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.

Fighting the Labor Shortage Means Developing a Dedicated Recruiting Program

Reaching out to local schools and colleges can be a great way for contractors to find prospective employees. Baker Roofing sponsors Shed Day, an event in which trade school students build sheds that are auctioned off. Photos: Baker Roofing

The roofing industry and the trades in general are facing a labor shortage of epic proportions and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. When the recession of 2008 hit, the construction industry lost 600,000 jobs. According to GlobeSt.com, a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79 percent of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by 0.5 percent annually for the next 10 years. This means competition for workers is fierce.

Baker Roofing, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has implemented an aggressive program to recruit the labor they need. According to Brendan Hale, regional operations officer and former director of career development and recruiting, the company had to shift its approach to recruiting. “We used to only advertise when we had open positions,” explains Hale. That method turned out to be challenging, and they recognized that they needed to try something different. Like a sales pipeline, they realized they needed to create a hiring pipeline in order to have a pool of candidates in the funnel when positions opened.

To build that pipeline, the company increased its online activities. “We’ve got a heavy presence online through social media, staying on top of the latest trends,” says Hale. “We are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat with the goal of publishing content that could be of interest to younger people.”

Baker Roofing maintains a strong presence on job boards too, with hiring ads rolling throughout the country to create awareness of their company and the opportunities. The company also relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from current employees, friends and family. “People choose to come here because they have confidence in the types of people who work here,” states Hale.

Partnering With Local Schools and Colleges

“We do a lot of outreach with local high schools, especially in Raleigh,” explains Hale. “We sponsor Shed Day where all throughout the state, the trade classes build these sheds that they auction off and our head of recruiting is on the board. We donate time, materials, and money and talk to the kids broadly about construction but more specifically about a career at Baker Roofing.”

Baker Roofing donates time and materials, and its employees help educate students about construction, the roofing industry and career opportunities at the company. Photos: Baker Roofing

Hale notes the company tries to have a corporate presence throughout the schools in their service areas and assists the local offices with building the relationships when they can. “We’re a big company with 22 offices. Right now, we’ve got a presence in the high schools in Charleston, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. Every year we try to grow that a little bit with the staff that we have and the resources we have.”

Baker Roofing is a big believer in internships for college students. The company hires interns throughout the company in accounting, recruiting, construction management and estimating. The students work for Baker Roofing over school breaks, and the company has programs in place so that they possibly can be hired full time.

“We are a growing company and we know that people are your most precious resource; if they spent the time with us and we feel they have the right cultural expectations, morals and ethics, we can typically find a spot for them here,” says Hale.

Veterans Are a Resource

Baker Roofing has also turned to the pool of veterans who are looking for work after leaving the service and reserves. “We have a large number of our employees who are veterans,” Hale says. “We have a registered apprenticeship program, so we try to appeal to veterans where they can get started with us, learn the industry from the ground up and utilize their GI Bill benefits.”

When Baker Roofing hires veterans and places them into the registered apprenticeship program, the veterans can receive money from their GI benefits in addition to the paycheck that they are receiving as a Baker Roofing employee. “As they are getting promotions and moving up within the company, the GI benefit begins to taper off. By the time they complete the three-year program, the idea is that they would be on their feet in a stable and long-term position,” explains Hale.

Starting a Strong Recruitment Program

Hale says it’s tough to share advice on how to start and build a strong recruitment program because there isn’t one simple answer. “For smaller contractors, it’s going to be harder. There isn’t a silver bullet out there that will solve all the problems,” says Hale. “It takes a variety of strategies. For a smaller contractor who may have a smaller team, it’s difficult to assign these kinds of tasks to someone who already has a full-time job doing something else.”

Baker Roofing has hired a number of veterans, who can start a registered apprenticeship program while also receiving a paycheck as a Baker Roofing employee. Photos: Baker Roofing

A full-time recruiter is ideal, according to Hale. “Ideally if a company has the capability, they need a champion who does this, and it needs to be their full-time focus. In order to sustain it someone has to constantly be working on it and thinking about it,” he says.

