Summer Safety Tips for Roofing Workers

Summer, the prime season for inspections and reroofing projects, is here. Before dropping the phone to drag out the ladders and survey the scene for broken flashing and missing shingles, here are five important summer safety rules every roofing contractor needs to respect before venturing out into the summer sun.

Before dropping the phone to drag out the ladders and survey the scene for broken flashing and missing shingles, here are five important summer safety rules every Florida roofing contractor needs to respect before venturing out into the summer sun.

Before dropping the phone to drag out the ladders and survey the scene for broken flashing and missing shingles, there are important summer safety rules every roofing contractor needs to respect.

Summer Safety Tips

1. Early To Rise
No one can control the weather, know how hot the day is going to get or predict with 100 percent accuracy when it will start to rain in the afternoon. However, contractors can control their day by getting an early morning start to avoid as much of the sun’s summer rays and afternoon rain as possible. Getting the bulk of the work done before the hottest point of the day is Roofing 101—and the key to surviving in summer heat.

2. Hydration Is Key
As reported by The New York Times, “Last year (2014) was the hottest on earth since record-keeping began.” The trend is continuing, with the warmest winter since 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center. What does this mean for the summer of 2015? It probably means that a meteorology degree won’t be needed to predict the long heat wave that is undoubtedly in the forecast for this summer.

The best tip for surviving the extreme summer heat is staying hydrated. The human body is made up of 60 percent water, which is why the body is dependent on water to function. Water intake helps digest food, take nutrients and oxygen to all the cells of the body, and lubricate joints while cushioning organs.

Standing on the roof, directly in the path of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, causes the body to sweat. And while sweating regulates body temperature, excessive sweating without replenishment can lead to dehydration, fainting and many other serious ailments. Drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after every roofing project should be the plan of action for all contractors working in the heat.

3. Keep It Cool
Standing on top of a roof, there is usually no shade to protect a roofer from the sun’s rays. Taking an ample amount of breaks in the shade, or air conditioning if available, while working through the hot sun is an important part in staying hydrated throughout the day.

4. Dress Appropriately
Appropriate clothes are the body’s first line of defense against the sun. Shirts designed to keep you cool, such Dri-Fit or ClimaCool, are a great way to beat the heat in the summer. These fabrics are breathable and wick moisture from the body.

Don’t forget about the importance of a good pair of shoes. Finding shoes that have a great resistance to wear-and-tear and have a slip-resistant sole are two important features for roofing footwear attire.

Finally, sunscreen is a roofer’s best short-term defense against burns and long-term safeguard when it comes to preventing skin cancer. To aid in a roofer’s fight against dehydration and other ailments caused by the sun, a layer of sunscreen should cover all body parts not shielded by clothing—it is the final piece to every roofer’s summer uniform.

5. Rain, Rain, Go Away
Rain is a huge hindrance for roofers. Slipping and falling is just one reason why sites like BankRate.com and BusinessInsider.com rank roofing as one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. So although the heat is dangerous, working in the rain is also very risky.

Wet shingles are heavier to carry onto a roof, felt is more likely to bubble up or rip, and the dangers of tripping and falling are real. And while it may be tempting to try and save an hour or two, the risk is not worth the reward. Avoid all of these potential hazards and do not roof in the rain.

Safety in the Sunshine

Make the most of the summer weather, but don’t throw caution to the wind. Get an early start, stay hydrated, take plenty of breaks, dress appropriately and be careful in the rain. It’s every contractor’s guide to conquering summer.

PHOTO: HitchClip

Buying New vs. Used Equipment: What’s Best for You?

Successful businesses are run by people who are prudent with how money is spent or reinvested into the business. The bigger the expenditure, the more research may be required to make the best decision.

The purchase of rollforming equipment is certainly a major investment in your business. Rollformers are often your operation’s most integral piece of equipment, so you want to make sure you’re purchasing a rollformer that will meet all your demands or can be updated to meet those requirements.

Rollformers are often your operation’s most integral piece of equipment, so you want to make sure you’re purchasing a rollformer that will meet all your demands or can be updated to meet those requirements.

Rollformers are often your operation’s most integral piece of equipment, so you want to make sure you’re purchasing a rollformer that will meet all your demands or can be updated to meet those requirements.


