Tapered Insulation Can Prevent Ponding on Low-Slope Roofs

The primary and most important function of a roof membrane in a low-slope roof system is to provide weatherproofing by keeping the rainwater from entering the roof assembly. Ponding water poses the greatest risk to a roofing membrane, since it not only shortens its service life, but can lead to more serious life safety concerns when loads and deflections exceed the designed conditions. This could lead to a roof collapse. From an aesthetics standpoint, areas on roofs with a prevalence for ponding are susceptible to unsightly bacterial and algae growth as well as accumulation of dirt. Given the large footprint of low-slope roofs on typical commercial buildings, managing rainwater timely and effectively is an important design consideration in new roof design as well as roof replacements on existing buildings. In addition, the model building codes include requirements for minimum drainage slope and identify ponding instability as a design consideration for rain loads.

Tapered insulation systems are an integral part of roof system design and can help reduce or eliminate the amount of ponding water on the roof when the roof deck does not provide adequate slope to drain. The popularity of tapered insulation has grown as more designers and roofing professionals understand the importance of positive drainage in good roofing practice. Because of its wide use in low-slope roofing application, tapered polyiso insulation systems offer a number of benefits in addition to providing positive drainage: high R-value, versatility and customization to accommodate project-by-project complexity as well as ease of installation. This article highlights the key considerations for tapered insulation systems.

Slope and Drainage Requirements in Building Codes

The model building codes require that commercial roofs be sloped to achieve a positive drainage of rainwater to drains, scuppers, and gutters. The term “positive roof drainage” is defined in the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) as “the drainage condition in which consideration has been made for all loading deflection of the roof deck, and additional slope has been provided to ensure drainage of the roof within 48 hours of precipitation.” The 2018 IBC indicates a minimum design 1/4:12 units slope requirement for membrane roof systems, and minimum slope of 1/8 inch per foot for coal tar pitch roofs. New construction must comply with the minimum slope requirements in IBC Section 1507. Roof replacement or roof re-cover applications of existing low-slope roof coverings that provide positive roof drainage are exempt from the minimum prescriptive1/4:12 units slope requirement.

Roof drains are part of an approved storm drainage system and function to divert water off and away from the building. Roof drainage systems in new construction must comply with provisions in Section 1502 of the 2018 IBC and Section 1106 and 1108 of the International Plumbing Code (IPC) for primary and secondary (emergency overflow) drains or scuppers. Roof replacement and re-cover applications on existing low-slope roofs that provide positive roof drainage are exempt from requirements for secondary drains or scuppers. It is important to note that secondary drainage systems or scuppers in place on existing buildings cannot be removed unless they are replaced by secondary drains or scuppers designed and installed in accordance with the IBC.

When reviewing the options available for achieving the required slope in a roof system, designers have a number of choices. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) (see “The NRCA Roofing Manual: Membrane Roof Systems: 2019”) the slope can be achieved by: sloping the structural framing or deck; designing a tapered insulation system; using an insulating fill that can be sloped to drain; properly designing the location of roof drains, scuppers and gutters; or a combination of the above.

Design Considerations For Tapered Insulation Systems

Proper design and installation are critical to the effective performance of tapered polyiso insulation systems, and this is true for any product or system. Tapered polyiso is manufactured in 4-foot-by-4-foot or 4-foot-by-8-foot panels that change thicknesses over the 4-foot distance from the low edge to the high edge on the opposing sides of the panel. The standard slopes for tapered insulation are 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch per foot to accommodate specific project requirements. However, tapered insulation panels with slopes as low as 1/16 inch and other alternative slopes (3/16 inch and 3/8 inch per foot) can be specially ordered to accommodate unique field conditions. The minimum manufactured thickness of tapered polyiso insulation board at its low edge is 1/2 inch and the maximum thickness at the high edge is 4-1/2 inches.

The design of the tapered insulation system will be governed by the footprint and complexity of the roof under consideration, slope of the roof deck, presence and configuration of roof drains (primary and secondary), scuppers, gutter or drip edges. In addition, roof structures, height of parapet walls, expansion joints, curbs and through-wall flashings and any other elements that may obstruct water management also needs to be considered in the design phase. The tapered insulation system will be lowest at internal drains, scuppers, gutters and drip edges, and will slope upwards away from these features.

Keeping in mind that the primary goal of a tapered insulation system is to most effectively move water to the specified drainage points. A two-way (two directional slope) or four-way (four directional slope) system are the most common designs. A two-way tapered insulation system is commonly used on roofs where multiple drains are in straight lines. In this scenario, there is a continuous low-point between the drains and it often extends to the parapet walls. Crickets are installed in between the drains and between the building or parapet walls and the drains. (See Figure 1a.)

A four-way tapered insulation system is the most effective way to move water off the roof, and this approach is highly recommended by industry professionals. In this scenario with a drain located in the center, water is drained from the higher perimeter edges on all four sides. (See Figure 1b.) Variations of two-way and four-way systems exist to accommodate complexities in the field. In addition to two-way and four-way systems, one directional slope and three directional slope tapered systems can be used to effectively move water to gutters, drip edges and scuppers.

Keeping in mind that a tapered system is more expensive than a roof system constructed with standard flat insulation only, the tapered design is often a target for “value engineering.” Value engineering can compromise the drainage intent of the design professional, architect or roof consultant for the purpose of lowering the installed cost of the roof system. Value engineering may change the specified slope or redesign the configuration of the tapered panels. In the end, the building owner may pay for a tapered insulation system that does not effectively drain water from the roof as intended by the original design. This will likely result in higher long-term costs for roof maintenance and premature roof system failure.

A typical tapered insulation system will incorporate flat polyiso board stock (referred to as “fill panels” or “tapered fill panels”) beneath continuing, repeating tapered panels. The tapered panels can be a single panel (or “one panel repeat”) system, meaning that the taper is provided by a single repeating panel in conjunction with fill panels. (See Figure 2a.) Non-typical designs can feature up to an eight-panel (or “eight panel repeat”) system with eight tapered panels making up the sloped section prior to incorporating the first fill panels. An example of “four panel repeat” system with 1-inch and 2-inch fill panels and 1/16 inch per foot slope is provided in Figure 2b.

Finally, crickets are an integral part of a tapered insulation system and are commonly used in two-way systems. Crickets can divert water toward drains and away from curbs, perimeter walls, and roof valleys. The two factors that must be considered in the design and installation of crickets are slope and configuration. The general “rule of thumb” is that for a full diamond cricket the total width should be between 1/3 to 1/2 of the total width. The wider the design of the cricket, the more you utilize the slope in the field of the roof, which improves the drainage efficiency.

Crickets typically have diamond or half-diamond shapes. (See Figures 3a and 3b.) However, kite-shaped and snub nose crickets can also be configured to accommodate specific roof designs. To keep water from remaining on the cricket surface, the design needs to have a sufficient slope (generally, twice the slope in the adjacent field of the roof). NRCA provides guidance regarding cricket geometry (see “The NRCA Roofing Manual: Membrane Roof Systems: 2019”).

Tapered insulation systems offer a cost-effective solution to achieving positive slope and improved drainage in new roof systems and roof replacement applications. An adequate rainwater management strategy that includes both proper drainage and elimination of ponding water is critical to the long-term performance and durability of a roof system. In addition, proper design, detailing, and installation of products must be an integral part of a tapered roof system design. For more information, consult with a polyiso insulation manufacturer who provide guidance, design assistance, and technical information regarding tapered insulation systems. In addition, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) publishes technical bulletins to help navigate the process of designing a tapered system. PIMA’s Technical Bulletin #108 on Tapered Insulation Systems can be found at www.polyiso.org/resource/resmgr/Tech_Bulletins/tb108_Mar2017.pdf.

