commercial and residential buildings.

In recent years, increasing attention has been given to the benefits and challenges of recycling roofing materials at the end of their useful life. This is no trivial task: Owens Corning estimates asphalt shingles alone comprise up to 5 percent of building-related landfill waste. This doesn’t take into account other roofing materials, including EPDM, thermoplastic PVC and metal.

Not surprisingly, rising removal costs, coupled with the growing demand in some areas of the country to legislate landfill content, are putting pressure on contractors and building owners to seek alternatives to traditional roof construction scrap and tear-off disposal methods.

In response, greater numbers of roofing manufacturers and contractors are driving strategies to avoid the landfill. A general review of emerging trends across the roofing industry suggests manufacturers and contractors increasingly are turning to recycling to steer these materials from the waste stream.

Steel is the most recycled material in building construction today. PHOTO: STEEL RECYCLING INSTITUTE

Steel is the most recycled material in building construction today. PHOTO: STEEL RECYCLING INSTITUTE


Metal roofing’s sustainable attributes are significant. Industry experts cite its ability to improve a building’s energy efficiency, and metal today contains anywhere from 25 to 95 percent recycled material.

On its website, the Chicago-based Metal Construction Association (MCA) encourages installing metal roofing directly over an existing roof, thus eliminating the need to dispose of the original materials. But when an older metal roof or new-construction debris must be removed from a site, contractors and owners in most regions of the country can quickly identify scrap yards that take metal.

“Steel is the most recycled material in building construction today,” says MCA Technical Director Scott Kriner. “There’s an infrastructure that supports it, and metal in general is virtually 100 percent recyclable.” Kriner notes MCA supports recycling as part of the metal industry’s overall commitment to environmental sustainability and transparency in business.


PVC has been used in roofing systems since the 1960s, and the post-consumer recycling of roof membranes began in North America in 1999—a nice symmetry when one considers roofs in terms of 30-year life cycles.

In general terms, the recycling of PVC roofing is a relatively straightforward process. The material is sliced into long strips, rolled up, lifted off the roof and transported to a recycling center. Recyclers run the PVC through a conveyor system, where fasteners and other metal objects are removed.

Initially, the recovered membrane was ground into powder for reuse in molded roof walkway pads. More recently, some manufacturers have been incorporating a granulated form into new PVC roofing membranes, exclusively on the backside to avoid aesthetic issues with color variations. The first installations of membrane produced with post-consumer recycled composition occurred in the mid-1990s. So far, its field performance has matched that of PVC roofing produced with virgin raw materials.

The Vinyl Institute, Alexandria, Va., says close to 1 billion pounds of vinyl are recycled at the postindustrial level yearly. “The vinyl industry has a history of supporting recycling,” the institute reports on its website, “and this effort continues as companies, alone and through their trade associations, expand existing programs and explore new opportunities to recover vinyl products at the end of their useful life.”


Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer is used extensively on low-slope commercial buildings. Yet even this durable synthetic rubber membrane must eventually be replaced, and today recycling is a viable option.

The removal process generally involves power-vacuuming off the stone ballast, where present, to expose the EPDM membrane below. The membrane can then be cut into manageable squares, which are folded and stacked on pallets, loaded onto a truck and transported for recycling. The recycler grinds it into crumbs or powder, depending on the end use. A growing number of recycling centers nationwide now handles EPDM.

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Construction Writing

I recently reconnected with an old friend. We’d been in touch via social media but we hadn’t had a chance to actually sit down in the same room and catch up for many years. As we were talking about our careers, she asked me whether I like writing about construction. I actually am asked this question quite often, and I always admit construction wasn’t what I had imagined myself writing about when I dreamt about a career in writing. However, I am always quick to say how much I love it. There are a couple reasons why:

First, I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world and hoped my career would allow me to give back to others. Construction writing does that. With each issue of the magazine and e-newsletter and post on the website, I am able to share innovative ideas that make buildings more energy efficient, help contractors find new ways of doing things and promote products that make everyone’s lives easier. I especially love when I hear someone completed one of his or her projects differently because of something that appeared in the magazine. For example, when Iain Fergusson, owner of Highland Roofing Co., Wilmington, N.C., first reached out to tell me about the Bermuda-style roofing project that became this issue’s cover story he shared the following with me:

    “You ran a series of articles a year or two back covering all aspects and types of metal roofing, including a section about traditional lead roofing. I had a custom builder at the time who wanted to use ‘something different’ than copper for 3,000 square feet of porches and dormers on a custom home. Having just read the article, I suggested lead and he liked it. We have just finished installing the 24-inch-wide flat lock and soldered lead panels. It’s very cool and different!”

