Asking Many Questions Helps Property Managers Prepare Reroofing Budgets

Property managers are challenged with three basic decisions for their existing roof systems: Should they repair, maintain or replace their roof system? The proper execution of each phase of the roof condition will determine the longevity of a roof system. Every roof is different and requires detailed evaluation and analysis for budgeting and decision-making purposes.

The bottom line is: What is your desired outcome for your roof and what is your budget? How can you extend the life of your roofing asset and reduce the cost of ownership?

For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll focus on reroofing.

UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS

If you decide to replace your roof, you have to analyze the expense of a new roof, as well as the total investment cost during the lifespan of the roof. Ask yourself these questions and work with your roofing contractor to better understand all options.

    ▪▪ What’s best for my roof, climate and budget?
    ▪▪ What do I want from my roof, other than no roof leaks?
    ▪▪ Should I prepare a one-year budget or a multi-year budget?
    ▪▪ Do I want energy-efficient solutions (improved R-values), daylighting solutions (reduce my electric bills, qualify for energy rebates) and/or safety enhancements (meet or exceed OSHA standards)?
    ▪▪ What operation, service or product is underneath my roof? Product and installation decisions are made differently for roofs over food-processing plants, semiconductor plants or hospitals, for example.
    ▪▪ What three things are most important for my new roof, other than price? (Roofing materials, manufacturer of product, weather, pollution, warranty, maintenance, aesthetics, contractor’s safety requirements, return on investment, energy efficiency, roof traffic or other concerns, for example.)
    ▪▪ What is the value of the roof system as a long-term cost of ownership and not just based on initial price?
    ▪▪ Can we reduce the capital budget by removing expensible items, such as labor for the removal of the existing roof and the cost for disposal of the old roofing materials?

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Work with your roofing contractor to prepare a comprehensive plan for reroofing. The National Roofing Contractors Association and Building Owners and Managers Association International also are excellent resources.

Have your contractor review the best options for your building related to insulation type and amount; drainage condition and requirements; roofing membrane type/thickness; and safety requirements, such as roof hatches, guard rails, skylight screens and walk pads. Look at the slope of the roof to avoid standing-water problems. Are your gutters, downspouts and drains properly sized for adequate water drainage?

Budget numbers should be based on actual costs using measurement tools and Roof Life Index (RLI) tools. When budgeting for a capital project, there can be changes between the time the budget is set and when the project is installed. Materials and/or labor prices can increase. Damage to a roof can increase due to age, weather or other circumstances. Work with your contractor to lock in pricing for repair work during the interim months until the reroofing project begins.

Consider a thermal scan to define the extent of any compromised insulation.

Review local and national building codes for R-value and wind-uplift requirements. Check with your insurance carrier to determine whether the roof replacement system meets its requirements for roof assemblies.

It takes research, planning and capital to install a new roof system. Your roofing contractor is an excellent partner in reviewing your roofing needs, your budget considerations and maximizing the investment in your roofing asset.

Do Your Past Commercial Projects Qualify for an Unused Tax Deduction?

IRS Section 179D has permitted qualifying buildings to receive tax deductions for energy efficiency since 2006. In general, roofing professionals have been unaware of this tax break and, as a result, have not taken advantage of it. Here’s a look at the 179D tax deduction, some reasons why it has been overlooked, and, most importantly, whether there is still time for you or your clients to retroactively claim Section 179D.

WHAT IS 179D?

Enacted under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress added Section 179D as an “energy efficient commercial building deduction”. It was intended to serve as an incentive for the public and private sector to build energy-efficient buildings. Overall, the provision allows for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for buildings that meet certain energy-usage reduction criteria. More importantly, the section allows for a “partial deduction” of $0.60 per square foot for three individual categories: interior lighting; HVAC and hot-water systems; and building envelope, including the roof.

A variety of different factors go into determining whether the roof system will meet the energy-savings criteria. In the northern climate zones, roofing systems with increased insulation values, as well as vegetative roofing systems, are going to have potential to exceed the energy-saving criteria of 179D. In southern climate zones (which typically include Florida, Texas and southern portions of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and New Mexico), cool roofs and insulated systems typically are good candidates to qualify for the energy-saving targets established in 179D. So why have relatively few roofing contractors made use of the provision? At least part of the answer has to do with how the provision was introduced and the lack of expertise available at the time to provide the necessary third-party verification.

For a building envelope to qualify for the deduction, the IRS requires a software simulation to model the annual energy cost savings for the building compared to a theoretical reference building. This study has to be completed and inspected by an independent engineer. However, when the tax provision was initially enacted in 2006, there wasn’t a single firm in the nation that was structured to offer this IRS-required service.

To make the tax incentive more accessible, the IRS developed a simplified “energy analysis,” referred to as the “Interim Rule” for partially qualifying lighting improvements. This adjustment proved effective for the lighting industry whose contractors and engineers quickly developed the necessary verification services to demonstrate compliance with the provision’s requirements.