About the author: Marcin Pazera, Ph.D., is the Technical Director for Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). He coordinates all technical-related activities at PIMA and serves as the primary technical liaison to organizations involved in the development of building standards. For more information, visit www.polyiso.org.

Speaking of Education…It May Be Back to Class for Contractors

It’s no surprise that almost all states require general contractors and some subcontractors to register with regulatory boards and pass a qualifying exam in advance of bidding, contracting, and certainly physically undertaking construction work. That’s not new. However, there is an emerging trend towards requiring general contractors, and even some subcontractors, to participate in continuing education. Depending on the jurisdiction, some contractors and subcontractors are now statutorily obligated to complete a certain amount of continuing education — similar to what has been historically required only of doctors, lawyers, and accountants — to maintain licensure.

For instance, this summer, North Carolina became the most recent state to impose continuing education requirements for general contractors. Effective January 1, 2020, general contractors will be required to complete 8 hours of continuing education per year. Because roofing contractors in North Carolina performing work in excess of $30,000 are required to be licensed as general contractors, they will now be subject to the new continuing education requirements.

This recent legislation and its impact on the roofing industry raises questions about what is required for roofing contractors nationwide. Does roofing require special licensure and registration or continuing education? The answer is entirely dependent on the jurisdiction where the work is to be performed.

The following states currently require licensure for roofing: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Other states don’t require licensure per se but do require roofing contractors to register. For instance, Oklahoma requires roofing contractors to register with the Construction Industries Board. Failure to register is a misdemeanor, and registration and endorsement as a commercial roofing contractor requires 4 hours of continuing education every 36 months. Similarly, Idaho does not require a state license, but requires roofing contractors to register with the Idaho Contractors Board.

As seen in Figure 1, even among the states which require continuing education, the requirements vary greatly both in the amount and type of education required. For instance, Florida law requires contractors holding a roofing license to take 1 hour of wind mitigation methodologies as part of the 14 annually required continuing education hours. In Massachusetts, construction supervisors within the roofing industry are required to take 2 hours of continuing education in code review and four one-hour courses in topics of workplace safety, business practices, energy, and lead safe practices.

Figure 1. Licensing and continuing education requirements by state.

Finally, in those states which don’t require licensure or continuing education, some industry groups have developed self-regulation. These industry groups are aimed at consumer protection and seek to secure public confidence in the roofing industry. In Georgia, which does not require a state roofing license, the Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Georgia (RSMCA) provides a voluntary licensing program. Similarly, Kentucky has no license requirements for roofing contractors. However, the Kentucky Roofing Contractor Association (KRCA) is a nonprofit and professional organization which certifies roofing contractors. To obtain and maintain KRCA certification, roofing contractors must complete 10 hours of continuing education per year.

But just because a state legislature or professional association has not enacted regulations necessitating continuing education does not mean contractors are free from such requirements. While not mandated by the state itself, many cities have imposed their own directives. States such as Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania each contain at least one municipality that compels contractors to take board-accredited continuing education courses. For example, Idaho Falls, Idaho, requires 8 hours of continuing education.

Regardless of where you are engaged in the practice of roofing contracting, it is imperative that all contractors exercise due diligence and review and comply with all state and local regulations before undertaking any project.

Contractors and trades are seeing a rise in regulation through the government by way of mandated continuing education courses. Do you think contractors should be required to take continuing education classes? Is this a necessary void that needs to be filled by the government intervention or is this just another example of unnecessary government regulation? Tell us what you think.

About the author: Lindsey E. Powell is an attorney with Anderson Jones, PLLC practicing in North Carolina and Georgia. Questions about this article can be directed to her at lpowell@andersonandjones.com. Special research credit is given to Kyle Putnam, Juris Doctor candidate and summer law clerk with Anderson Jones, PLLC.

Author’s note: This article is intended only for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.

OSHA Education and Training Requirements For Contractors

Many licensed contractors have been getting “on-the-job” training for years — some, since they were working on jobsites as young laborers. But what formal education and training are required for contractors? The short answer is that it differs slightly from state to state, but no one can escape OSHA.

Perhaps the best-known training requirements for contractors are those set forth in the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) and the regulations OSHA enables.

OSHA permits individual states to develop and enforce their own occupational safety and health plans, statutes, and enforcing agencies as long as the states meet federal requirements (29 U.S.C. § 667), so many contractors may be more familiar with their state’s occupational safety and health act than the federal. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jurisdictions with their own federally-approved plans governing both public and private employers are Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. (Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New York, New Jersey, and the Virgin Islands have plans that apply only to public employees.) State laws must be “at least as effective” and stringent as OSHA.

In most of these states, and in states that simply follow the federal OSHA requirements, construction-industry employee training is required to comply with the federal requirements set forth in 29 CFR 1926. California, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington have more stringent requirements than the federal rules.

What Training Does OSHA Require?

The Department of Labor’s regulations contained in 29 CFR 1910 and 29 CFR 1926 give employers numerous “accident prevention responsibilities.” These responsibilities specifically include the duty to train each “affected employee” in the manner the standards require. The regulations specifically require training for employees on topics including scaffolding, fall protection, steel erection, stairways and ladders, and cranes. Both federal and state courts interpret OSHA training requirements; state courts interpret them in states with their own laws but look to federal decisions for guidance.

Court decisions indicate that training requirements are interpreted broadly. For example, in 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit evaluated 29 CFR § 1926.21(b)(2)’s requirement for employers to instruct each employee in the “recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions.” The case, Modern Continental Const. Co., Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, involved vertical rigging in a tight working space during an underground project involving submerging a section of highway. The operation resulted in a fatality. The court found that the employers’ duty “is not limited to training for hazards expressly identified by OSHA regulation” and that employers are obligated to instruct their employees in the recognition and avoidance of “those hazards of which a reasonably prudent employer would have been aware.” The court recognized that while the training does not have to eliminate hazards, the training must focus on avoiding and controlling dangerous conditions.

Furthermore, merely holding or sponsoring training courses may not be enough to comply with OSHA; the regulations require employers not only to ensure training but also to ensure that each affected employee has received and understood the training. The District of Columbia Circuit emphasized this requirement in Millard Refrigerated Services, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor. The Court upheld a citation against an Alabama company operating a refrigerated storage facility after an anhydrous ammonia leak even though the employer claimed it didn’t know that its employee didn’t understand the training and therefore wasn’t wearing a respirator.

Decisions like this make it incumbent upon employers to recognize and anticipate hazards and ensure that employees have the proper education and quality training to handle them.

Penalties for Training Violations

Employers’ duty to train is worded as a duty to its individual employees: “The employer must train each affected employee in the manner required by the standard, and each failure to train an employee may be considered a separate violation” [29 CFR 1926.20(f)(2)]. The statute and regulations do not explicitly state the penalty for failure to give required training; penalties will depend on the facts of each case. OSHA violations generally fall into one of four categories: willful, serious, repeated, or other-than-serious. According to the Department of Labor, the current maximum penalty is $13,260 per serious violation and $132,598 per willful or repeated violation.

Courts have upheld steep penalties for certain training violations, particularly for repeated failure to train employees. For example, in Capeway Roofing Systems, Inc. v. Chao, a roofing contractor was fined $6,000 for failing to train an employee on fall protection. (The Secretary of Labor also assessed other fines against the contractor for failure to comply with rules on fall protection, personal protective equipment, and other regulations.) The court reasoned that the fine for failure to train was appropriate, though relatively high, because it was a third “repeat” violation. Additionally, in some states, certain OSHA violations, especially willful and repeated violations, can subject employers to criminal liability.