Is a new piece of equipment the best investment, or is there an opportunity to purchase a quality used rollformer at a significant savings? Being an OEM, obviously, I’m in favor of a customer buying new equipment—it eliminates a lot of worries and potential headaches. Purchasing a rollformer is more complex than purchasing a standalone production unit. Rollforming machines are one component in a system that has many moving parts; they require a great deal of synchronization to produce accurate components at relatively high speeds. The use of an OEM rollforming system manufacturer is highly recommended, if for no other reason than your own protection.

Having said that, there are obvious situations where the purchase of a good piece of used equipment makes sense. Purchasing used equipment is a viable market because the brand name machines are built to last. There exists a certain psychology out there, it’s the first inclination to look for a deal, for something used.

One good place to purchase used equipment is from someone who needs to downsize their business or perhaps to raise cash. A machine from a company in a different geographic market could make a great buy, price-wise, and you could purchase a machine that is ready to go, ready to start producing. One advantage with purchasing equipment in this fashion is the buyer can usually see the machine in action before writing a check. Plus, your production start is only dependent on how long it takes to transport and set up the equipment. Waiting for custom-made equipment from an OEM may take up to six months. You’re making money only when your machine is up and running.

A word of caution with purchasing used equipment from an individual … make sure there are no liens or encumbrances.

Another viable option for purchasing used equipment is at an auction. A general rule is that you should not pay more than 60 percent of the price of a new machine. That also applies when purchasing equipment from a dealer, which can be even trickier. Buyer beware is the general rule when buying from a dealer because you’re buying “as is” and “where is.” You don’t get to see the machine in operation, so you can’t know what problems you may have to deal with.

Purchasing used equipment from an individual or a dealer also means you have no OEM warranty and OEM technical support and training. We’ve had customers who required a second round of training … you don’t know what you don’t know until you turn on the machine.

With the purchase of used equipment, you’re also missing out on the newest technology, a part of the life cycle of the machine, as well as any depreciation allowance. Technology is changing all the time. The newest technology enables your machine to run a higher speeds, produce the most accurate products and allow for the greatest amount of flexibility with the geometry of products with the same tooling.

An often overlooked consideration when purchasing used equipment is the quality of your in-house maintenance staff. Maintaining these machines is vital to keeping them running. I’ve seen customers who have the staff to make it work and I’ve seen companies whose idea of maintenance is running the machine until it breaks. That’s zero-maintenance and it ends up being expensive.

The purchase price of used equipment is usually only part of the investment. Most likely, you still will require an OEM to rebuild the equipment, add tooling and, in most cases, new electronics. These can be challenging items to budget, requiring more of your time in the form of research. OEMs are certainly capable of rebuilding basic machines and augmenting the entire system with new pieces of updated equipment, electronics and technologies.

We refurbish equipment, both ours and rollformers manufactured by others. Most of it ranges from 10 to 30 years old. People come to us with machines they want us to get running at 80 feet per minute. That’s an unknown with used equipment. It doesn’t matter how big the motor is, if the gears will only allow a machine to run 40 feet per minute, that’s all you’re going to get out of it.

Experts can even be fooled by the condition of used equipment until they see it running. Without seeing rollformers in operation, you don’t know the condition of the bearings and if all tooling is straight.

Experts can even be fooled by the condition of used equipment until they see it running. Without seeing rollformers in operation, you don’t know the condition of the bearings and if all tooling is straight.


Experts can even be fooled by the condition of used equipment until they see it running. Without seeing rollformers in operation, you don’t know the condition of the bearings and if all tooling is straight.

Finally, beware of any equipment that was stored outside. If someone comes to us with equipment that’s been stored outside and wants to know what’s worth, we tell them whatever they can get for scrap. If it sat outside for any amount of time, that’s what it’s worth. Damaging rust is not always visible to the naked eye, so it will require an in-depth inspection of the gear boxes. It’s probably not worth the potential problems.

At the end of the day, it’s a cost-benefit situation. If your volume of production justifies new, buy new. The life cycle of a new machine is highly predictable when you’re in control of the maintenance.

If anticipated volume will be low, a used line may make more sense. However, please take into consideration if the brand is still in business. If not, spare parts can become a huge issue … not to mention the obvious lack of support.