While lighting contractors benefitted from the new tax code, contractors who worked on the building envelope were left outside. When Section 179D was introduced, the building envelope had to produce a nearly 17 percent reduction of combined energy use from the building’s HVAC and lighting systems. This proved to be a difficult target and, in 2008, the IRS issued a notice that reduced the requirements to 10 percent with the hope of stimulating use of the 179D incentive in the building envelope industries.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Once the lower 10 percent threshold was permitted by the IRS, engineers and tax specialists recognized the benefits that had been available to other industries were now accessible to roofing contractors. While a few roofing companies have benefitted from millions of dollars in tax savings through Section 179D, many millions of dollars remain unclaimed by roofing companies that have installed new roof systems.

Private and government buildings that meet the criteria are eligible for the tax incentive. To date, most of the tax deductions have originated from government-owned buildings. Congress recognized that government entities cannot themselves benefit from tax deductions, so they allowed the deductions to be allocated to the designer or contractor of the energy-efficient system.

RETROACTIVE OPPORTUNITY

The provisions for Section 179D were in effect from 2006 through the end of 2013. Congress approved extensions in 2006 and then again in 2008 and there is bipartisan support to continue the extension through 2015 at least, although legislation to do so is still pending. (See “The Future of Section 17D”, below.) This means current and future qualifying projects seem likely to be eligible to claim this tax break.

Here’s the important part: For work completed before 2014, there is still an opportunity to claim the tax break but time is running out.

For public projects, a study can be performed for pre-2014 projects to see if you can receive the government-allocated deduction. However, the IRS only allows you to amend open tax years, generally three years from the filing date, so it is better not to wait.

For private projects, the building owner can claim deductions in the current tax year, meaning no amendment is necessary for eligible buildings all the way back to 2006. While you may not directly benefit from this tax deduction, it can be useful information for your commercial clients and may help with bidding future projects, assuming the tax deduction is extended.

The Section 179D tax deduction has been historically underused by roofing contractors. To change this, the IRS has modified the requirements to make it more viable. Also, the industry now has the third-party engineering firms required to verify eligibility. Bottom line: There are still opportunities for contractors who have performed energy-saving roof installations to realize significant tax savings.

THE FUTURE OF SECTION 179D

Section 179D is included in the Senate Finance Committee’s EXPIRE Bill. It includes a two-year extension, as well as expands the deduction to the designers of nonprofits. The House Ways and Means Committee held a series of hearings about tax extenders this year. Chairman Camp of Ways and Means had indicated it was unlikely he would extend as many provisions as the Senate EXPIRE Bill. To help support Section 179D, review a Suggested Letter written by Energy Tax Savers Inc., a provider of Energy Policy Act tax services. You can personalize and send the letter to your representatives and members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, as well as tweet your support with suggested Twitter handles and hashtags.

Standards for Testing Solar PV Modules and Panels

For more than a decade, the demand for grid-connected solar installations in the U.S. has been on the rise, in part, because of economic and legislative incentives that encourage and often subsidize the installation of photovoltaic (PV) modules for residential and commercial applications. In the interest of improving energy efficiency, property owners, including businesses and homeowners, are turning to their roofs to support the PV systems.

Solar PV panels are installed on a roof by a mounting or racking system. Building-integrated PV modules replace the roofing material and become a part of the roof.

Solar PV panels are installed on
a roof by a mounting or racking
system. Building-integrated PV
modules replace the roofing material
and become a part of the roof.

A U.S. Solar Market Insight report published this year by the Solar Energy Industries Association, Washington, D.C., found that grid-connected solar electric installations were producing 13 GW of energy through the end of 2013—enough to power nearly 2.2 million homes in the U.S. That’s equivalent to 4,751 MW of solar PV installed in 2013.

There are two main types of PV modules that are being installed on steep- and low-slope roofs today: PV modules that are secured to the roof by a mounting or racking system and building-integrated PV modules (BIPV) that replace the roofing material and become part of the roof. The variety of components and installation techniques lends itself to closer scrutiny in testing each PV module.

ANSI/UL 1703

For more than a decade, manufacturers of flat-plate PV modules and solar panels have had their products tested and certified to meet the ANSI/UL 1703 regulatory standard to ensure their safety, performance and reliability before entering the market.

However, following recent field failures in which fire impacted the module differently than anticipated because of the way it was installed or interacted with the roof, as well as how the PV performed in extreme weather conditions, the ANSI/UL 1703 standard was updated for fire-resistance testing and classification requirements.

The changes to ANSI/UL 1703 require that testing for PV systems not solely be based on the rating for the individual modules, but instead that it takes into account a combined system rating. Stand-alone PV modules and PV modules with mounting or racking systems in combination with the roof covering must receive a fire rating, denoted by Class A, B or C. However, the same testing procedures do not apply for BIPV systems. They will continue to be tested to ANSI/UL 790, “Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings”.

Fire resistance testing, such as Spread of Flames and Burning Brand tests, on solar PV roofing installations are tested in a lab and in the field.