About the author: Caroline Trautman is an attorney with Oak City Law, LLP, based in Durham, North Carolina. Questions about this article can be directed to her at caroline@oakcitylaw.com.

Author’s note: This article does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice on any particular scenario. For specific advice, consult with an attorney licensed in your state.

3 Best Practices for Communicating During a Crisis

From jobsite accidents to employee or management misdeeds, no business is immune from crisis situations — including the roofing sector. Contractors, manufacturers, distributors, and stakeholders throughout the supply chain do their best to safeguard against crisis situations and hope such events will not occur. But of course, hope is not a strategy and even the most stringent procedures cannot guarantee a crisis will not damage a business’s operations or its reputation.

As with many aspects of managing a business, advance consideration and planning can help minimize the consequences of a crisis situation. Have you asked yourself, “What would I do if a crisis situation threatened my business and the media/social media were at my door?”

A good place to start is by understanding not all crisis situations are the same. Most crises fall into one of two categories: “sudden” or “smoldering.” As the name implies, a sudden crisis arises without warning. Industrial accidents, terrorism, workplace violence and acts of God are all examples of sudden crisis situations. There is little time to prepare in these events and they are more likely to generate the public’s sympathy. In contrast, smoldering crisis events generally emerge over time and present problems not generally known that could generate negative public sentiment if they become public. Examples of smoldering crisis situations include business concerns such as audit findings, drug use by an employee, board mismanagement or a potential regulatory violation. A smoldering crisis may rapidly evolve into a sudden crisis if the news becomes public on the news or social media. As opposed to sudden crises, smoldering crisis events are rarely viewed positively.

Three Keys to Crisis Communication

Regardless of whether a crisis is sudden or smoldering, communication is imperative. A crisis communications plan can help manage either type of crisis. The plan should outline a central spokesperson to deliver all messages and include specific processes for who within the organization to contact in the event a team member is contacted by the media. While the details of a crisis management plan are beyond the scope of this column, every crisis management plan requires communication. When crafting crisis communications, three “best practices” can be applied to most situations. These practices are:

1. Tell the truth. Rarely are all of the facts readily available as a crisis situation unfolds. Yet members of the media are trained to “demand the facts” as news is still breaking. Obviously, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements and legal issues typically limit what can be disclosed. And the reality is, many times an organization simply does not know all of the details surrounding an unfortunate event. As such, it can be tempting to refrain from making any statement during a crisis situation or uttering the words “no comment.” But evasiveness naturally breeds suspicion. While organizations should never speculate during a crisis, they can share some truths about what they are doing.

A good technique to use in these situation is the “why plus what” approach. For example, “While not all of the facts are clear based on the investigation underway at the site of the accident, we are cooperating with first responders and posting updates on our website.”

The “why plus what” approach is a very useful technique for communicating without speculating or refraining from comment. Using this approach, spokespersons explain why they cannot elaborate and follow up with what they can share right now. For example: “While I can’t speculate about the root cause as research is still underway, what I can tell you is (approved statement).” A classic example of this technique used by reporters covering unfolding stories is, “While the details are still emerging, what we do know is ¼”

2. Tell it fast and with empathy. Not only is it important to tell the truth (what you can tell) quickly, but it is important to be prompt in response and empathetic to those affected by the situation. History provides some unfortunate examples of the damage a company can suffer from delaying its response, or not responding empathetically. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska is a good example of the damage that can arise when timeliness and empathy are lacking. The company waited a full week to address the media following the oil spill. When the executive did speak in a TV interview, he delivered a strong impression that he didn’t really care about the environmental impact of the disaster, committing a huge PR cardinal sin — lack of empathy.

More than 20 years later, after another oil disaster, another oil executive committed a crucial PR blunder. (Google “Tony Hayward get my life back.”) BP former CEO Tony Hayward conducted a number of high-quality media interviews before complaining halfway through a conversation with a reporter, “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” His comment demonstrated a lack of sympathy for the many lives lost and the hundreds of jobs lost due to the incident’s aftermath throughout the affected area. Unlike the Exxon leader’s interview, BP’s situation unfolded in the social media era, amplifying the damage of the negative PR as the unfortunate interview went viral.

In any crisis situation, it is imperative for an organization’s leadership to put themselves in the shoes of those affected. This means thinking like a customer — and just as important talking like a customer — personally affected by the situation. Leaders should acknowledge the affected parties’ fears and frustrations. In stark contrast to the corporate speak of a prepared statement, empathy acknowledges that the speaker feels and shares the customer’s pain. Effective crisis messages project empathy and concern while explaining clearly and succinctly what can be shared. The best examples also provide perspective by framing the issue in context. For example, “Each year, our operations produce XX metric tons of product without incident.”

3. Tell your employees first. Despite all the efforts companies invest in developing messages for their website and official statements, a company’s people are usually the most sought-after and trusted source of information. Thus, in crisis situations, it is a company’s people who will receive questions from customers, friends and family about what’s “really” taking place. Employees must be a key audience in any crisis management plan. The plan should educate employees on the issue and provide clear information on how to direct inquiries to the appropriate spokesperson.

Whether it’s a sudden or smoldering crisis, the crisis communications best practices outlined above coupled with a crisis management plan can help members of the roofing community navigate the challenge.

About the author: Susan Miller is director of public relations at 5MetaCom, a marketing agency for companies selling technical and scientific products, including building products.

Industry Q&A: SPFA’s Professional Certification Program Benefits Contractors and Consumers

Kelly Marcavage is the Certification Director for the SPFA. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A Conversation With Kelly Marcavage, SPFA’s Certification Director

Q: What is the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance’s Professional Certification Program?

A: The SPFA Professional Certification Program, which we sometimes refer to as PCP, is a certification that allows spray foam pros to demonstrate to the world they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job properly. It’s an opportunity for contractors and suppliers to stand apart from everyone else. With a certification, they have proven they understand spray foam and how to use it safely and effectively, which maximizes performance.

Q: What role do you feel the Professional Certification Program plays in the roofing industry?

This photo shows certification testing being conducted in the field. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A: Certification is key for roofing because roofing, in general, is highly specialized. Not only do installers need to consider best practices in the spray application of the product on the roof, but they also need to consider that the roof often houses mechanical equipment, solar panels, drainage components, skylights and other items, thus foot traffic is inevitable. Also, roofing is an exterior component to the structure and needs to withstand rain, wind, storms and debris. A certification helps a contractor, installer and supplier prove their knowledge and understanding of all of these key factors. Certification also gives those hiring these parties peace of mind.

Q: What are some of the things that SPF roofers should know about the certification and testing?

A: Unfortunately, in the industry we sometimes see folks who tout that they have professional spray foam experience when they don’t. Certification is a way to prove you have the credentials. Our certification isn’t a fly-by-night program. Participants are verified by a third-party, ISO well-respected organization.

Q: What’s new with the certification program this year?

A: The biggest thing this year is we are taking the certification on the road. We have officially launched a road show. While our program has always been designed to be available at the grassroots level with PCP testing and field exams offered regionally, we are taking it one step further. Our road show features a trailer full of all components needed to give a field exam. We are traveling the country testing and helping people meet the qualifications to become certified.

Q: For those that want to participate in the road show, how can they get involved?

A: For companies that want to get involved, they should contact me. I am the certification director and can be reached at certdirector@sprayfoam.org. I will guide them and help them get onto the calendar for the road show. As far as contractors, I would suggest they start by visiting www.sprayfoam.org and reviewing our calendar of events. We will keep that updated as we add new road show dates and opportunities with links and info on how to sign up.