Those of us who work on Roofing may not always know when an idea that appeared in the magazine is constructed somewhere in the country but I can tell you when we do hear about it, it makes for a very gratifying day!

Secondly, I have made a number of very special friends in this industry. I’ll admit I was a little intimidated when I attended my first construction trade shows and industry meetings many years ago. I assumed I was entering a “good ol’ boys club” where women weren’t readily welcomed. I was completely wrong. Everything I have learned about installing a roof, I’ve learned from industry professionals. I feel extremely lucky to work in an industry in which I look forward to trade shows and meetings because I know I’m going to see friends from all over the country. In fact, I’m excited about METALCON, which takes place Oct. 1-3 in Denver. Please say hello if you see my colleagues and me on the show floor.

Construction writing has been an extremely fulfilling career path. If given the choice again, I can’t think of anything I’d want to write about more.

Planning for Thermal Movement: An Essential Element of Copper Roofing Design

For centuries, copper has been used as a roofing material because of its ease of installation, adaptability to simple and unique designs, resistance to the elements and superior longevity. Copper’s warmth and beauty complements any style of building, from Gothic cathedrals to the most modern museums and private residences. Its naturally weathering surface, whether in a rich bronze tone or an elegant green patina, is a clear indication that the building owner will only accept the very best.

This detail indicates a method for terminating a copper roof at the eave. The fascia trim is bent to extend onto the roof deck to become an integral flashing apron nailed to the roof. The copper pan is secured to the apron lip to achieve vertical restraint. Horizontal movement of the copper roof sheet is accommodated by the loose-lock fold of the pan over the fascia lip. Click to view a larger version. IMAGE: <em>COPPER IN ARCHITECTURE–DESIGN HANDBOOK</em>

This detail indicates a method for terminating a copper roof at the eave. The fascia trim is bent to extend onto the roof deck to become an integral flashing apron nailed to the roof. The copper pan is secured to the apron lip to achieve vertical restraint. Horizontal movement of the copper roof sheet is accommodated by the loose-lock fold of the pan over the fascia lip. Click to view a larger version.

Unfortunately, long-term performance of even the best construction materials can be compromised if the system is not designed or installed properly. For architectural sheet-metal installations, movement that occurs with changes in temperature must be considered during the design process. All metals expand when heated and contract when cooled. While this process is well understood, far too many contractors ignore thermal movement during system design or installation. Ultimately, this can lead to failure of the roofing and flashing system, causing extreme damage to the building. The Copper in Architecture–Design Handbook, which is published by the Copper Development Association (CDA) and available online as a free download, provides examples of how to accommodate for thermal movement of copper systems.

Calculating for the potential thermal movement of sheet metal is easy. Simply multiply a metal’s coefficient of thermal expansion by the metal’s expected temperature change by the length of the piece. Remember: It’s not the air temperature we’re considering; it’s the temperature of the metal. Anyone who’s touched a metal roof or the top of their car in the summer knows it gets significantly hotter than the air!

An example based on a 10-footlong piece of copper:

  • 10 feet (typical flashing piece length) x 0.0000098 per degree F (copper’s coefficient of thermal expansion) x 200 degrees F (possible metal temperature change from coldest winter night to hottest summer day) x 12 inches per foot = 0.24 inch. In this case, the calculated movement is a little less than 1/4 inch.

Remember, the coefficient of thermal expansion depends on the type of metal you are using. Aluminum expands and contracts more than copper, and most steels move less. Series 300 alloy stainless steels are very similar to copper in movement, or expansion/ contraction rate. Naturally, temperature change is dependent on building location and exposure to the elements. Many professionals feel comfortable calculating the design movement with a temperature change in the 175 to 200 degree F range, but it’s the project architect or engineer’s responsibility to determine if this is adequate.