Fire resistance testing, such as Spread of Flames and Burning Brand tests, on solar PV roofing installations are tested in a lab and in the field.

Because of the changes to the ANSI/UL 1703 standard, manufacturers will be required to incorporate new and different testing procedures or potentially need to re-test previously tested products to comply with the standard. A PV panel will be required to obtain a classification “type” with construction review and testing, in addition to obtaining a fire rating for the PV system, which incorporates a module, mounting system and roof covering. The California State Fire Marshal announced the changes to ANSI/UL 1703 will go into effect in California starting Jan. 1, 2015, while changes to the code are set to go into effect in all states and other countries by Jan. 1, 2016.

THIRD-PARTY TESTING

Several solar PV manufacturers regularly work with companies, like Intertek, to ensure the quality and safety of their products, processes and systems. Intertek is one of the four Nationally Recognized Test Laboratories, including UL, CSA and TUV, recognized by Washington-based OSHA to conduct the ANSI/UL 1703 and ANSI/UL 790 testing in the U.S. Intertek has testing labs in Middleton, Wis., and Menlo Park, Calif., among others sites in the U.S. At Intertek, fire-resistance testing for steep-slope roofs is conducted using a “typical” roof as defined in the standard, which consists of 15/32-inch plywood (Spread of Flames) or 3/8-inch plywood (Burning Brand), 15-pound felt and Class A three-tab asphalt shingles. An alternate construction for the Spread of Flames test is to use any classified rolled asphalt membrane, mechanically secured over a non-combustible deck/material.

Low-slope roof testing has a slightly different construction, and the Spread of Flames test is the only test conducted. The low-slope roof consists of a 15/32-inch plywood substrate; 4 inches of polyisocyanurate insulation; and a single-ply, mechanically attached membrane. This membrane is required to have demonstrated a Class A fire rating. A typical membrane used for the testing is a 0.060-inch-thick EPDM roofing membrane.

Fire-resistance testing is just part of the rigorous testing criteria for PV modules; test requirements for the module’s power output, grounding, accelerated aging and conditioning, thermal cycling, UV exposure, and high humidity/freeze tests are also part of the performance testing process. To properly test and certify PV products for the solar market, third-party performance testing ensures independent verification of warranty claims, endurance, output, and functionality in a variety of climate or conditions.

ETL ListedProducts certified by Intertek will receive the ETL Listed Mark, which is required by the U.S. National Electrical Code for the sale of PV systems. Intertek certification provides assurance to roofing contractors, architects, and building owners that a product has not only been tested and met the necessary requirements, but also continues to do so even after installation. Further, Intertek’s ETL markings have long been recognized by regulatory bodies as a leading indicator of proof of conformance and quality for products throughout the U.S. and Canada. Code officials and inspectors, retailers and consumers across the U.S. accept the ETL Listed Mark as proof of product safety and quality. Today, the ETL Mark is the fastest-growing safety certification in North America and is featured on millions of products sold by major retailers and distributors every day.

PHOTOS: Intertek

Learn More

For more information about the testing and certification process, download Intertek’s free white paper: “Photovoltaic Panel and Module Fire Resistance Testing: Comprehensive Guide to ANSI/UL 1703” at Intertek.com/energy/photovoltaic.

MORE ABOUT INTERTEK

In December 2013, Intertek acquired York, Pa.-based Architectural Testing Inc. to become one of the world’s largest quality-solutions providers to the building and construction products’ industry worldwide. From code compliance, performance testing, product inspection, certification and building verification services, Intertek offers its customers everything needed to get their product to market quickly and efficiently by offering total solutions. With a total network of more than 1,000 laboratories and offices and more than 36,000 people in more than 100 countries, Intertek supports companies’ success in the global marketplace by helping customers to meet end users’ expectations for safety, sustainability, performance, integrity and desirability in virtually any market worldwide. For more information about Intertek’s building products’ business, visit Intertek.com/building.

RRPs Help Achieve the RoofPoint Designation for Roofing Projects

Your roof is an asset—an asset that protects your building and everything and everyone in it. So it’s important to get a high quality, environmentally friendly roof system for the lowest annualized cost. There is a new environmentally focused certification for roofing professionals to help building owners make informed decisions about their roofs. The certification
is the RoofPoint Registered Professional (RRP) program.

BACKGROUND

The RRP program adds to the suite of information from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (Center) and complements the RoofPoint certification program and its RoofPoint Guideline for Environmentally Innovative Nonresidential Roofing. In addition to the RoofPoint Guideline and certification program, the suite of information
includes the RoofPoint 2012 Energy and Carbon Calculator, the Center/PIMA Roof and Wall Thermal Design Guide, the Center/Spray Foam Coalition Spray Polyurethane Design Guidance document, and guideline documents from the Center’s PV Taskforce about racking and attachment criteria for integration of PV on low- and steep-slope roof systems. The RRP’s focus is to be fluent in the RoofPoint Guideline, however. (More information about RoofPoint and the Center is available in the May/June issue of this magazine, page 34.)