Q: Other than the road show, what other ways can roofing professionals participate?

Certification demonstrates the applicator has the knowledge and skills to do the job properly and provides a high level of consumer confidence. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A: We provide opportunities throughout the year, with testing provided at supplier facilities across the country. The program is also available annually to attendees of our Sprayfoam Show Convention & Expo, which draws approximately 1,400 people. Next year’s event will be held in Pasadena, California, February 11-14. Typically, field exams are the first two days of the event. We are fortunate that the Sig Hall Memorial Scholarship Fund has donated the cost of the Sprayfoam Show’s field exams allowing contractors to participate free of charge. We hope this sponsorship will be available again in 2020.

The most accessible way to participate is through our remote testing platform. Live proctors administer exams and remotely monitor participants. For master installer level certification, participants still need to take an over-the-shoulder evaluation, but we have many field examiners willing to travel to the jobsite and oversee the exam there.

Q: I know you have different categories, or levels, for the certification. Do you plan to introduce any additional categories in the near future?

A: We do have four certification levels for the contractor. These four levels are offered in both SPF Roofing and SPF Insulation certifications. The levels include the Assistant, Installer, Master Installer and Project Manager. We are currently developing a Consultant certification that will launch by year-end. This is designed for those that consult in the industry, whether it be as inspectors or witnesses who provide testimony in the judicial system. This is an important addition to our certification offering.

Q: Is there anything else that you want to tell us about the certification program?

A: I would stress that it is ideal to complete your certification now, before you find yourself on deadline trying to complete an RFP that requires it for consideration of the job. We frequently receive calls from frantic contractors in this predicament. While we can often accommodate them in time, provided their qualifications are in place, this isn’t the ideal way to become certified.

The other thing to note is that certification provides a high level of consumer confidence in the person or team they are hiring. Not only is the program standards-based, but if a certified individual doesn’t comply with best practices on the job, there are ramifications. They may even lose their credentials.

Contracts Can Provide Protection From Escalating Prices

If you work in the construction industry and you aren’t familiar with the impact of price escalation, chances are you are about to learn.

It’s hard to make sense of the so-called “trade war” between the United States and China, and the economic forces in play are complex. But in essence, reports are that the events of past months are continuing to impact building costs in the United States.

President Trump and his administration have imposed tariff increases on certain Chinese goods in a claimed effort to boost the United States’ economy. As several news outlets have reported, Trump started with a 10 percent increase on certain Chinese products; then on May 10, he announced an increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on products like electronics, clothing, and seafood. A May 14 Los Angeles Times story reported that the tariffs had already added $1 billion – a number that could increase to $2.5 billion – to the annual cost of housing construction due to price increases in Chinese granite, cement, vinyl floor coverings, waferboard, tile, and stainless steel. Some roofing materials, like aluminum, are projected to cost more in the near future, too. (See, for example, BBC News’ May 10 article “Trade wars, Trump tariffs, and protectionism explained.”)

The Los Angeles Times’ prediction was that cost increases would be borne by American consumers investing in housing and construction. But the only thing that truly allocates risk of price increases will be contract terms.

And this gets us back to why we care about material price escalation and how players in the construction industry can assert some control over what are, at their core, factors beyond their control.

None of us can control what President Trump says, does, or tweets, or what China does in response. But if parties think about these issues before entering into construction contracts, they can at least know who will bear the risk of these types of increases and try to prepare accordingly. Although factors like federal economic policy and market forces can impact material prices, who bears the cost of these increases in a commercial setting is solely dependent on the parties’ contract terms. 

Assessing Risk in Pre-Existing Contracts for a Fixed Price

If standard-form construction agreements, like AIA or ConsensusDocs contracts, are a guide, then contractors and subcontractors will probably bear the risk of material price increases in contracts to which they are already a party, assuming they are contracts for a fixed sum or guaranteed maximum price. (Of course, cost-plus agreements will give contractors much more potential to recover for price increases.) Although price escalation can be addressed in provisions on contingencies — percentages of the contract value set aside for unpredictable changes in the work — unless the agreement specifically mentions price increases or escalation, contractors probably are not entitled to an increase in a fixed contract sum due to price escalation.

To understand the legal significance of a price escalation claim, it is important to understand the distinction between changes in scope of work and changes in price. Nearly all standard-form construction agreements provide for how “changes in the work” will be handled. For example, AIA A201 (General Conditions of the Contract for Construction) provides in §7.3.1 that “the Owner may … without invalidating the Contract, order changes in the Work within the general scope of the Contract consisting of additions, deletions, or other revisions, the Contract Sum and Contract Time being adjusted accordingly.” However, because per §1.1.3 the term “Work” includes “all … labor, materials, equipment, and services provided or to be provided by the Contractor to fulfill the Contractor’s obligations,” contractors will not be entitled to an increase in the contract sum unless there is a change in the scope of the work or materials themselves.

Addressing Price Escalation in Future Contracts

Because price escalation claims don’t fit neatly into most standard provisions on change orders or equitable adjustments, parties who want to reduce their risk with respect to material price increases should explicitly address the issue when negotiating contracts. Contractors can do this by considering cost-plus contracts, inserting a price escalation clause into fixed-price agreements, or simply increasing the contract sum in an attempt to protect themselves in the event of price increases.

Cost-plus contracts could be a useful tool for contractors hoping to shift away, or more evenly distribute, the risk of higher material costs. While most cost-plus agreements will still contain a guaranteed maximum price that potentially won’t cover builders for all price increases, these arrangements still probably give contractors greater ability to pass cost increases to owners than fixed-price agreements. Because these contracts charge owners for the cost of labor and materials plus a fee, owners can also benefit from any decreases in material costs. Negotiating a guaranteed maximum price may also allay owners’ concerns about rising costs.

In fixed-price agreements, parties who want to address material cost issues should likely insert clauses that either condition the contract sum on material costs existing at the time of the contract, or clauses explicitly entitling them to make a claim for additional payment in the event of price increases. Such provisions might be more appealing to owners if they similarly entitle owners to the right to reduce the contract amount in the event of material price decreases.

If price escalation clauses are based upon time, they should specifically state the date through which the contract sum can be guaranteed. They should then specify how a contract increase, if any, should be imposed so that the parties will have a clear understanding of how a new price will be calculated. If provisions are contingent not on time but on the amount of the price increase, they should address how much of a cost increase is actionable — for example, a clause could apply to material cost increases of 3 percent and above — and should explicitly state what documentation is required in order for the contractor to make a claim for increases. In anticipation of making such a claim, contractors should consider preserving documentation of prices as they exist at the time of bid so that they can prove that price increases in fact occurred later when they are asserting a claim for price escalation. With both types of clauses, providing cost savings for the owner in the event of a price decrease, or placing some limit on the ability to claim an increase, could be crucial to making a deal with owners.

About the author: Caroline Trautman is an attorney with Oak City Law, LLP, based in Durham, North Carolina. Questions about this article can be directed to her at caroline@oakcitylaw.com.

Author’s note: This article does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice on any particular scenario. For specific advice, consult with an attorney licensed in your state.