Modern rollforming equipment allows contractors and manufacturers to make very long panels, so potential total movement is even more significant.

Let’s investigate one type of common flashing design—in this case, at the eave, which is relatively simple but can easily be installed incorrectly:

  • Based on the previous formula, with roof panels that are 20-feet long and installed at a temperature between the hottest day and coldest night: 20 feet x 0.0000098 per degree F x 200 degrees F x 12 inches per foot = 0.47 inch.

Having one of the largest copper roofs in the country, the historic Kingswood High School, Cranford, Mich., recently underwent a massive $14 million roof-restoration project. The copper-clad roof is comprised of batten seams on the upper slopes, interior gutter with internal rainwater conductors, and standing- and flat-seam panels on the eaves. An embossed copper fascia and copper soffit panels complete the system. PHOTO: QUINN EVANS ARCHITECTS

Having one of the largest copper roofs in the country, the historic Kingswood High School, Cranford, Mich., recently underwent a massive $14 million roof-restoration project. The copper-clad roof is comprised of batten seams on the upper slopes, interior gutter with internal rainwater conductors, and standing- and flat-seam panels on the eaves. An embossed
copper fascia and copper soffit panels complete the system.

Because we’re installing mid-way in the temperature range and 0.47 inch is so close to 1/2 inch, dimension “A” can be 1/4 inch (one half the total potential movement). Naturally, the hem of the roof panel’s “loose lock” must coordinate with the length of the eave flashing to ensure the two are still engaged when the roof panels are fully expanded. While most contractors form eave flashings properly, some ignore the thermal movement gap “A” during installation, forcing panels to move fully onto the flashing. This eliminates the gap. When temperatures drop, the panels can’t contract, adding stress to the roofing system.

Through the years, countless thermal cycles and resulting stresses caused by expansion and contraction can take their toll. In the long run, something will fail. In some cases, work hardening of the metal can occur, causing it to crack or tear. In other cases, fasteners, such as those used to attach cleats, work back and forth, ultimately pulling them out of the substrate.

It’s easy, however, to avoid these problems. To ensure maximum performance of the roofing system, just follow the recommended design principles; understand how the different pieces of the system interact; and don’t cut corners. With a time-proven quality material like copper, proper workmanship and attention to detail can create a beautiful roof that could last the life of the building.

Learn More
For more information about architectural copper and roofing systems, visit the Copper Development Association’s website.

A Roofer Develops a Solar Solution for Ponding Water on Flat Roofs

The original Sentinel II XD Solar Roof Pump includes a rotatable 20-Watt solar panel.

The original Sentinel II XD Solar Roof Pump includes a rotatable 20-Watt solar panel.

When you say “flat roof”, many people cringe, thinking of stagnant ponding water, health concerns and damaging roof leaks. And it’s not unusual during very rainy seasons to hear about low-slope roofs collapsing under the weight of ponded water.

Auxiliary roof pumps and even solar roof pumps have been around for decades but can be unreliable. Nicholas Bryditzki, a licensed roofing contractor and certified infrared roof inspector, developed the Sentinel Solar Roof Pump because he wanted a more reliable option. “It’s not that I invented it; they already exist but none of them work,” he says. “I went to a premier solar engineer with the concept and said I want to make this thing ‘roofer-proof’.”

To Bryditzki, “roofer-proof” means the roof pump had to be very durable. Consequently, the Sentinel Solar Roof Pump is encased in spun aluminum that is powder coated with a DuPont coating to keep the patent-pending system cool. In addition, patent-pending cold-weather protection ensures the pump won’t freeze and burn out. To further protect the pump, a sensor detects when water needs to be drained, so the pump doesn’t run all the time; it uses a “siphon-effect”, per Bryditzki. The 20-Watt solar panel is large enough to recharge the battery.

The Sentinel II LP Solar Roof Pump is a stationary unit with an embedded solar panel.