The Meridian Vineyards roof restoration in Paso Robles, Calif., was submitted by D.C. Taylor Co. and achieved a 17 within RoofPoint, as well as a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design Award for Excellence in Materials Management.

The Meridian Vineyards roof restoration in Paso Robles, Calif., was submitted by D.C. Taylor
Co. and achieved a 17 within RoofPoint, as well as a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design
Award for Excellence in Materials Management.

RRP PROGRAM

The RRP program is intended to provide individual certification for roofing professionals who are designing, specifying, constructing or managing sustainable roof installations certified under the RoofPoint Guideline. The RoofPoint project certification program was started several years ago and has certified hundreds of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly roof installations across the U.S. and North America.

Because many of the sustainable concepts in RoofPoint are likely new to many building owners seeking guidance in the selection of sustainable roofs, the RRP program provides an important link between the ultimate roofing customer—the building owner—and the green-building community, similar to the relationship between the LEED rating system and the LEED AP professional designation.

“RoofPoint Registered Professionals represent a dedicated group of professionals in the roofing industry who make contributions every day to sustainable construction and whose work helps to showcase the critical role roofs play in mitigating the impact buildings have on our environment,” says Center President Craig Silvertooth.

As ambassadors for RoofPoint, RRPs provide services to building owners, facility managers and other building designers interested in achieving the RoofPoint designation for their projects.

CERTIFICATION AND AWARDS

As a building owner, requesting a “RoofPoint roof” in an RFP for a new roof system accelerates the process of ensuring the design and installation of a sustainable roof system. Working directly with RoofPoint Registered Professionals can guarantee the installation of a sustainable roof. RRPs, because they understand the RoofPoint program and process, are capable of self-certifying a new roof as a RoofPoint roof.

A key feature to the RoofPoint program is acknowledgement of the excellent work done by every member of the project team with certificates or awards for the building owner, facility manager, architect or roof consultant, the general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers. Certificates can be awarded to the team as part of a formal or informal presentation.

“I recently had the opportunity to attend a reception sponsored by a charter member of the RRP program in Denver,” notes Jim Hoff, vice president of Research for the Center. “At the reception, we were able to recognize every member of the building team involved in a number of RoofPoint projects for the General Services Administration in Denver. In addition to the GSA’s chief roofing manager, we were able to recognize the roofing contractor, roof system manufacturer, and a number of key service and support organizations that made these award-winning roofing systems possible. RoofPoint and the RRP program really helped to acknowledge everyone involved in these outstanding projects.”

Honda Headquarters, Clermont, Fla., scored a 22 within RoofPoint for Tecta America and was recognized with a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design Award, Honorable Mention for Excellence in Water Management.

Honda Headquarters,
Clermont, Fla., scored a 22
within RoofPoint for Tecta
America and was recognized with a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design Award, Honorable Mention for Excellence in Water Management.

Furthering the marketing opportunity, a RoofPoint-certified roof is eligible for the Excellence in Design Awards (EDAs). EDAs are given annually to the best RoofPoint projects. The EDA categories include energy, water, material and life-cycle/durability management; global, community, private sector and public sector leadership; excellence in reroofing; and advanced sustainable roofing.

RRP IMPORTANCE

An RRP understands the RoofPoint Guideline and can identify the many ways current roofing systems provide economic value and protect the environment. An RRP will wade through the myriad roof system choices to establish design, installation and maintenance criteria for the selection of sustainable roof systems. An RRP understands how to recognize and validate roof system
selection and reward environmental innovation in roofing. An RRP can help analyze the energy and carbon savings by using the RoofPoint Energy and Carbon Calculator, which helps promote life-cycle costs in lieu of the traditional initial-cost basis for roof system selection.

“For over 20 years, I have worked to promote the value of sustainable roof system design and construction with durable, time-tested materials and construction-detail design, delineated graphically for long-term service life, which is the essence of sustainability,” explains Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd., Barrington, Ill.; a Roofing editorial advisor; and co-chair of CIB W083 Joint Committee on Roofing Materials and Systems, an international committee on sustainable low-slope roof systems. “The RoofPoint program and the RRP designation help me validate to my clients proven design standards and detailing, as well as help ensure my clients are getting the most durable and sustainable roof systems available.”

If you would like to learn more about RoofPoint and the RRP program, please visit the RoofPoint website, RoofPoint.org. It contains the following detailed materials:

    ▪▪ Information about the function, structure and content of the RoofPoint Guideline.
    ▪▪ A comprehensive database of all certified RoofPoint projects in North America.
    ▪▪ Detailed instructions how to become an RRP, including a free copy of the RRP Program Manual and application form.
    ▪▪ Free online training videos about RoofPoint, including “Introduction to RoofPoint”, “Scoring RoofPoint Projects” and “Submitting RoofPoint Projects”.

The Center encourages all building owners and facility managers to work with RRPs to obtain appropriate, environmentally friendly roof systems.

Local Branding Can Trump National Competitors

The marketing game can certainly be complex. With hundreds of tools, thousands of options and one big learning curve in between, it’s easy to be inundated.