Benefits are important, too. Hale says that Baker Roofing employees have access to company benefits including health insurance, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, a 401(k) that offers a match. They also offer a clear guide for employees, so they understand what it takes to advance within their career, and they understand what the opportunities are within the company.

If contractors don’t have the manpower or resources to do it on their own, it’s possible to get involved with the many other organizations who are already looking at recruiting into the trades. SkillsUSA and Keep Craft Alive are two initiatives that may offer an opportunity for a roofing contractor or someone on the team to volunteer and help introduce the youth involved to the idea of a career in roofing.

Another area to think about tapping into for recruiting is the female workforce. There is a small percentage of women in the roofing industry overall, and the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) wants to change that. NWIR recently surpassed 1,200 members, and one of the organization’s efforts is the recruitment of women into the industry. NWIR is exploring initiatives that partner with organizations serving women in crisis to help those women get back on their feet and show them what a career in roofing could be like for them.

About the author: Karen L. Edwards is a marketing consultant for the roofing industry and director at the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3). For more information about the Roofing Technology Think Tank, visit www.rt3thinktank.com.

How to Reduce Labor Expense Without Sacrificing Quality

Photos: CertainTeed

Labor shortages have been a longstanding issue in the construction industry. With not as many skilled tradespeople as needed to do the work, roofing contractors have to work smart to stay competitive and maintain profits. Roofing manufacturers have adapted to the labor shortage by developing labor-saving products that are easier to master and install.

To help commercial roofing contractors make more informed product decisions, CertainTeed commissioned Trinity|ERD, a well-recognized building envelope consulting firm, to conduct “Factors Impacting Low-Slope Roofing: A National Labor Study,” which quantifies the labor differences between self-adhered modified bitumen, traditional bituminous systems and single-ply roof coverings. This independent, five-year low-slope labor study analyzed the installation of 45 different roofs with six popular roof covers in 18 different configurations in various regions of the country, isolating and timing product and task-level installation data, and observing where efficiencies or inefficiencies occurred. The study also combined observed labor data with national average labor and material costs to allow for a comparison of installed costs across 12 popular modified bitumen and singe-ply roof assemblies.

While the study confirms that product selection impacts labor efficiency and ultimately earnings, a contractor’s ability to turn a profit is multifaceted. In addition to product labor analysis, the study produced a wealth of information on how commercial contractors can improve their efficiency across any roof covering by optimizing their crew management, project management and estimating accuracy.

Here are some observations from the study that can improve the productivity of commercial roofing contractors, regardless of product selection:

Roofing manufacturers have adapted to the labor shortage by developing labor-saving products, including self-adhered modified bitumen roofing. Photos: CertainTeed

· Estimate for Temperature and Environment. Environmental factors associated with a project should always be factored into estimates. Productivity can slow down in both high and low temperatures. Cold weather often creates more work due to heating adhesives being required, longer periods for relaxing rolls, longer welding times of membranes (APP, SBS, TPO, PVC) and the need for cumbersome cold-weather clothing. Heat can often cause fatigue and the need to hydrate often, resulting in more break periods. Also, projects taking place at night are typically slower than daytime projects, as the area of work is constrained to lighted areas and tools are more difficult to find in the darkness.

· Improve Crew Communication. Roof cover installation is optimal when the installing crew works as a coordinated team. Crews that spoke multiple languages or crews with limited understanding of one another tend to have longer installation times.

· Specialize Crew Tasks. Productivity increased when multiple crew members carried out narrowly defined work activities to complete a task as a team, as opposed to a single man completing the full breadth of the task alone. For example, when hand-held screw guns were used, laborers that staged and placed screws/plates as one phase of work — and either dropped back to install or were followed by another crew member to install — were more efficient than a single individual carrying pouches of screws and plates.

· Stage Products With Foresight. Material movement and staging was a critical component in speed at application. Projects that were staged with easy material access for installers resulted in faster installations. Crews that relied on installers to stage their own materials required fewer personnel on the roof, but at the cost of slower overall installation times.