The Sentinel II LP Solar Roof Pump is a stationary unit with an embedded solar panel.

“Roofers showed a little resistance to this until I showed them how to actually save a roof and service it until the owner was ready to re-pitch and re-deck or instead of installing expensive new in-roof drains,” Bryditzki adds. “That’s how it’s catching on right now.”

Currently, there are three Solar Roof Pump models available: the original Sentinel II XD Solar Roof Pump, which can be placed where it’s needed; the Sentinel II LP Solar Roof Pump, which is a stationary unit with an embedded solar panel; and Sentinel II XDR Solar Roof Pump, which features a removable solar panel that can be placed away from the pump. “We also developed a pan flashing; roofers install the pan in the roof, place the solar roof pump in the pan and, depending on the roof surface, it will help drain the roof down to virtually no water whatsoever,” Bryditzki adds.

The Sentinel II XDR Solar Roof Pump features a removable solar panel that can be placed away from the pump.

The Sentinel II XDR Solar Roof Pump features a removable solar panel that can be placed away from the pump.

Bryditzki is delighted by the Sentinel Solar Roof Pump’s success during the two years it has been available in the marketplace. He credits the success to the design of the roof pump itself. “The original prototype is still installed and running in the middle of New Mexico,” he says. “I was just out there last month and we tried to break it; we put mud, leaves and rocks in it and it was still draining.”

Learn More
Visit SolarRoofPumps.com.
Call (817) 771-5027.
Watch a Sentinel Solar Roof Pump video.

This “Roofers’ Choice” was determined by the product that received the most reader inquiries from the March/April issue’s “Materials & Gadgets” section.

PHOTOS: Nicholas Bryditzki

Fleet-management Technology Fuels Midwestern Roofer’s Growth

I established Roberts Roofing Co. Inc. in 1985 in a garage in St. Joseph, Mo. with a single truck and one lone employee. Since then, the company has rapidly grown into a premier roofing business in Northwest Missouri, operating a 30-truck fleet with 60 employees.

Roberts Roofing is a full-service roofing contracting firm, focusing on residential, commercial and industrial projects, including educational and government buildings and churches. It is a member of the National Roofing Contractors Association and Midwest Roofing Contractors Association and certified by GAF as a Master Elite Roofing Contractor.

Roberts Roofing’s fleet-tracking system monitors 30 trucks and has improved the business’ bottom line.

Roberts Roofing’s fleet- tracking system monitors 30 trucks and has improved the business’ bottom line.

The business is operated on the principles of quality work, expert craftsmanship, employee safety, honesty and professionalism. To better deliver on these promises for customers, my team and I knew it was important to improve efficiency and response time of crews in the field. We also knew a fleet-management system could help us achieve these goals, and, in looking for the best solution, we sought input from a few customers. After testing units recommended by our customers in a few of our vehicles, it became a no-brainer to equip the whole fleet.

A fleet-management solution was rolled out to our entire fleet in August 2012. What started as a useful vehicle- tracking tool quickly became something of much greater business value.

Having a sizable team of professional roofers, estimators and project managers on staff required knowing where they were at all times and how jobs were progressing. The fleet-management system has not only made progress and location of employees in the field more transparent, it also allowed us to better match payroll with actual time worked—a pitfall of payroll accounting for many construction companies. Additionally, we began to see a marked difference in fuel use, a decrease in the wear and tear of vehicles, better driving habits by staff and increased productivity.


To date, Roberts Roofing has decreased fuel spend by 30 percent, saving the business $2,000 to $3,000 monthly. An additional $24,000 to $36,000 annually pays off in a big way. Management also found there were less miles being put on trucks; the solution enabled smarter, more efficient routing and dispatching. Fewer miles driven means less need for unexpected maintenance and fewer trips to the tire store. In total, the business has saved about 100,000 miles, several sets of tires and countless oil changes.


In the hot summer months, idling can lead to skyrocketing fuel costs, and we noticed many drivers leaving the engines on for long periods of time. The fleet-management system offers alerts to notify us if one of our vehicles has been idling for a long period of time. When we receive an alert, someone in the office contacts the driver directly to bring it to his or her attention and ensure the engine is turned off in a timely manner.