Throw in some big conglomerate-sized competitors and it’s downright daunting.

Nevertheless, local contractors actually have an advantage. They are in an incredible position to build the very best of brands. All they need to do is start!

SEE THE OPPORTUNITY: A BIG BRAND

Why do people choose big-name brands over competitors? Because they know what to expect.

The bar is set pretty low for blowing customers out of the water with service, quality and efficiency. However, when you can create a truly great customer experience, people will remember it. Customers tend to expect greatness to come from those companies that put forth an appealing and professional image. Their branding gets remembered. And the brands that get remembered are usually the ones that succeed.

A major flaw that many small businesses and contractors fail to recognize is that their brand is not memorable. Maybe they use initials for their company name or have bland truck-wrap designs. Maybe their website looks like it was made in 1995 or their brochure is full of grammatical errors. Whatever the case may be, there is always room for improvement.

A big brand excites and reassures. It doesn’t lead to skepticism or distrust. You can beat out the bigger companies when it comes to delivering personable, reliable and memorable service in your community. You just need to get your visual presence to reflect that.

So how do you make that happen?

PROFESSIONAL LOOK, PERSONAL FEEL

Customers want a service that’s human and personalized. But they also want an outfit that looks the part. The challenge is how to blend the two.

If you think aspects of your service, like tidy uniforms, clean service equipment and a slick-looking company truck, don’t matter, you’re severely missing out. Thoughtful service can help get your company’s reputation in good standing. Yet it’s only when you’ve got a brand that matches your high-quality service that you can expect to crush the competition.

Put customer woes to bed by taking hold of your brand and getting a professionally designed logo. The degree of aesthetic quality and industry-appropriate imagery will position your name as an immediate authority.

UPDATED AND INTEGRATED

Does your website and digital presence reflect your most current services and information? In 2014, this is a must!

You lose customers when you default on your brand promise by providing misleading information or not living up to expectations. Ignorance of an error is no excuse; customers will be disappointed and frustrated when certain expectations are not met. This is business.

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From Screw-down to Standing-seam Metal Roofing

Time to reroof an old screw-down metal roof? Are you thinking about upgrading to a new standing-seam roof? Great idea! Today’s new standing-seam roofs are truly state-of-the-art; available in many profiles and finishes; and, more importantly, address many of the issues encountered in older generation screw-down metal roofs.

Caulk, roof coating and tar patches were used to cover leaking fasteners and panel end laps.

Caulk, roof coating and tar patches were used to cover leaking fasteners and panel end laps.

The screw-down metal roof and wall panel has been the backbone of the metal building industry since its inception and still represents a significant part of the total market. Screw-down panels are lightweight, durable, inexpensive and strong enough to span up to 5 feet between structural supports. Screw-down roofs and walls also have a wonderful physical property: The panels can and frequently are used as “diaphragm bracing,” securely holding the building’s roof purlins and wall girts in position, adding rigidity to the structure in much the same way drywall strengthens stud walls. This is a huge material—and labor—cost saver!

The early systems were not without problems, however; much of the technology we take for granted today did not exist in the early years of pre-engineered buildings. Many roofs during the late ’60s thru early ’80s were installed using 10-year life fasteners to secure a 30-plus-year life roof.

The fastener issue seems crazy today given the numerous inexpensive, long-life, weathertight, self-drilling screws available. Back when I started in the metal building industry, you could have the newly developed “self-drilling” cadmium fasteners or “self-tapping” stainless. Self-tapping meant you had to pre-drill a hole in the panel and purlin to install it—a much slower and more expensive process. Most of us used the less expensive but (unknown to us at the time) fairly short-life cadmium-coated fasteners and often never provided the option of a stainless upgrade to our customers.

Another shortcoming with screw-down roof panels is that, generally speaking, screw-down panels on metal buildings should be a maximum length of about 80 feet. Longer roof-panel runs frequently suffered rips or slots in the metal caused by expansion and contraction. Metal panels expand and contract at a rate of about 1 inch per 100 feet of panel run. This is normally absorbed by the back and forth rolling of the roof purlin and some panel bowing, but after 80 feet or so they can no longer absorb the movement resulting in trauma to the panels and trim. I have frequently seen this 80-foot limit exceeded.

a rusted fastener has caused the surrounding metal to corrode and fail.

A rusted fastener has caused the surrounding
metal to corrode and fail.

Standing-seam panels eliminate both of these shortcomings. The panels are attached to “sliding clips”. These clips are screwed to the purlins and seamed into the side laps of the panels securing them and thus the panels have very few, if any, exposed fasteners. The clips maintain a solid connection with the structure of the building while still allowing the panels, which can be 150 feet or longer, to move with expansion and contraction forces without damage.

This is great news for the building owner: You’re providing a more watertight roof, few if any penetrations, and expansion and contraction ability. It does come with a catch, however; standing-seam panels, because they move, do not provide diaphragm strength. The building’s roof purlins must have significantly more bridging and bracing to keep them in their correct and upright position. This is automatically taken care of in new building design but when it comes time to reroof an older building, removing the existing screw-down roof could remove the diaphragm bracing it once provided and make the building structurally unsound. Yes, that’s bad!