· Employ Strong Management. Rooftop supervision and direction – including effective management of roof loading, managing break times, staging materials for easy access, prefabrication (such as combining screws and plates) and staging materials which have already acclimated to the temperature/environment – played a pivotal role in faster installation times.

Environmental factors associated with a project should always be taken into account during extimates. Extreme weather can slow down productivity. Photos: CertainTeed

· Implement Quality Control. Across the country, the labor study observed a variety of quality control methods ranging from no in-application quality controls to extensive quality controls conducted by both foremen and in-house, third-party quality managers. A lack of in-application quality control reduces upfront labor, but increases the likelihood that a crew will need to return to correct issues found post-inspection. As with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

· Use and Manage Tools Wisely. The efficient use of tools and tool accessories has a measurable impact on installation times. For example, the installation of a bituminous cap membrane with a multi-torch cart (a.k.a. “dragon wagon”) was completed in 86 percent of the time required in comparison to a hand-held torch. Automated screw and plate installers provide a measurable time advantage; however, a knowledgeable mechanic or crew member who has rooftop access to spare parts is crucial in case the machine jams or malfunctions. Poorly maintained automatic welders (single-ply TPO/PVC) with inconsistent power and/or damaged parts (nozzles and silicone wheels) slow down productivity and hamper the quality of the application. Blowers used on roofs to clean surfaces and move large sections of membrane on a cushion of air were effective and increased productivity in multiple applications.

Increasing Efficiency

The ability of a crew to quickly and profitably install a low-slope roof system cannot be isolated to the specific type of roof cover being installed. A roofing crew’s efficiency is also impacted by climate, project parameters, tools, safety requirements, quality requirements and crew management. Roofing estimators and managers should clearly identify the factors impacting their crews, optimize productivity whenever possible and adjust their estimates accordingly. While project parameters and management apply a high degree of variability to every job, proper training, project management and crew management can significantly increase efficiency and help contractors extract the most profit from projects.

Understanding the many factors that impact crew efficiency can help contractors produce better results in less time. The labor study can help roofing contractors better understand labor efficiencies by product, more accurately estimate the labor associated with certain tasks and improve installation efficiency across all roof covering types.

For the full 20-page CertainTeed/Trinity|ERD study, including detailed analysis of labor data and installed cost for various roof assemblies, visit www.certainteed.com/laborstudy.

About the author: Abby Feinstein is Product Manager, Commercial Roofing for CertainTeed Corporation. For more information, visit www.certainteed.com.

Resilience in Health Care Facilities

The hurricanes that pounded portions of the East Coast of the United States in recent years left record-setting destruction in their wake. But they also taught valuable, if painful, lessons about resilience — what works, what doesn’t, and what’s needed to ensure that the built environment can withstand the predicted increase in these cataclysmic weather events.

These storms, as well as wildfires in the West and tornadoes, hailstorms and extreme flooding throughout the South and Midwest, also drove home the message that hospitals and other health care facilities face unique challenges during times of crisis. They must continue operating to ensure the wellbeing of their patients, meet the needs of staff members who are caring for those patients, and admit additional patients, many of whom may have been injured during the storm. Hospitals frequently house ongoing research and millions of dollars of scientific work could be destroyed if power is lost, or a lab is flooded. Health care facilities are often called on to serve as emergency command centers for entire communities, even during extended utility outages and transportation infrastructure disturbances, and provide such basic necessities as food and water. In fact, in a 2014 report, FEMA cited hospitals, along with public shelters, vital data storage centers, power generation and water and other utilities, and installations which produce, use, or store hazardous materials, as critical facilities “for which the effects of even a slight chance of disruption would be too great.” In other words, hospitals must be able to provide “a standalone level of resilience” independent of the surrounding community and its infrastructure.

The same FEMA report points out that demographics are working to make hospitals even more essential during a crisis, pointing out that the aging population of the United States “will place additional stresses on health care infrastructure.” Finally, while hospitals understand how to organize for the unexpected, other “sub-acute” residential health care settings such as nursing homes, dialysis centers, rehabilitation centers and retail pharmacies tend to be less focused on the stresses that an emergency could put on their systems. Nonetheless, these non-hospital settings need to plan for worst-case scenarios and fully assess their physical vulnerabilities.