PHOTOS: Samco Machinery

Redefining Sustainability

My company is currently in the process of restoring more than 1,600 window sashes for a large historic project in Buffalo, N.Y. As I recently walked through our plant and saw the thousands of windows in various stages of repair, I reflected upon how we were repairing windows that are more than 135-years old. This made me think about the current state of the construction industry and what our expectations are for the life of a building structure and the components that make up that structure. During the past 10 years, there has been a great deal of talk about green buildings and sustainability, but how many of these “green” commercial or residential buildings are designed or constructed to last for centuries? When will the life cycle of the structure and the construction materials themselves become factors in the sustainability criteria? It seems to me that more effort is placed on whether a material is recyclable than whether it can perform over the long haul. It is time that the design community, manufacturers and construction processes begin to consider the life of the building if we are truly going to incorporate sustainability in our industry.

Back in 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council developed the LEED green building rating system as a way to guide building owners to be environmentally accountable and to use resources responsibly. The LEED system has had a profound effect upon the design community by motivating advancements in energy efficiency, use of recyclable materials, incorporation of natural daylight and reuse of water. The LEED program made the word “sustainability” a household term over the past ten years, but has it truly redefined sustainable design? I would submit that LEED has been most successful in motivating changes in how structures consume natural resources and how the structure can be recycled at the end of its useful life. Very little emphasis has been put on designing a structure and using component materials that will last for many generations.

I like the definition of sustainability from author and professor Geir B. Asheim. “Sustainability is defined as a requirement of our generation to manage the resource base such that the average quality of life that we ensure ourselves can potentially be shared by all future generations.” I would submit that true sustainability in the construction industry implies that we construct edifices that can be used for many generations. It does not mean that we build a structure that has to have its major components replaced every 20 years.

Take windows for example. The major window manufacturers have developed designs that require the replacement of the entire window once the insulated glass seal has failed. Although the window is made of materials that can be recycled, it isn’t designed for multi-generational, long-term use. Changes in the glazing details that would facilitate glass replacement could dramatically extend the lifespan of these products. Other manufacturers use inexpensive materials such as vinyl for major structural members that have spurious life expectancy. Ask any window manufacturer for the life expectancy of their products and they will refer to their 10 year product and 20 year glass warranties. Is it unreasonable to expect a window to last for more than 20 years? I don’t think so.

Other products such as appliances, finishes, roofing, HVAC, lighting, siding, etc. also have very limited life expectancies. Some promote lifetime warranties that are so burdened with legalese they are rendered useless. By limiting the warranty to the original purchaser, prorating the warranty every year, and limiting exposure, the warranty actually protects the manufacturer more than the purchaser. American manufacturers have become more concerned with cutting costs than building better products. If manufacturers made changes in designs and the base materials used in fabrication, they could dramatically improve the expected years of service. Although many of the changes in materials will increase prices, there is a market for more durable products.

It’s time that the construction industry begins to take the life cycle of our new structures more seriously. We need to make advances in the quality of our construction designs and materials for the industry to truly become driven by sustainability. We should view our work as a testament for future generations rather than a disposable structure that will eventually be long forgotten.

This blog post first appeared on Re-View’s Window Review Blog.

Sustainable Home Features a Metal Roof for Durability and Energy Efficiency

A Metal Sales roof system has been chosen to top an ambitious Net-Zero building. Ronda and Nigel Farrar chose to work with Metal Sales on their 3,000-square-foot home in Escondido, Calif. The home overlooks Lake Hodges and was designed to be a model for green design by utilizing commercially available green building products.

The Farrar's dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The Farrar’s dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The Farrars are the owners of the new home and its surrounding sustainable farm. The home is one of San Diego County’s first LEED Platinum homes and is ENERGY STAR qualified. Their dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

“We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy,” explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. “Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building. Metal roofing also makes our home safer in the event of an earthquake or fire. Due to the reflectivity and energy efficiency of the metal, the roof contributes to a comfortable, energy-efficient living space.”

The home features 5,000 square feet of 24 gauge Magna-Loc standing seam roof panels in Antique Patina from Metal Sales. More than 100 panel colors from Metal Sales are listed with ENERGY STAR and improve energy efficiency by reflecting sunlight. This provides an energy savings by reducing the amount of energy needed for cooling the home. The steel panels are also 100 percent recyclable and contain a high percentage of recycled material. Each of these factors contributes to the home’s LEED Platinum certification.