PHOTOS: ROOF HUGGER INC.

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Vapor Retarders

The need for, use and design of a vapor retarder in the design of a roof system used to be a hotly debated topic. It appears now—when vapor retarders are needed more than ever—the design community seems to have lost interest, which is not good, considering how codes and standards (altered through concerns for energy savings) have changed how buildings are designed, constructed and operated. Most notably, positive building pressures are changing the game.

If not controlled, constructiongenerated moisture can have deleterious effects on new roof systems.

PHOTO 1: If not controlled, construction-generated
moisture can have
deleterious effects on new
roof systems.

A vapor retarder is a material or system that is designed as part of the roof system to substantially reduce the movement of water vapor into the roof system, where it can condense. Everyone knows that water in roof systems is never a positive. Typically, a vapor retarder has to have a perm rating of 1.0 or less to be successful. Through my recent observations, the lack of or poorly constructed vapor retarders contribute to ice under the membrane, soaked insulation facers, destabilized insulation, rusting roof decks, dripping water down screw-fastener threads, compromised fiber board and perlite integrity, mold on organic facers and loss of adhesion on adhered systems, just to name a few. Oh, and did I fail to mention the litigation that follows?

The codes’ “air-barrier requirements” have confused roof system designers. Codes and standards are being driven by the need for energy savings and, as a consequence, buildings are becoming tighter and tighter, as well as more sophisticated. This article will discuss preventing air and vapor transport of interior conditioned air into the roof system and the need for a vapor retarder. The responsibility of incorporating a vapor retarder or air retarder into a roof system is that of the licensed design professional and not that of the contractor or roof system material supplier.

It should be noted that all vapor retarders are air barriers but not all air barriers are vapor retarders. In so much that the roof membrane can often serve as an air barrier, it does nothing to prevent this interior air transport.

WHEN TO USE A VAPOR RETARDER

So the question arises: “When is it prudent to use a vapor retarder?” This is not a simple question and has been complicated by codes, standards, costs and building construction, changing roof membranes and confusion about air barriers. Then, there is the difference in new-construction design and roof removal and replacement design. Historically, it was said that a vapor retarder should be used if the interior use of the building was “wet”, such as a pool room, kitchen, locker shower rooms, etc.; outside temperature in the winter was 40 F or below; or when in doubt, leave it out. In my experience, changes in the building and construction industry have now made the determination criteria more complex.

I find there are typically three primary scenarios that suggest a vapor barrier is prudent. The first is the interior use of the building. The second is consideration for the control of construction-generated moisture, so that the roof can make it to the building’s intended use (see photo 1). The third consideration is the sequence of construction. In all three situations I like to specify a robust vapor retarder that “dries in” the building so that interior work and construction work above the vapor retarder can take place without compromising the finished roof. Consider the following:

BUILDING USE

This characteristic is often the most determinant. If the interior use of the building requires conditioned air and has relative-humidity percentages great enough to condense if the exterior temperatures get cold enough, a vapor retarder is needed to prevent the movement of this conditioned air into the roof system where it can condense and become problematic.

Most designers consider building use only in their design thinking, and it is often in error as the roof system can be compromised during construction and commissioning (through interior building flushing, which can drive moist air into the roof system) before occupancy.

To seal two-ply asphaltic felts set in hot asphalt on a concrete roof deck, an asphaltic glaze coat was applied at the end of the day. Because of the inherent tackiness of the asphalt until it oxidizes, Hutch has been specifying a smooth-surfaced modified bitumen cap sheet, eliminating the glaze coat.

PHOTO 2: To seal two-ply asphaltic felts set in hot asphalt on a concrete roof deck, an asphaltic glaze coat was applied at the end of the day. Because of the
inherent tackiness of the asphalt until it oxidizes, Hutch has been specifying a smooth-surfaced modified bitumen cap
sheet, eliminating the glaze coat.

CONTROL OF CONSTRUCTION-GENERATED MOISTURE

I have seen roof systems on office buildings severely compromised by construction- generated moisture caused by concrete pours, combustion heaters, block laying, fireproofing, drywall taping and painting. Thus, a simple vapor retarder should be considered in these situations to control rising moisture vapor during construction, which includes the flushing of the building if required for commissioning.

CONSTRUCTION SEQUENCING AND MATERIALS

Building construction takes place year round. It is unfortunate decision makers in the roofing industry who are pushing low-VOC and/or water-based adhesives do not understand this; problems with their decisions are for another article. If the roof is to be installed in late fall (in the Midwest) and interior concrete work and/or large amounts of moisture-producing construction, such as concrete-block laying, plastering, drywall taping or painting, are to take place, a vapor retarder should be considered.

How will the building, especially the façades, be constructed? Will they be installed after the finished roof? This creates a scenario for a damaged “completed” roof system.