Because the fleet-management solution monitors driver behavior, such as excessive and harsh braking and acceleration and speeding, which can cause accidents, my team and I have launched a safety rewards program that compensates employees with an end-of-year bonus for responsible driving. Employees are evaluated based on their work attendance; efficiency at the job site; and a clean driving record free of violations, accidents and speeding tickets. Typically, 95 percent of employees meet these standards. There also is a corrective action program in place to address the occasional mistakes. Not only does this ensure that we as a company are being represented in the most professional manner to customers and the public, but it rewards staff for good behavior, increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty.


Another core benefit of our fleet-management solution is its ability to enable the staff to make more service calls per day. Between employees completing jobs in a timely and efficient manner and smarter routing to and from sites, Roberts Roofing has been able to add at least two additional projects per day. Depending on the type of job, this can mean an additional $200 for a repair or the sale of a more expensive replacement. This means increased revenue and more satisfied customers.

We have recommended this technology to a lot of other contractors the past two years and wonder how we did business without it before. It’s easy to use, dependable and accurate.

Learn More
Roberts Roofing utilizes Fleetmatics GPS fleet tracking and management solution.

A Minneapolis Neighborhood Plans to Bring Solar, Vegetation and Bees to its Rooftops

As part of its commitment to maintain and enhance the physical, social and economic environment of its Minneapolis neighborhood, the Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA) has begun a program in which it is matching the owners of buildings with low-slope roofs to solar and green roof providers, as well as beekeepers.

The Southeast Como neighborhood is surrounded by industrial buildings and essentially is the last of Minneapolis’ industrial hub. A community resident who considered the industrial buildings’ rooftops wasted but valuable space approached SECIA about partnering with Minnesota Community Solar. The for-profit organization builds large solar arrays in locations ideal for generating solar power—like roofs—and works with utilities so any Minnesota ratepayer can have access to solar energy. While SECIA’s Executive Director Ricardo McCurley was researching that option, he met a green-roof consultant who is part of the Minnesota Green Roofs Council, a nonprofit that supports green roofs in the state. In addition, Minneapolis recently eliminated permit requirements to maintain beehives in the city above 1 story.

“It occurred to me we should just play matchmaker,” McCurley says. “Let’s get a bunch of options on the table and match them to local property owners.”

After receiving a $3,000 grant from Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams, an organization that connects individuals and their communities to resources that will help them implement community-based clean-energy projects, SECIA began surveying the neighborhood. “We have an intern who currently is looking at aerial images of roofs and doing rough estimates of square footage, as well as collecting contact information for building owners,” McCurley notes. “Then we’ll be contacting all these property owners in person and via telephone and asking them questions about their flat roofs, like ‘Are you planning to reroof any time soon? How is the stormwater management on your property?’”

If the property owners show interest in learning more about sustainable options for their rooftops, SECIA will invite them to a luncheon that McCurley compares to speed dating. “We’ll have different providers of the various technologies at the luncheon, so they can talk about options,” he says. “Then if we make a match, we’re going to help the property owner through the process of finding grants to make it more affordable for them.”

McCurley thinks the program will be a success if just one property owner opts to install solar panels, a green roof or beehives. But he hopes for many installations and to make more connections within the neighborhood to expand how roofs are used. “We’re big into urban agriculture in the neighborhood,” McCurley explains. “Wouldn’t it be cool if one of the green roofs connects with a farmer who would lease the green-roof space?”

Although the program currently is in its infancy, McCurley is certain it will increase Southeast Como residents’ awareness about the benefits of green roofs, solar arrays, bees and even trees. “We’re dealing with the emerald ash borer here in the Twin Cities, particularly in our neighborhood. We’re already losing a lot of our tree canopy,” he says. “If our residents’ buildings were shaded by a beautiful ash tree and now they’re not, they’re going to feel that in HVAC costs. So what are the options to make a building more efficient? This program provides many great options!”

Want to Be Involved?
If you’d like to assist in the Southeast Como Improvement Association’s mission to bring solar, vegetation and bees to its rooftops, email Rooftops@comogreenvillage.info, SEComo@secomo.org or call (612) 676-1731.