Given the increasing frequency of cataclysmic natural events, there has been a growing awareness that rebuilding health care facilities in the wake of a storm is not a viable approach: to fend off the impact of future storms, it will be necessary to incorporate increased structural resilience to protect both patients and staff during extreme events. In many instances, hospitals have responded, ensuring that their built environment incorporates features that were unheard of even a decade ago.

The Importance of the Roof

In any building, the continued functioning of the roof is essential to protect the interior from water or wind damage, and to maintain a comfortable level or heating or cooling for the interior space. In a health care setting, especially when flooding is an issue, the roof must perform additional essential tasks such as serving as a potential location for evacuation of patients or delivery of essential supplies and personnel. For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina at Tulane Medical Center, the hospital’s engineering staff was called on to fashion a makeshift helipad on a parking garage roof to evacuate 200 patients and 1,500 personnel beginning two days after the storm, as generators ran out of fuel or failed and it became apparent that no fuel would arrive. Patients were transported in passenger pickup trucks, as ambulances were too tall to access the parking deck.

Additionally, roofs may be required to support heating and cooling equipment. At Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, opened in 2013, all critical mechanical and electrical infrastructure was placed on the roof and above flood elevations to minimize possibility of interruption. In fact, hospitals in flood-prone regions are being planned and designed “upside-down” with critical infrastructure on rooftops and electromechanical distribution systems fed from the roof downward.

To help the health care sector better prepare for increasingly extreme weather, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has produced the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, devoting one specific section to Building Health Care Sector Resilience. The guide was developed through a public-private partnership with the health care industry and provides an introductory document as well as a suite of online tools and resources that showcase “emerging best practices for developing sustainable and climate-resilient health care facilities.” The guide also provides case studies of organizations that are finding innovative ways to deal with the threats posed by extreme weather events.

The toolkit also provides a checklist to help gauge the resilience of a building, focusing in part on conducting a critical building inventory. Questions specific to the roof, or partly pertaining to it, include:

  • Have you compiled building envelope and performance vulnerabilities for each critical building?
  • Have you reviewed building code design baselines against extreme weather intensities (wind speeds, rainfall volumes, etc.) for each critical building?
  • Have you incorporated expected climate change data over time into building vulnerability assessments?
  • What are the design wind loads for roofs?
  • What are the design snow loads for roofs? Have rooftop structures and equipment (and their attachments) been reviewed for anticipated wind speeds?
  • Have rooftop structures and equipment (and their attachments) been reviewed for extreme precipitation and/or hail vulnerabilities?

A Case in Point

As with most issues related to roofing, the people who have been on the front lines, helping to create a resilient system, are the real experts. Chuck Anderson is Construction Program Director at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. When Hurricane Ike struck in September 2008, the hospital, encompassing 100 buildings, suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage. Anderson has been one of the people charged with ensuring that the hospital campus, located on a vulnerable low-lying barrier island, is protected from similar future losses. The hospital campus is also required to be self-sustaining for two weeks during and after a storm. As far as priorities for building a resilient roof, Anderson says, “Number one, it is the product. Number two, the installation.” Anderson advocates for a fully adhered system. “You can have the best product in the world, and if it’s not applied correctly, that’s going to blow off.”

Anderson also points out that it’s essential to use a membrane that will withstand “any little blowing object that might put a hole in your roof.” But ultimately, along with state-of-the-art materials and installation methods, Anderson says that additional care is needed; when a storm is predicted, he and his staff walk the roofs to clear them of any debris that could create damage if it becomes windborne. High-tech roofing and low-tech, step-by-step attention to detail — a winning combination to help protect the built environment against increasingly destructive weather events.

To access the U.S Climate Resilience Toolkit and its guide, “Enhancing Health Care Resilience for a Changing Climate”, go to https://toolkit.climate.gov/image/662.