Collective Efforts Support Stability and Growth of U.S. Building Industries

On April 3-4, more than 400 roofing industry stakeholders participated in Roofing Day in D.C. 2019 to share the industry’s message with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Photo: PIMA

Andrew Carnegie once said that “the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives” is the “fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” This spring more than 500 professionals from the roofing and insulation industries brought their individual efforts together in unified support for policies that promote the continued vitality of our nation’s building and construction efforts by participating in organized visits with Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

In April, amid the profusion of cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, groups of roofing contractors, front-line workers, state and regional roofing associations, roofing manufacturers, distributors, and design- and roof-consulting professionals participated in close to 300 Congressional meetings as part of the industry’s annual Roofing Day events. They were followed in May by contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers from the insulation industry representing the majority of states undertaking more than 100 meetings on Capitol Hill with lawmakers.

Roofing Day

Roofing Day in D.C. 2019 offered an opportunity for the entire roofing industry to advocate in support of three key issues:

  1. A robust buildings component for infrastructure legislation.
  2. Immigration reform that meets the roofing industry’s workforce needs.
  3. Expanded workforce training incentives.
Chad Burman of Carlisle Construction Materials (second from left) meets with lawmakers and fellow industry executives on Roofing Day in D.C. Photo: PIMA

Investment in U.S. public infrastructure could be a robust catalyst for sustained economic growth while also helping to create jobs. Congress currently is considering comprehensive infrastructure legislation for transportation, water and energy infrastructure needs. This includes the Public Buildings Renewal Act of 2019, S. 932, cosponsored by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), which would provide tax-exempt financing to the private sector via partnerships with the U.S. government to repair and maintain numerous federally owned buildings around the country. Roofing Day advocates noted that the average public school building is at least 40 years old and the current backlog of maintenance and capital projects represents an annual funding gap of $45 billion.

According to the first-quarter 2019 Commercial Construction Index from USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70 percent of building contractors are missing project deadlines because of the skilled labor shortage. Roofing Day advocates discussed the need for a visa system, such as the system proposed in the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act, that would support the hiring priorities of roofing and similar industries. This system would ensure employers undertake vigorous recruitment to hire U.S. workers first, and enable job creators to obtain the foreign-born workers needed to meet demand and grow their businesses.

Insulation Industry National Policy Conference

In May, 110 contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers from the insulation industry representing the majority of states met on Capitol Hill with lawmakers to discuss issues and ideas for harnessing the resources of the insulation industry to tackle some of the country’s most pressing problems.

Justin Koscher of PIMA and Paul Coleman of Huntsman Corporation were on hand for Roofing Day in D.C. Photo: PIMA

With the constant stream of news stories highlighting the human costs and economic consequences of a changing environment, momentum is growing behind solutions that can address these environmental challenges in ways that strengthen U.S. economic productivity and competitiveness. To that end, advocates worked to build enthusiasm for federal action on policies that optimize the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings. Raising standards for new residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and retrofitting older ones can lead to long-term savings through better building performance.

Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is a practical way to help the environment, create jobs, and save money. Boosting energy efficiency alone can provide 40 percent of the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet global targets and the work to implement these standards will lead to jobs in manufacturing, distribution, and installation. These improvements will save consumers billions of dollars in energy costs annually — money that can be invested back into the U.S. economy.

Congressman Paul Tonko (fourth from left) meets with insulation industry representatives during the Insulation Industry National Policy Conference in May. Photo: PIMA

But these policies would do more than save energy; they’d also provide buildings and the people who use them with added protection from severe weather events. In 2017 alone, there were $317 billion in losses from U.S. natural disasters, jump-starting discussions on creating more resilient buildings and communities. Optimizing insulation for an energy efficient building envelope improves performance post-disaster or during prolonged events like heat waves or extreme cold. And the investment would pay off — it’s estimated that designing buildings to the 2018 I-Codes would deliver a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested. 

  • Some legislative tools to promote these improvements include:
  • Strengthening oversight of new rules for disaster preparedness and response.
  • Supporting investments in building science research.
  • Recognizing buildings as infrastructure, including critical structures such as hospitals and schools.
As part of the Insulation Industry National Policy Conference, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York speaks on “Charting the Federal Response to Climate Debate.” Photo: PIMA

Our environment is a constructed one — roads, buildings, offices, schools, houses and hospitals are all part of the infrastructure that sustains a productive economy. The strength of the construction industry is interwoven with the success of society overall. In tough economic times, companies retrench, grinding construction projects to a halt and leaving builders in a difficult position. This slowdown has a ripple effect through related industries, as architects, building suppliers, electricians, engineers, and retailers, feel the pinch from halted projects. As tax revenues fall, governments delay infrastructure investments and defer maintenance, using stopgap measures to keep things running without fixing underlying problems or proactively planning the replacement of systems already beyond their life-expectancy.

A proactive approach to strengthen the construction industry does more than give a hand to hammer wielders and mortar spreaders. It provides stability that flows through the economy as projects move forward and the web of interconnected industries support each other in providing necessary services. Policies that support a robust building industry boost economic growth, improve energy security and independence, and advance U.S. global competitiveness.

About the author: Justin Koscher is president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). For more information, visit www.polyiso.org.

Case Study Reveals Key Lessons in Roof Design

Photo 1. In order to manufacture materials inside the facility, humidity had to be added to the space in the form of hanging moisture dispensaries. This increased the relative humidity to 90 percent with interior temperatures reaching 90 degrees. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

The client said, “The roof leaks in the dead of winter.” Interesting when the exterior ambient temperature is below zero. The client’s firm had purchased the metal building several years earlier and water had come in every winter. A key piece of evidence was that the original building was used for storage. The new entity purchased the building for manufacturing. Not just manufacturing, but manufacturing of medical-grade textiles that require the use of humidity to reduce static electricity. Not just humidity, but 90 percent relative humidity (RH), where visible water is sprayed into the air. (See Photo 1.) Interior temperatures routinely reached 90 degrees. Now, let’s see: 90 degrees with 90 percent RH inside, zero degrees outside, and 6 inches of vinyl face batt insulation compressed at the purlins with aged, open lap seams. Not good. The mission, if I chose to accept it, was to eliminate the leaking on a roof that was watertight.

Proposed Solutions

During my first meeting with the client, I was provided with proposals from roofing contractors and, sad to say, several roof consultants. Proposed solutions ranged from coating the metal, to flute filler and cover board with a mechanically attached thermoplastic membrane, to flute filler, 2 inches of insulation and adhered thermoplastic. None of the proposals identified the interior’s relative humidity and heat as a concern, and thus these issues were not addressed. So, a good part of the morning was spent educating the client as to why none of the proposed solutions would work. Imagine spending big bucks on a roof solution that would have only exacerbated that situation.

Photo 2. Rising humidity passed breaches in the vinyl vapor barrier in the insulation and condensed on the underside of the metal roof panels. The water would then drip down on to the insulation, and eventually the vapor retarder seams would open and water would pour in.

The existing building was a metal building by Kirby (similar to a Butler Building if that helps). The roof was a trapezoidal seam metal roof panel 24 inches wide on a low slope to an offset ridge. The panel runs from ridge to eave were 200 feet to the north and 100 feet to the south. The roof drained to a gutter on the north and lower metal roof on the south. The east and west roof edges were standard metal building rake metal. The walls were vertical metal siding with exposed screws. The roof and metal wall panels were set over vinyl faced insulation draped over purlins. While there was exhausting of the interior air — typically used in the summer — and some provisions for adding exterior air in the winter and summer, there was no overall mechanical control of the interior.

The Key Issue

While a freezer building has extreme energy low trying with every ounce of its being to pull hot humid air in, this structure has extreme energy high trying to “get out.” The warm, humid air is seeking every crack, split in the insulation facer, and open lap seam to move toward equalization. This warm, humid air was making its way to the underside of the metal roof panels, condensing, and running down the underside of the panel until it dropped off.