"We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy," explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. "Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building."

“We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy,” explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. “Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building.”

“The longevity, reflectivity and energy-efficient qualities of a metal roof make it an ideal choice for a sustainable home,” says Drew Hubbell, owner of Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. “The cool metal roof reflects heat, reducing cooling needs and allowed for easy installation of the photovoltaic panels without penetrating the roof. The standing seam roof also fit the architectural style of the home with an antique patina finish. The simple lines of the roof fit in with the modern design of the home and complements the home’s exterior.”

The project team consisted of homeowners Rhonda and Nigel Farrar; architect Hubbell & Hubbell Architects, San Diego; general contractor Gaitaud Construction, San Diego; and roofing contractor Victor Contracting & Roofing, Escondido. For more information about the Farrar Green Home and Sustainable Farm, visit the Farrar Green Home website.

PERC Provides Safety Tips for Using Propane Heaters on Job Sites

During the cold winter months, construction professionals who use temporary, propane-powered heating equipment on the job site can be more productive, making it easier to finish projects on time and on budget. In addition to providing more comfortable working conditions, propane-powered heaters can also maintain the ambient temperatures necessary for common tasks like drywall installation or painting. However, like any portable heating device, propane-powered heaters must be used and maintained properly.

A temporary propane unit that pumps hot air through existing ductwork.

A temporary propane unit that pumps hot air through existing ductwork.


“Considering the cold and snowy weather that much of the country has experienced lately, it’s an ideal time to remind builders and remodelers how important it is to properly install, maintain and use propane-powered heaters,” says Bridget Kidd, director of residential and commercial programs for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “By following a few simple guidelines, they can ensure optimum job site performance, comfort and safety.”

PERC offers the following advice to help construction professionals stay safe and warm this winter:

At sites using propane cylinders to power heaters:
  • Ensure that propane cylinders are in good condition without bulges, dents, excessive rust or signs of fire damage.
  • Always transport cylinders to the job site in an upright and secured position.
  • Do not use a cylinder indoors that holds more than 100 pounds of propane.
  • Connect no more than three 100-pound propane cylinders to one manifold inside a building. All manifolds should be separated by at least 20 feet of space.
  • Check all cylinders for leaks with a suitable leak detector solution—not soap and water, which may have corrosive properties.
At sites using external propane tanks to power heaters:
  • Locate tanks a sufficient distance from property lines and the structure under construction. Consult local building codes to ensure proper compliance.
  • Place the tank on stable ground, and when locating the tank consider the potential effects of freezing and thawing.
  • Use rigid piping from the tank to the building. Flexible tubing may be safely used indoors.
  • Have a qualified propane technician ensure that all connections between the tank and heater are free of leaks.
  • Protect tanks and piping on the work site from the possibility of vehicle impact.
  • Do not store combustible material within 10 feet of any tank.
When using salamanders and other propane heaters:
  • Choose a heater that’s sized appropriately for the square footage you want to heat.
  • Keep heaters away from potentially combustible materials.
  • Only operate heaters in ventilated areas. Make sure there’s sufficient air both for combustion and to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
  • Use only those heaters with 100 percent safety shut-off valves.
  • When the project is complete, first turn off gas at the container valve to drain hoses or pipes before shutting off the heater itself.
  • Only allow a qualified LP gas technician to make any repairs to faulty equipment.

While kerosene and electric heaters are also available, propane is the cleanest and smartest fuel choice for job site heating. Kerosene heaters can produce an undesirable film on nearby equipment or walls. Electric heaters can’t generate nearly as many BTUs as propane-fueled heaters and they put additional load on the mobile generators used to produce electricity for power tools used around the job site.

“When it comes to heating a temporary construction site, and for other uses around the job site, propane’s benefits are clear,” Kidd adds. “Because it’s a low-carbon, alternative fuel, construction professionals who use propane-powered heaters, generators, light towers and other equipment can maintain a cleaner environment without sacrificing power or performance.”

For more information about the benefits of using clean, efficient propane on residential or commercial building sites, learning about new propane-powered products, or considering the financial incentives available on propane equipment purchases, visit the Build With Propane website.