For information on incorporating resilience into a roofing system, go to http://epdmtheresilientroof.org.

About the Author: Louisa Hart is the director of communications for the Washington-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA). For more information, visit www.epdmroofs.org.

Environmental Product Declarations Are a Driving Force for Change

Agropur Cooperative’s new Canada Green Building Council certified and LEED accredited two-story office building in Longueuil, Quebec, has polyiso insulation on the roof. Photo: SOPREMA

With a worldwide population that continues to grow (estimated at more than nine billion by 2050), demand for natural resources is increasing at rates that threaten to stress sustainable supply. Over the last few decades, society has become increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of human activity. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the built environment accounts for 41 percent of our national energy consumption and nearly as much of our greenhouse gas emissions. With an eye toward conserving resources and mitigating climate change and its effects, the building industry is on the front lines of the effort to achieve sustainability goals and create buildings that not only drop jaws, but also lower carbon footprints.

Polyiso roof and wall insulation offers high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, and outstanding fire performance. In this photo, polyiso roof insulation is being installed on a flat roof. Photo: Hunter Panels

Sustainability is not a one-time event, but a process that encompasses the whole life cycle of a building. To effectively ensure that resource conservation spans that whole cycle requires transparency and coordination between stakeholders starting at the beginning of the design process to assess choices based on economy, durability, utility, and sustainability. Architects and specifiers need to have a complete picture of the merits of any product that might go into a building so they can make informed decisions that include impacts from a product’s manufacturing process to its long-term applied performance.

In the United States, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council have emerged as an important benchmark for rating individual building components, processes, and systems. They are designed to:

  • Promote the efficient use of energy, water, and other resources.
  • Protect occupant health and improve productivity.
  • Reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation.
  • Improve resiliency in the face of extreme conditions.
The new Big Ten Headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois, utilizes polyiso wall insulation. Photo: Hunter Panels

Other notable programs across the globe and throughout North America, including the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Green Globes, US Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, GreenStar, and the Living Building Challenge, employ standards that are used in concert with LEED ratings to boost performance and promote a conscious approach to resource use in building construction, operation, and maintenance.

Many manufacturers are publishing rigorous, third-party verified evaluations of the whole life cycle impacts of their products to increase transparency and allow easier comparison of alternatives. These Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are similar to a “nutrition label” for building products and include information on sourcing, production, and performance of the products in a standardized and independently verified format that is recognized globally and based on International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. This consistent and scientific method to measuring and reporting information makes it possible to consider a product’s comprehensive impact and allows to base specification choices on measurable projections.

Earlier versions of LEED allowed manufactures to make claims about a product’s sustainability in one area without disclosing deficits in another area. This led to a healthy skepticism from clients and consumers about advertised merits and prompted a move toward greater transparency and verifiability. In its most recent revision, the LEED v4 standard asks manufacturers to provide more detailed information on a material’s content and its comprehensive environmental impact before their individual products can claim sustainability designations.

Basis for Evaluation

For an EPD to have a scientific basis, the impacts need to be clearly defined and linked to important environmental concerns. To help define these impacts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed TRACI, the Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts. TRACI methodology identifies a number of important factors related to critical environmental impacts:

  • Global Warming Potential (GWP)—linked to global climate change.
  • Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)—related to the (now closing) hole in the earth’s ozone layer caused by certain chemicals.
  • Smog Creation Potential—linked to car exhausts, power plant emissions and fumes from products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Acidification Potential—linked to acid rain caused by certain smokestack emissions.
  • Eutrophication Potential—linked to excessive amounts of nitrogen in rivers and lakes causing algae blooms that consume vital oxygen in the water.