PHOTOS: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

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New VOC Regulations Threatened the Quality of Roofing Assemblies until the Roofing Industry Became Involved

Ellen Thorp, associate executive director of the EPDM Roofing Association, makes it a point to be responsive to the many inquiries she gets. Most deal with routine requests for information about EPDM, but one phone call Thorp fielded six years ago from one of ERA’s member companies stood out from the rest. Ultimately, it changed the way ERA and the roofing industry do business.

A manufacturer’s rep had heard from a customer in Connecticut that the state was about to implement VOC regulations. The problem: The new regulations would ban some of the adhesives, sealants, and primers essential to installing EPDM and other roofing products, and there were no substitute products available to meet the new standards. If the new regulations went into effect as scheduled, they threatened to negatively impact the safety and quality of roofing assemblies in the affected area and the roofing industry as a whole.

The proposed regulations were part of an effort by the Ozone Transport Commission, or OTC, to achieve federally mandated air-quality standards in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The OTC was created under the Clean Air Act to develop solutions for the New England states, as well as Delaware; Maryland; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Virginia; and Washington, D.C. At the time of OTC’s creation, most of these states had not attained federally mandated ozone standards, and the region lagged behind other parts of the U.S. in achieving compliance.

As part of its initial work, OTC developed a Model Rule for Adhesives and Sealants, based on regulations used in California, incorporating provisions effective in the climactic and market conditions of that state. At the time of the phone call to Thorp, the OTC had released the model rule, and states were beginning to draft their own regulations that included implementation dates within the next year. “The VOC limits the OTC was proposing would have required products that did not exist in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic,” Thorp explains. “It was also concerning that they were basing the limits on California regulations. The climate in the Northeast is very different than in California, so we didn’t feel it was good science to be creating a model rule based on a place that had a completely different climate.”

Thorp and the ERA member companies were very interested in working with state regulators. “It certainly is our priority to reduce VOC emissions wherever possible, but it also is important to us to have regulations that our industry could work with and are based on the best available science,” she says. In fact, products that would meet the new regulations were in development but were not yet available. In addition, the new adhesives and sealants would require new or modified application techniques. That meant the roofing industry needed time to train thousands of roofing contractors.

ERA’s first step was to support its assertion that the climate of the Northeast differed dramatically from that of California. ERA hired Jim Hoff of Tegnos Research Inc. to review weather data and the effects the weather has on low-VOC products. “At ERA’s expense, we assembled relevant scientific data and provided it to the state regulators,” Thorp adds.

ERA worked with regulators in each state, sharing the results of its research. ERA provided the state environmental protection and air quality bureaus with detailed information about what sealants were available and explained the time needed to train roofing contractors. Working together, the regulatory bodies and ERA were able to agree on a phased-in or seasonal approach. For instance, in a majority of the states, the new low-VOC products were required initially only in the summer for three months. The year after, they were required for five months. Then, the following year, they were required year-round. Once these states had found success with this approach, others followed suit. “We explained to the regulators the importance of being consistent since many roofing companies do work across multiple states, especially in the Northeast where the states are small and roofing companies are likely to work across state lines,” Thorp notes.

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A Roofer’s Guide to Safely Navigating an OSHA Inspection

Almost every American can recite his or her Miranda rights. We have all seen enough cop dramas and world’s wildest police chases on prime-time television to know that when the police, FBI or other law-enforcement agencies get involved that we have the right to remain silent, and we know that everything we say can and will be used against us in a court of law. Unfortunately, many roofing contractors in the construction industry do not remember their rights when an OSHA inspector arrives at their job sites, and this can lead to hefty fines. It is very important for residential and commercial roofing contractors to remember OSHA inspectors are adversaries when they visit your job site, and they are not inspecting your equipment and interviewing the crew out of curiosity. When an OSHA inspector arrives onsite, he or she is usually there to gather evidence to issue a citation.

One of the most discouraging situations that we have seen from OSHA’s recent push for larger fines and more citations occurs when honest men and women in the roofing industry open their arms to OSHA inspectors who arrive at the job. Roofing contractors and their crews are not criminals, and most truly have nothing to hide. The majority of contractors in the industry are hesitant to take a firm stance against an apparently well-to-do government agent on their job site. However, a roofer who opens up and allows OSHA inspectors free and unlimited access to a construction site is making a costly mistake. Therefore, it is important to remember that when OSHA visits on your next project, there are a few key questions that every roofing contractor needs to be able to answer about the inspection.

WHY IS OSHA ON MY JOB SITE?

OSHA will investigate a job site for a number of reasons. Inspectors will show up if an employee has issued a complaint against you, if there is a recent fatality or if there is an imminent threat identified. However, in recent months, OSHA has been after
the residential and commercial roofing industry through a systematic targeting method. The dangers of fall-related injuries in the industry have been well-documented, and this has prompted inspectors in your area to be on the lookout for roofers. Additionally, roofers are the easiest to cite due to the fact that roofing is a highly visible construction trade and an inspector does not have to use much effort to determine the likelihood of a dangerous situation that needs inspecting.