Snow-retention System Designed Specifically for New Elementary School

Alton Hall Elementary School, Galloway, Ohio, recognized the need for snow retention and specified the Sno Barricade from Sno Gem Inc. to be attached to the standing-seam roof.

Alton Hall Elementary School, Galloway, Ohio, recognized the need for snow retention and specified the Sno Barricade from Sno Gem Inc. to be attached to the standing-seam roof.

Providing a safe and healthy environment for students is clearly a high-ranking consideration in the construction of an elementary school. Architects for the Alton Hall Elementary School in Galloway, Ohio, recognized the need for snow retention and specified the Sno Barricade from Sno Gem Inc. to be attached to the standing-seam roof.

“We specified the Sno Barricade because of its proven durability and performance,” says Mike Parkinson, associate project manager at SHP Leading Design of Cincinnati. “We’ve used the Sno Barricade on dozens of projects. I can’t remember the last time it wasn’t on one of our projects. The system is designed specifically for each project by Sno Gem. With the design criteria, they run calculations for the project and prescribed a two-rail system around the entire roof to protect the occupants from potential sliding snow and ice.”

With a layout of the standing-seam metal roof, considering slope, length of run, panel width, annual snowfall and other factors, Sno Gem calculates the best snow-retention solution. “Every metal roofing layout is different and each one requires its own calculations,” notes Jim Carpenter, vice president of Operations at Sno Gem. “Our calculations are based on results obtained from extensive testing of our clamps.”

After receiving the design criteria, Sno Gem ran calculations for the project and prescribed a two-rail system around the entire roof.

After receiving the design criteria, Sno Gem ran calculations for the project and prescribed a two-rail system around the entire roof.

For the Alton Hall Elementary School, the Sno Barricade was prescribed by Sno Gem. Rush Architectural Metal Erectors Inc. of Washington, Pa., installed 1,850 linear feet of the Sno Barricade around 100 percent of the perimeter of the building. R.A.M.E. also installed the Barricade Plate on Alton Hall. The Barricade Plate is an accessory designed to hold back thinner amounts of ice and snow that could pass beneath the bar. The Barricade Plate is installed on the upslope side of the bar in the middle of the panel. It’s held in place by a tek screw, not visible from the ground. Like the Sno Barricade, the Barricade Plate is available in a color to match any roofing panels.

The Barricade Plate is an accessory designed to hold back thinner amounts of ice and snow that could pass beneath the bar.

The Barricade Plate is an accessory designed to hold back thinner amounts of ice and snow that could pass beneath the bar.

“Sliding snow and ice is a dangerous problem building owners don’t have to deal with any more because of engineered snow-retention systems,” adds Albert Rush, owner of R.A.M.E. “The Sno Barricade attaches easily and securely without penetrating the panel, so it doesn’t compromise any roofing warranties. The addition of the Barricade Plate provides peace of mind for the occupants, as well as the school district.”

USGBC and other Code-, Regulation- and Guideline-setting Bodies Are Increasingly Working with Industry

Earlier this year, the USGBC announced a 16-month extension to register products under LEED 2009, prior to the implementation of LEED v4 on Oct. 31, 2016. The action set off speculation, both off and online, about what caused USGBC to act with some calling for a more in-depth explanation for the delay. But the real reason, most likely, was simply stated in USGBC’s own press release: In a survey taken at GreenBuild in late October, 61 percent of respondents—almost two-thirds of those polled—said they are “not ready” or “unsure” if they were ready to pursue LEED v4 and required additional time to prepare. USGBC said it was also getting the same message from the international community.

The response to the USGBC action tended to fall into two camps: those who said the council was caving to the pressure of industry and those who said USGBC was taking a reasonable action after having put forward a complicated, unworkable and unneeded ratings system. Based on my extensive work with code-setting and regulatory bodies, I see a third option emerging, one that bodes well for the environment and the building sector.

During the past year, as part of my job as associate executive director of the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), I have attended and testified at more than 20 hearings held by a broad range of groups, including the IGCC, SCAQMD (the South Coast Air Quality Management District, overseeing much of Southern California) and ASHRAE. Frequently, I have been accompanied by representatives of our member companies, Firestone, Carlisle and Johns Manville. And often I have been joined by members of industry groups, such as the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition.