Figure 1. Typical Roof System Section

After time, the accumulation of the water in the batt insulation created a large belly until the adjacent lap seam broke and large amounts of water came cascading down. Soiled product had to be discarded. With rolls 5 feet wide and a 6 feet diameter, the losses could be substantial. Water on the floor was also a safety issue. Additionally, when this damage occurred the insulation layer now had an opening which sucked in even more interior air; the condensation increased and water dripping to the floor was an even bigger problem. This was occurring in numerous conditions, with the greatest accumulation of water in the insulation near the ridge. (See Photo 2.)

Determining the Solution

Prior to delving into a potential solution, a parti, or overall concept of architectural design, had to be developed. In this case I decided that the metal roof would become the vapor retarder for the new roof. Simple enough. If the metal roof is to become the new vapor retarder, the key was to keep it warm enough so that even if it came in contact with the interior air, it would not result in condensation. We did this by determining the dew point for several insulation scenarios and found that with the batt insulation still in place and 90 percent RH with a temperature of 90 degrees inside, with an exterior design temperature of minus 10 degrees, 6 inches of insulation above the 2.5-inch flute filler was required.

Photo 3. For budget reasons, the liquid flashing seal of the trapezoidal seams was eliminated. As the metal roof had to act as the vapor retarder, a self-adhered membrane was installed first over the trapezoidal seam and fit into the articulated seam with “finger” rollers, and then placed over the center of the panels and fit around the panel striations.

All roof system designs need to be thought of holistically, as the success depends on the sum of all the components working together. So, let’s start with the roof panel and structural system. Designers of metal buildings are notorious for minimizing each and every structural member to lower costs. A structural check found that the existing structure was able to handle the weight of a new roof system. Prior to proceeding, a mechanical fastener pull-out test was performed by Pro-Fastening Systems of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, an Olympic Distributor (need a special or standard anchor, these guys have it). The tests showed that the 22-gauge metal panel was able to engage the buttress thread screw.

To be effective, a vapor retarder needs to be airtight — or for you purists, have extremely low or no permeability at all — and this metal roof had to function as a vapor retarder. The steel roof panel itself is impermeable, but the seams, though mechanically locked, have the potential under interior pressure to allow air to pass through. The seams had to be sealed. The mechanical fasteners penetrating the metal roof panel needed to be sealed as well. The roof transitions at the vertical rake walls, gutter and low roof also needed to be sealed. After looking at the standing seams, it was decided that they could not be assumed to be airtight, so we selected to seal them with a liquid flashing. As the mechanical fasteners would penetrate the panel, a bituminous self-adhering and hopefully self-sealing vapor retarder was placed on the panel. (See Figure 1 and Photo 3.) Transverse laps, removing the ridge cap and infilling the opening were all addressed. The rakes presented unique challenges which took some good thinking on how to seal. Ultimately, it was decided that a combination of removing the rake metal and installing a prefabricated roof curb and membrane vapor retarder would do the trick. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Rake Edge Detail

My initial thought was to begin the thermal layer with a layer of expanded polystyrene (EPS) on the deck designed to fit the trapezoidal seam profile. This left a void at the seams, so the void between the seam and EPS was sealed with spray foam insulation. (See Photo 4.) The insulation was then mechanically fastened. The thickness of the EPS was 3/8 of an inch greater in height than the standing seam to compensate for varying seam heights. Over the EPS, one layer of 2.6-inch fiberglass-coated faced, 25 psi polyisocyanurate insulation was designed to be mechanically fastened to the roof panel. The top layer of insulation was a 2.6-inch fiberglass-coated faced, 25 psi polyisocyanurate insulation, which was designed to be set in full spatter cover flexible polyurethane foam adhesive. A cover board with the receiver facer to which the membrane would be attached was designed to be set in a full coverage of splatter applied polyurethane insulation. (See Photo 5.)

Photo 4. The EPS was cut to fit the panel profile. The joint at the seam was sealed with spray foam insulation.

As the installation was to take place in late fall and during the winter, adhesive use was determined to be challenging if not impossible, so the roof cover selected was a 90-mil Carlisle FleeceBACK black EPDM. The fleece on the membrane would engage with a unique hook and loop facer and reduced by 95 percent the amount of adhesive required. (See Photo 6.) Six-inch seam taped end lap seams with self-adhering cover strips were designed, while the butt seams were also double sealed with 6-inch and 12-inch cover strips.

The rake edge was designed to be sealed at the top of the metal panels and raised with an insulated metal curb. (See Photos 7 and 8.) The wall panels’ reverse batten seams and bowed inward panel were designed to be sealed with a foam closure set in sealant. The architectural sheet metal on the rakes was a four-piece system of fascia and coping. The roof edge gutter was enlarged and reinforced to hold up to solid ice.

Construction

Photo 5. Once the EPS “flute filler” was in place, two layers of 2.6-inch coated fiberglass insulation were mechanically fastened into the standing seam panels. The high-density cover board was then installed in spray foam adhesive.

The project was bid out and AR Commercial of Aurora, Illinois, was selected. Work on the project began in October 2018 and was completed in April 2019. (See Photo 9.) Like any project, various miscellaneous items not anticipated arose, such as extreme cold early in the fall that precipitated the decision to mechanically attach the insulation in lieu of cold adhesive application. I also forgot about the residual water in the existing batt insulation. While we designed for 90 percent RH and temperatures of 90 degrees, we didn’t anticipate the 100 percent RH condition where the soaked batt insulation was located, which resulted in condensation occurring during the deep freeze. You’re never too old to learn something new. The batts were cut open, dried and all is good.

Sometimes you need a good roof over your head to keep you dry, even when it doesn’t rain.

Photo 6. The FleeceBACK 90-mil EPDM sheets were aligned, rolled out, broomed in and rolled.
Photo 7. Following the removal of the existing rake metal, the roof vapor retarder was extended down and over the existing construction and onto the metal roof panel. The contractor came up with an innovative two-piece roof edge curb that allowed for ease of installation.
Photo 8. Following the installation of the interior curb side, which was accomplished with a jig for continuous alignment, the curb was insulated and the exterior cap piece installed.
Photo 9. The finished roof prevented condensation from occurring even when the ambient temperature dropped to minus 28 degrees with wind chills near minus 50 degrees.

About the author: Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CRP, CSI, is a principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd. in Barrington, Illinois. For more information, visit www.hutchinsondesigngroup.com.

The 7 Commandments of Roofing

If I were the Roofing God for a day, what would I change? Oh, where do I start? First of all, there would be none of this “you should,” “can,” “may” or “it is recommended” nomenclature. I would have commands: Thou shall do the following.

Freezer Buildings and Block Ice Insulation

Photos 1 and 2. When moist exterior air is pulled into the roof systems of freezer buildings, the moisture condenses and freezes. Here gaps in the insulation are filled with ice. On the interior there are icicles more than 10 feet long. The cause? Air intrusion at the roof edge under the membrane and wood blocking. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

I have never opened up a roof over a freezer building that wasn’t solid ice between the insulation joints. How does this travesty occur? Ignorance? In part. Naiveté? Yes. Who is guilty? Whoever is the roof system designer. Most designers should know that there is an enormous moisture drive from the exterior to the interior. This drive is not a passive movement, but a huge, sucking pressure. It’s like there is a shop vac in the interior trying to pull in outside air. But designers fail to realize that the first sources of interior moisture intrusion into the roof system are moisture migrating out from exposed soil until the concrete slab is poured; moisture coming from the interior concrete floor slab; and latent air moisture (relative humidity) in the interior air before the freezer is operational.