Common Standards for Comparison

The EPD process is based on a framework to ensure that these practices are conducted in a consistent and reliable manner anywhere in the world. It includes the following key steps:

  • Product Category Rule – products with similar functions are assessed in the same way using comparable measures.
  • Life Cycle Assessment – products are evaluated based on inputs in the form of resources and energy, and outputs in the form of emissions and waste for their life cycle either from “cradle-to-gate” (from raw material extraction until it reaches the “gate” of the manufacturing facility) or the more rigorous “cradle-to-grave” (goes beyond the gate to include transportation, product manufacturing, use phase and the product’s end of life).
  • EPD generation – information from this assessment is organized into the standardized format for publication, including a life cycle diagram, illustration of product components, and a summary of impacts.
  • Third-party validation – outside experts verify and evaluate the report and the research that underlies it.

The widespread adoption of EPDs is fostering change in the building products industry leading to even more ambitious sustainability goals. As a growing body of EPDs are published, they contribute to a reliable catalog of data available as a reference point to help identify markets for new products and potential areas for improvement. Manufacturers can easily evaluate which steps in their products sourcing and production could be optimized for sustainability. Comparative information can serve as motivation for product innovation, leading to better options and better outcomes for the whole industry.

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.

EPDs Confirm the Benefits of Polyiso

Photo: Johns Manville

EPDs from the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) report the results of an exacting “cradle-to-grave” Life Cycle Assessment showing the merits of polyiso insulation for wall and roof applications. The findings include:

  • The energy savings potential of polyiso roof and wall insulation over a typical 60-year building life span is equal to up to 47 times the initial energy required to produce, transport, install, maintain, and eventually remove and dispose of the insulation.
  • Polyiso has a high return on embodied energy.
  • Polyiso roof and wall insulation offers high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, recycled content, opportunity for reuse, and outstanding fire performance.
Photo: Johns Manville

Evaluation for the third-party assessment was done by PE International and includes a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment that covers every step in the process of creating and using polyiso products. Looking at everything from resourcing, production, transport, installation, maintenance, to eventual removal and replacement, the EPD measures impacts across a broad spectrum, including everything from how products might contribute to global warming, smog production, and ozone depletion to the energy and water use and waste disposal required at the end of its life.

Primary data from six PIMA manufacturer members was used for the underlying life cycle assessment and the EPD represents the combined weighted average production for these members.

What Is Polyiso?

Polyiso is a closed-cell, rigid foam board insulation consisting of a foam core sandwiched between two facers. In wall applications its facers, which are usually made of kraft paper-backed foil, are adhered to both sides of the foam before it is cut into sheets and packaged for shipment and the boards function both as continuous insulation—creating a thermal barrier that isn’t interrupted at every stud—and as an environmental envelope to protect the building from water, air, and heat infiltration. It is typically attached outside the wall framing and covered by an exterior finish.

It is the most widely used insulating material for above-deck commercial roof construction in North America. The boards are installed in one or more layers, depending on the insulation needs, on the steel, wood, or concrete roof deck structure and then covered with the roofing membrane.

EPD Polyiso Findings

  • High thermal efficiency. Because it is one of the most thermally efficient building insulations available in today’s marketplace, Polyiso requires less total thickness to deliver specified R-value in roof and wall assemblies, reducing overall construction costs and increasing usable building space.
  • High net return on embodied energy. A recent study comparing initial embodied energy to long-term energy savings achieved over 60 years in a typical commercial building suggests that the net energy savings potential of Polyiso wall insulation ranges between 20 and 47 times the initial embodied energy required to produce, transport, and install the Polyiso insulation.
  • Zero ozone depletion potential. All PIMA Polyiso manufacturer members produce rigid foam board with third-generation, zero ozone-depleting blowing agents. The blowing agent (pentane) used in Polyiso also is among the lowest in Global Warming Potential.
  • Recycled content. Polyiso insulation typically is manufactured using recycled material. The percentage of the recycled material by weight depends on the individual manufacturer, the thickness of the product, and the type of facer.
  • Opportunity for reuse. Although this declaration assumes the Polyiso wall insulation boards will be landfilled at the end of the wall assembly service life, it is possible to salvage and reuse the boards, either at the original site or on another construction site. Used Polyiso wall insulation may be collected and resold by several national logistics firms.

PIMA is currently updating its EPDs for polyiso wall and roof insulations, which will be available in Q1 of 2020.