Coating a Roof? Don’t Forget Fire Ratings

Fire tests are one of the most important system tests for roof coatings, and it is essential when specifying and applying a coating over an existing roof in a maintenance or repair setting to ensure the roof system’s fire rating is not negatively affected.


The International Building Code (IBC), first published in 2000, brought together several regional codes into one central, national code and facilitated the acceleration of code adoptions across the U.S. Today, most of the U.S. follows a statewide adoption process for the IBC for Roof Assemblies and Rooftop Structures; some areas do not, which can make code enforcement tricky. Some areas still follow local adoption and may refer to older versions of the code instead of the most current 2012 IBC.

According to the most recent IBC, roof assemblies and coverings are divided into classes A, B, C or “Nonclassified” and are tested in accordance with UL 790 or ASTM E 108. These tests measure the spread of flame, recording whether the material you put on the roof will cause the flame to spread too far on the roof. The UL 790 inaugurated modern fire tests about 100 years ago and, as such, incorporates a century of data and history about roof coatings that may broaden the reach of what certifications the test provides.

“Many see UL 790 as the preferred fire test,” notes Steve Heinje, technical service manager with Quest Construction Products LLC. “It is interesting to note the ASTM E 108 test is deemed by the code requirements an equivalent test.” The ASTM E 108 is a consensus version of UL 790 and can be run by any qualified and accredited test laboratory. Many test laboratories, such as FM Approvals, conduct testing using ASTM E 108.


The roof coating is just one component in the fire rating of a roof assembly; other components include slope, the coating substrate, whether the roof deck is combustible and whether the roof is insulated. These factors, taken together, will determine the roof system’s fire rating.

Although there are exceptions, most fire ratings are done for slopes of under 3/4 inch for commercial roofs, and coatings tend to be recommended for application to a roof with 2 inches or less slope. Slope is an important factor to consider because special coatings may be needed for high slope transitions.

The substrate or membrane type is another vital component of fire testing because the substrate to which the coating is applied could affect the flammability of the roof system. When coating over an existing roof, one should note what existing roofing substrate is being coated over—whether it’s BUR, mod bit, concrete, metal, asphalt or another type of substrate.

Most coatings are tested over noncombustible decks, but additional and challenging tests are required for the use of combustible decks. It is much more difficult to achieve a Class A rating when covering a wood deck.

Again, it is important to note the materials of the existing roof being coated because these components can affect the flammability of the roof system. Polymeric insulations often reduce the allowable slope for a given system.


Another significant consideration is that the coating is applied at the appropriate thickness and rate.

“One big thing out of the coating manufacturer’s control is that the applicator uses the recommended or test-required thickness and/or rate at the point of application,” points out Skip Leonard, technical services director with Henry Co. Proper application encompasses parameters, such as the final dry-film thickness, the use of granules or gravel, use of reinforcements and even the number of coats. Accounting for these details is an integral part of installing a rated system.

Once assembled, the roof covering will be granted a Class A, B or C rating by approved testing agencies, typically through UL 790 or ASTM E 108, depending on how effective the roof proves to be in terms of fire resistance. Rated coating solutions exist for just about any existing roof system recover or coating application and often can achieve a Class A rating.

Learn More
Visit the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association website to locate a roof-coating manufacturer who can help you choose a roof coating most appropriate for your roof system. For more information about roof-coating fire ratings, check out FM Approval’s RoofNav online database for up-to-date roofing-related information or the UL Online Certifications Directory.

OSHA’s Fall Protection Clarifications for Roofers

OSHA’s fall-protection regulations are easy to find (see OSHA 29 CFR, Subpart M, 1926.500 – 1926.503 and four appendixes). Understanding them is a bit more difficult because they apply to a variety of occupations, including roofing.

The following clarifications are OSHA’s responses to questions regarding fall-protection requirements and work practices affect roofers:


The “Holes” section of the regulation requires the use of fall protection— personal fall-arrest systems (PFAS), guardrails, safety nets, covers, etc.—when there is a hole in a work/walking surface. Because a roof is a work/walking surface, employees must be protected from falling through. OSHA concluded that immediately securing a cover over a cut hole is sufficient because the cover eliminates the fall hazard requiring fall protection. The rest of the environment may still require fall protection.