We in the roofing industry are very good at keeping water out of the building. It’s the influx of air that is destroying these roofs shortly after bringing the freezer online. So how is the air getting in? Oh, let me count the ways: (1) though the unsealed membrane at the roof edge; (2) past beveled precast concrete joints at the roof edge; (3) below perimeter wood blocking at the roof edge; and (4) up through metal wall panel joints.

Photo 2.

Stopping air transport to the interior is key. Most designers believe that the roof membrane performs as the air/vapor barrier. In the field of the roof, perhaps, but their lack of knowledge about roof material characteristics and proper installation methods often leads designers astray. The perimeter becomes the weak link.

Let’s look at some common design mistakes:

1. In recent years, designers have revised roof membrane selection to reflective roof membranes, in part to garner a LEED point. The trouble is that these membranes are substantially ridged/stiff and can be difficult to turn over the roof edge, adhere and seal, so they are often barely turned over the edge and nailed off. The lack of a positive seal (that would be achieved by adhering the membrane to the perimeter wood blocking and wall) allows air to move up below the membrane.

2. When precast concrete panels are used at the walls, the joints are often beveled. What happens at the roof edge? The bevel extends right up to the perimeter wood of the coping that is straight and parallel to the outside wall face. The bevel becomes a gutter to channel wind up the wall to the underside of the gutter, gravel stop or coping. In a situation like the one outlined in No. 1 above, the wind can move in below the roof system.

3. When perimeter wood blocking is placed in a horizontal position at the roof edge, the underside of the wood blocking needs to be sealed. A non-curing, gun-grade butyl, applied in several rows, works well, such that when the blocking is secured to the wall, the underside of the blocking is sealed. Be aware of uneven substrates that will require additional sealant.

4. Metal wall panel joints are another potential problem spot. Ask a metal wall panel installer why they are only sealing one of the two exterior male–female joints and you are likely to hear, “because the exterior joint completes the vapor retarder” (which is on the exterior of the building when perfect). Technically they are correct. However, getting a perfect sealant joint to create a complete vapor retarder is not so easy. Think of how sealant is applied. The installer squeezes the caulk gun handle and the sealant oozes out in a thick bead, which can vary in thickness as the gun is drawn along. As the trigger is squeezed and the gun moves, the sealant bead decreases in diameter, and then the gun handle is squeezed again and a thick bead oozes out, and so on. At the end of the sealant application, the thinned-out bead is often not sufficient to properly seal the panels where they are engaged. Condensing water weeps out of the joints in the interior in cold storage areas and results in interior ice on freezer buildings. The sealant, whether factory applied or field applied, is not located at the exterior plane of the panel, but recessed in the outer tongue and groove joint, leaving the potential (almost a guarantee) that there will be a vertical “chimney” of about 1/16 of an inch that can channel air up under the membrane turned over the wall panel.

A quality vapor retarder (those of you thinking polyethylene, think again) placed on the roof deck will protect the thermal layers from vapor intrusion from the interior humidity, latent construction moisture, and ground moisture that accumulates before freezer draws down. It also prevents exterior air infiltration, which can result in interior “snow” and the huge icicle formations. (See Photos 1 and 2.)

Commandment #1: Thou shall place a vapor barrier at the roof deck on freezer/cold storage buildings and seal roof edge perimeters, drains and penetrations through the vapor retarder and all perimeter conditions to be airtight.

The Roof Drain Conspiracy

I am convinced that there is an international conspiracy to drive me nuts. It’s called the ‘how small can we cut out the membrane at the roof drain’ contest. (See Photo 3.)

Photo 3. Believe it or not, this is not even close to the winner of “who can cut the smallest hole in the roof membrane at the drain” contest. The membrane should be cut back to within 1/2 inch of the clamping ring to allow the drain to function as designed.

When I am called in as an expert on a building collapse, the first thing I tell the attorney is, “Save the roof drains and attached roof membrane!” Why, you ask? Because I want to see if the roofing contractor competed in the contest and if the installer and the consultant/architect will be party to the repair costs. Drains are designed to create a vortex to drain water most efficiently from the roof. (Watch how a toilet flushes to gain an understanding on how a drain works with the water swirling into the drainpipe.) The shape of the water flow from the roof surface to the drain bowl to the downspout is critical. When the hole cut in the membrane is too small, it can restrict drainage. Costs often drive projects, and it is not uncommon for a roof’s structural elements to be value engineered down to the bone. With intense rainfalls (you know, the 100-year rains that are occurring two or three times per year) and on larger roof areas where large outlet pipes are used, restricted water drainage can and has resulted in structural roof collapse.

So, I’m on a roof and observe the roofing crew cutting out a small hole at the drain. Being the conscientious consultant that I am, I ask, “Can you please cut out the membrane to within 1/2-inch of the clamping ring?” The answer is almost universal: “I’ll do it later.” Usually my blood pressure rises and face turns red as I explain the importance of making sure this detail is not overlooked.

Our details call out the proper way to cut out the membrane and our field observation reports call this out to be corrected, but I am forced to remind contractors again and again — sometimes even when it’s on the punch list. So, what’s a consultant to do? I reject the pay request.

Commandment #2: Call out on your roof drain details to cut back the membrane to within 1/2-inch of the clamping ring (a cloverleaf pattern around the bolts is best), and drive home the importance of this detail to the crew members in the field.

The 12-Inch Roof Curb

Photo 4. Roof insulation thicknesses now required by code make 12-inch roof curbs obsolete. Specify 18-inch curbs. Raising this curb with 16-gauge steel was very expensive. I suggested sending the bill to the engineer.

When energy was cheap, insulation was an inch or two in thickness, and the roof was built up, 12-inch-high roof curbs worked. With the new insulation requirements and tapered insulation, 12-inch curbs can be buried. Furthermore, future code mandates may increase insulation R-value, increasing insulation heights. So, consider this a public announcement to all mechanical engineers and curb manufacturers: Eliminate 12-inch curbs and specify curbs that are 18 inches or higher. (See Photo 4.)

Commandment #3: Specify only 18-inch and above roof curbs and rails.

Flapping in the Breeze

Photos 5 and 6. The membrane left unsealed at the roof perimeter has placed this roof in great jeopardy of wind damage. It is also allowing water to flow back into the insulation.

Driving around Chicago it’s not hard to see roof edges — gutters, gravel stop, and parapets — where the roof membrane is just flapping in the wind. (See Photos 5 and 6.) This is especially a concern when the roof system is mechanically attached and the air can move directly below the membrane. The roof typically is installed prior to the installation of the windows and doors, and while the building is open, airflow in the interior can create upward pressure on the roof system from below. This force, in association with the air getting below the membrane at the roof edge and with uplift above the membrane, drastically raises the risk of wind damage. Furthermore, when the membrane is not secured at the gutter roof edge, water draining off the roof will return back to the roof edge and move into the building and insulation.

Photo 6.

Wrap the membrane over the roof edge, adhere it in place and nail it off. This will save you during the installation and prevent air infiltration once the roof is complete. The designer should also delineate the area where the air barrier meets the roof vapor retarder and/or roof membrane and define who is responsible for what. Detail this explicitly.

Commandment #4: Roof membranes shall be extended down over the edge wood blocking a minimum of 1.5 inches onto the wall substrate, fully adhered and nailed off on the day it is installed. Where applicable, seal to the wall air barriers.

Holding Roof Drains Off the Roof Deck

Photo 7. Drains held up off the deck make re-roofing difficult when a vapor retarder is called for. I have seen roofs covered with 1.5 inches of water due to high drains, with the water just waiting to relieve itself to the interior at the first vapor retarder deficiency.