DO I HAVE TO COMPLY? HOW SHOULD I COMPLY? WHAT HAPPENS IF I REFUSE OSHA ACCESS?

First and foremost, you need to know that OSHA has a legal right to inspect your job site. OSHA has what is called “administrative probable cause” to inspect and investigate your project. OSHA’s probable cause is more easily obtained than that of other agencies. An officer of city, state or federal law enforcement needs a much more specific probable cause to enter a private citizen’s property. When an active construction job is taking place, there is an inherent risk of danger and injury, and this gives OSHA all the administrative probable cause it needs.

This is not to say that you or your site superintendent does not have the right to deny OSHA access to the project and demand that the inspector get a warrant. The site superintendent has the option to consent to OSHA’s inspection or deny the inspector access to the project. The superintendent is well within his or her rights to tell the inspector to get a warrant. This is not an easy fix, however. If you tell OSHA to get a warrant, it most certainly will. Because of OSHA’s broad power to oversee safety within the U.S., the agency can obtain a warrant from a judge or magistrate. Once OSHA obtains a warrant for a site inspection, its inspection can become much more invasive. This means OSHA inspectors can get permission from a judge to examine documents; conduct extensive interviews; and also perform scientific tests on items, such as air quality, presence of combustible material or any other danger.

The bottom line is that it is rarely a good idea to tell an OSHA compliance officer to get a warrant. The reasoning behind this has to do with the scope of OSHA’s inspection rights under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR demands that OSHA’s inspection be “reasonable.” This essentially means that the agency is limited to inspect only the men, equipment and materials that are within “plain sight.” “Plain sight” is a doctrine borrowed from criminal law and the Fourth Amendment, which says that a government agent may not sample or manipulate anything that is not within his or her reasonable line of sight. If an agent violates this doctrine, it is possible all the information he or she obtained during the inspection may be suspect.

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Substrate Boards

The third installment in my series on the roof system is about the substrate board. (To read my first two articles, “Roofs Are Systems” and “Roof Decks”, see the January/February issue, page 52, and the March/April issue, page 54, respectively.) For the purpose of this article, we will define the substrate board as the material that is placed upon the roof deck prior to the placement of thermal insulation. It often is used in part to support vapor retarders and air barriers (which will be discussed in my next article in the September/October issue).

The type of substrate board should be chosen based on the roof-deck type, interior building use, installation time of year and the cover material to be placed upon it.

The type of substrate board should be chosen based on the roof-deck type, interior building
use, installation time of year and the cover material to be placed upon it.

Substrate boards come in many differing material compositions:
• Gypsum Board
• Modified Fiber Reinforced Gypsum
• Plywood
• High-density Wood Fiber
• Mineral Fiber
• Perlite

Substrate boards come in varying thicknesses, as well: 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 5/8 inch and 1 inch. The thickness is often chosen based on the need for the board to provide integrity over the roof deck, such as at flute spans on steel roof decks.

TOUGHNESS

The type of substrate board should be chosen based on the roof-deck type, interior building use, installation time of year and the cover material to be placed upon it. For example, vapor retarder versus thermal insulation and the method of attachment. Vapor retarders can be adhered with asphalt, spray foam, bonding adhesive, etc. The substrate board must be compatible with these. You wouldn’t want to place a self-adhering vapor retarder on perlite or hardboard because the surface particulate is easily parted from the board. Meanwhile, hot asphalt would impregnate the board and tie the vapor-retarder felts in better. The substrate board must have structural integrity over the flutes when installed on steel roof decks. The modified gypsum boards at 1/2 inch can do this; fiberboards cannot. If the insulation is to be mechanically fastened, a substrate board may not be required.

It should be more common to increase the number of fasteners to prevent deformation of the board, which will affect the roof system’s performance.

It should be more common to increase the number of fasteners to prevent deformation of the board, which will affect the roof system’s performance.

The substrate board should be able to withstand construction-generated moisture that may/can be driven into the board. Note: In northern climates, a dew-point analysis is required to determine the correct amount of insulation above the substrate board and vapor retarder, so condensation does not occur below the vapor retarder and in the substrate board.

Substrate boards are often placed on the roof deck and a vapor retarder installed upon them. This condition is often used to temporarily get the building “in the dry”. This temporary roof then is often used as a work platform for other trades, such as masonry, carpentry, glazers and ironworkers, to name a few. The temporary roof also is asked to support material storage. Consequently, the substrate board must be tough enough to resist these activities.

The most common use of a substrate board is on steel and wood decks. On steel roof decks, the substrate board provides a continuous smooth surface to place an air or vapor retarder onto. It also can provide a surface to which the insulation above can be adhered. Substrate boards on wood decks (plywood, OSB, planking) are used to increase fire resistance, prevent adhesive from dripping into the interior, provide a clean and acceptable surface onto which an air or vapor retarder can be adhered, or as a surface onto which the insulation can be adhered.

PHOTOS: HUTCHINSON DESIGN GROUP LTD.

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