A supplier who delivers roofing material onto a roof must use all available fall protection, meaning a sufficient ladder or other means with a sturdy handhold. A supplier also must wear personal fall-protection equipment and connect to existing anchorage points when receiving and delivering materials on a roof.

If anchorage points do not exist for workers at the site, suppliers are not required to install anchorage points because they spend so little time at the job site. Anchorage points are the primary contractor’s responsibility, and it’s the supplier’s responsibility to use available fall protection.


A controlled access zone (CAZ) is a designated work area marked by a warning line that only authorized employees can cross to work next to an unprotected edge. This less-safe approach is explicitly reserved for leading-edge work (the changing unprotected side of a roof or floor as it is installed) and overhand brickwork.

Except for steep roofs (slopes greater than 4-inches vertical to 12-inches horizontal) and non-residential roofing, CAZs are an option if you can prove traditional fall protection is not possible or too dangerous. Just be prepared to justify in writing why other fall protection isn’t effective; identify all authorized employees; and investigate all accidents and near accidents.

Some examples where traditional fall protection fails:

    ▪▪ Safe anchors cannot be provided.
    ▪▪ Lifelines may entangle or mire in grout.
    ▪▪ Fall protection prevents completion of the work.
    ▪▪ Work-area configuration causes ineffective fall-arrest systems.

At the very least, the CAZ must include a safety monitoring system.


A safety monitor is a competent person responsible for recognizing and warning employees they are in danger of falling. The monitor counts as part of the fall-protection solution on low-slope roofs.

The following are fall-protection options on low-slope roofs:

    ▪▪ Guardrails
    ▪▪ Safety nets
    ▪▪ PFAS
    ▪▪ Warning lines and guardrails
    ▪▪ Warning lines and safety nets
    ▪▪ Warning lines and PFAS
    ▪▪ Warning lines and safety monitors
    ▪▪ Safety monitors on roofs 50-feet wide or less

The safety monitor must:

    ▪▪ Be competent to recognize fall hazards.
    ▪▪ Warn employees when it appears they are unaware of a fall hazard or are acting unsafely.
    ▪▪ Be on the same work/walking surface as monitored employees and be able to see them.
    ▪▪ Be close enough to talk to the employees.
    ▪▪ Not have any other responsibilities.
    ▪▪ Ensure employees follow warnings and directions.

Also, mechanical equipment can’t be in safety monitoring areas. Because these feasibility exceptions are only listed in specific categories (low-slope roof work, leading-edge work, precast concrete erection and residential construction), if a worker doesn’t fit those categories, such as HVAC installation, the worker must follow conventional fall protection. Alternative plans are generally for situations in which there isn’t a completed structure to attach anchor points; once anchor points are available, OSHA favors regular fall protection.


OSHA’s stance on fall protection is that there is no safe working distance away from an unprotected edge. But in an interpretation of workers on a low-slope roof, having just a warning line at least 15 feet from the edge of a roof for non-roofers (HVAC installers) would be considered a “de minimis” violation if non-roofers are prohibited from crossing the warning line. A de minimis violation violates regulations without making the workplace less safe and doesn’t result in a citation.


OSHA assumes traditional fall protection is safer than creating an alternative plan and has described some industry approaches to assembling and installing roofs without foregoing fall-protection precautions just because an anchor isn’t convenient:

    ▪▪ Assemble the roof on the ground and use a crane to place it.
    ▪▪ Use permanent and reusable roof anchors and reusable truss braces while working from ladders or platforms at both ends to brace the trusses without needing to be on them.
    ▪▪ Once trusses are braced, begin initial sheathing at the eaves with workers on platforms inside the structure, removing braces one at a time. Sheath the last course while tied off to existing wood anchors.

When OSHA regulations meet the real world, they can leave you wondering how they should be interpreted, and roofing is no exception. Hopefully this summary of how OSHA has interpreted fall protection for roofing situations clarifies some of the questions.