Nothing is more frustrating to a roofing contractor during a re-roof than removing the old roof to install a vapor retarder and finding that the roof drain has been held up off the roof deck. (See Photo 7.) This goes back to the design when the engineer and architect have no clue as to the use of proper sump pans and roof drains with extension rings — preferably threaded.

Commandment #5: Design, detail and draw the roof drain detail showing the roof deck with a sump pan provided by the roof drain manufacturer, installed by the plumbing contractor not the guys installing the roof deck), with the roof drain now flush to the roof deck, with a reversible collar (to which the extension ring threads engage), the threaded extension ring and dome.

Fill the Void, Bury the Screw, Save the Energy

Photo 8. Often a roofing contractor will leave voids like this around penetrations. Imagine the energy loss.

With the push over the past decade for energy savings/conservation, it is amazing to me that the code bodies have ignored two very highly energy consumptive or energy loss conditions: (1) voids in the thermal layer at penetrations and perimeter conditions; and (2) mechanical fasteners with plates below the roof cover. (See Photos 8-10.)

Photo 9. This photo shows multiple problems, beginning with a stud wall and a large gap at the deck. Warm air coming up the wall will cause deterioration of the water-based adhesives on the base flashing. The insulation panels are not tight to the wall or to each other. The metal strip looks pretty thin, is not a proper vapor retarder termination and will not hold the screws of the base anchor. This is a project that will continue giving work to us expert witnesses.

Some crews work to fit insulation tight to conditions. Others don’t. Eyeballing the circular cutout at vent pipes is common, resulting in fairly large voids at vent pipes. Roof edge conditions vary and significant voids can occur there, too. All of these voids need to be sealed with spray foam insulation, which should be allowed to rise and then trimmed flush to the insulation. I recommend that the spray foam be installed at each layer as subsequent insulation layers can shift the void. We have been requiring this for years without much blowback from contractors. The only issue that arose was when a contractor wanted to use polyurethane adhesive to fill voids; that was a no-go, as the polyurethane adhesive collapses down after it rises.

Photo 10. The screws and plates seen here are costing the building owner a fortune in lost energy.

Mechanical fasteners used to positively secure the insulation and membrane have become commonplace. But as I’ve noted before, we have seen roofs covered in frost with hundreds, if not thousands, of little spots of melted frost. The heat transfer through the fasteners is substantial. Research has found that on a mechanically attached roof cover, the energy loss can be over 40 percent above that of a system without exposed fasteners. As energy requirements are defined by R-value and with the potential for thermal loss due to the fasteners, I propose an R-value penalty for exposed fasteners. For example, in Chicago where the R-value requirement is 30, if you have a mechanically attached roof cover, the R-value required would be 42. That way the thermal efficiency would be equivalent and building owners wouldn’t pay the price for the designer’s lack of knowledge. Thus, as the Roofing God, I would implement this penalty and require all adhered roofs to have fasteners buried below insulation or cover board layers.

Commandment # 6: Show and note on your details the installation of spray foam insulation at penetrations, roof drains and perimeters.

Commandment # 7: All mechanical fasteners should be covered with insulation or a cover board; if not, 40 percent more R-value needs to be added to the thermal layer to compensate for the energy loss.

So, there you have the new roofing commandments that I would bestow if I were the Roofing God for a day. Let’s all work together though to bring about positive change and increase the sustainability and resiliency of our roofs. Together we can do it.

About the author: Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CRP, CSI, is a principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd. in Barrington, Illinois. For more information, visit www.hutchinsondesigngroup.com.

Industry Q&A: RCI, Inc. Is Now IIBEC

Bob Card addresses the IIBEC audience at the Meeting of the Members.

A Conversation With Robert “Bob” Card, President of IIBEC

Q: RCI Inc. recently rebranded itself as the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC). Please describe the thinking behind the change. How does the new name reflect the nature and goals of the organization?

A: After many years of being known as the Roof Consultants Institute (RCI), it became apparent that a significant number of our members are also practicing in the disciplines of waterproofing and exterior walls. We wanted our name to better reflect who we are and what we do, and to describe our outreach beyond the North American continent. Additionally, the IIBEC (pronounced “eye-bec”) staff continually received calls from RCI timeshare customers mistaking that company with RCI, Inc.

Q: How has the membership reacted to the new name and rebranding effort?

A: Nearly all the comments I’ve received since the transition was announced have been positive. There are some who are not pleased, of course; change can be hard after so many years of familiarity with an organization’s name.

Q: How does your background help prepare you for the challenges you’ll face as president of IIBEC?

A: I have been in the building enclosure consulting industry for about three decades now, starting at a very basic level, and seen how technology has changed much of how we communicate and store and access Information. I expect our industry to continue to see an increasing rate of change, and I hope to leverage my experience to help determine how best to adapt evolving methods to best serve our members and the industry at large.

Q: What are some of the key initiatives IIBEC will be focusing on in the year ahead?

A: The rollout of our new IIBEC brand and logo will continue to be a priority, with lots of outreach planned for the next several months. We are working to develop a new credential, CBECxP (Certified Building Enclosure Commissioning Provider), which we believe will be a significant addition to our lineup of professional registrations. Our IIBEC Manual of Practice is being updated and should be completed by year’s end. We are also currently working to identify and hire a new EVP/CEO to replace Lionel Van der Walt, who is moving soon to a new challenge. Collaborations with other organizations are vital in an association. IIBEC cooperated with the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) prior to the rebranding and will continue to tighten these relationships, as well as explore other organizations to collaborate with. The core purposes and values IIBEC has laid out in 2018’s RCI, Inc. Strategic Plan will carry over to the new IIBEC branding. The Strategic Plan can be found at https://rci-online.org/rci-shares-new-strategic-plan/.

Q: What does the future hold? Can you share any long-term goals?

A: We want to strategically shape and position IIBEC so that the next generation of leaders can take the association to a significantly more impactful place in the building enclosure industry. We are working for greater diversity within the leadership pipeline to better reflect the changing workplace and improve the quality of our conversations. And, we’re working to implement a more global outreach, in order to both learn from the experience of others, and contribute to improving the quality of the built environment around the world.

Q: What are some of the educational resources and events IIBEC makes available to its members?

A: We offer numerous classes in the various disciplines related to the building enclosure, both on a national and a local level; we present a packed schedule of technical presentations at both our annual conventions and our building enclosure symposia, as well as at our biannual Canadian building enclosure symposia. Our members also regularly present technical education for other organizations within the design and construction industries. IIBEC chapters facilitate regular education programs through their chapter events, which expand internationally. A big step for IIBEC in 2020 is the partnership with the National Research Council of Canada to host the 2020 ICBEST conference.

Q: How does IIBEC help people who are not members of the organization, including people in such roles as end users, facility managers, school boards and others?

A: At the simplest level, IIBEC can provide contact information to building owners, managers, and design professionals for local consultant members who can assist with their projects. More strategically, by educating and advocating for our members, we are striving to improve the quality of the built environment for everyone. Through our advocacy initiatives, we have built recognition within the United States and Canada at federal, state and local levels.

Q: Where can people go for more information about the organization?

A: Our website (www.iibec.org) is a great place to start; one can find a lot of excellent information there about our organization and our members. Members themselves are also a great resource for information; most are happy to share about the benefits of IIBEC membership. Of course, our amazing IIBEC staff can also provide information related to most any aspect of the organization. Our chapters also hold local meetings and events, which is a great place for someone to learn about the resources IIBEC has both locally and nationally.