Collectively, we have offered our findings on a range of issues that are critical to our industry, such as the importance of climate in the choice of roofing color and the need to preserve the builder’s choice when deciding on reflectivity options and the unique qualities of ballasted roofing that should be considered in any code-setting activities. Our testimony is based on meticulous research, as well as on empirical evidence and firsthand knowledge gained from years of experience in the building industry. Increasingly, we find that we are listened to and that our interaction with code-setting and regulatory bodies is a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas, rather than an adversarial give-and-take.

For instance, we worked closely with the Ozone Transport Commission in its efforts to achieve federally mandated clean air standards in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Initially, we pointed out that their proposed regulations would have mandated the use of low-VOC products that were in development but not yet available in the marketplace. And we also demonstrated that the roofing industry would need ample time to train roofing contractors in the use of these new products. We worked with regulators, state by state, and developed a mutually agreed upon seasonal approach. While the process is still ongoing, many state regulators expressed their gratitude for the advice we offered and the expertise we brought to the table.

I am certainly not privy to the inner workings of the USGBC. But their extension of the deadline for the implementation of LEED v4 seems to be part of a trend: The groups who are drawing up codes, regulations, and ratings systems are increasingly working with the building industry and the end results are based on good science and good sense.

Spray Polyurethane Foam: A Key Component to Any Net Zero Solution

SPF has the ability to insulate, air and water seal, as well as control moisture throughout the structure, acting as a single-source solution, reducing the need for multiple products.

SPF has the ability to insulate, air and water seal, as well as control moisture throughout the structure, acting as a single-source solution, reducing the need for multiple products.

In July 2014, California initiated the revision process to the 2016 version of Title 24, California’s building energy efficiency codes, which are designed to move the state’s residential and commercial buildings toward zero net energy (ZNE). All new residential construction is to be ZNE by 2020, and all new commercial buildings are to achieve ZNE by 2030. While aggressive, these goals are achievable with the right design implementation and accessibility to proper building materials.

As one of the world’s most influential economies, the state of California has demonstrated its power in leading the other 49 states in the implementation of progressive initiatives. California traditionally takes an environmental stance with a history of enforcing regulations designed to protect the physical environment and health of the state’s residents. These efforts often result in national trending with other states and municipalities following suit with similar regulations. It is widely anticipated a similar phenomenon will occur with ZNE goals.

The design of a ZNE building focuses on the reduction of energy consumption and on the generation of the structure’s own renewable energy (such as via solar panel solutions). Long-term ZNE begins with a quality building enclosure. High-performance attics and wall systems are a key focus of 2016 Title 24 as they make a significant impact in the reduction of peak cooling demand in structures.

SPF may be installed in a continuous layer, eliminating thermal bypasses, and boasts one of the highest R-values of all insulation options.

SPF may be installed in a continuous layer, eliminating thermal bypasses, and boasts one of the highest R-values of all insulation options.

Because of spray polyurethane foam’s unique attributes, the material is widely recognized as an optimal solution for unvented attics, as well as for roofing, walls and ceilings. SPF has the ability to insulate, air and water seal, as well as control moisture throughout the structure, acting as a single-source solution, reducing the need for multiple products.

Energy loss may occur at various points throughout the roof, walls and ceiling via air leakage. Thus the air-sealing ability of SPF is extremely beneficial when trying to improve energy efficiency.

In roofing, SPF acts as a protective roofing solution and as an insulator.

In roofing, SPF acts as a protective roofing solution and as an insulator.

As a thermal insulator, SPF forms in place and fully adheres, almost completely eliminating the cracks and gaps that allow escape of conditioned air. It may be installed in a continuous layer, eliminating thermal bypasses typically found with cavity insulations and boasts one of the highest R-values of all insulation options.

In roofing, SPF acts as a protective roofing solution and as an insulator. The effectiveness of insulation is measured through moisture control, air leakage, health, safety, durability, comfort and energy efficiency factors, and SPF scores exceptional marks in all.

These combined characteristics are integral to SPF’s ability to contribute to total ZNE solutions—solutions, which will become increasingly necessary as the net zero revolution takes hold across the U.S.

Solar Roof Energy Is the Answer for Mega Cities of the Future

Seven billion people will live and work in urban areas by 2050 and the demand for energy for all these people will be huge. Local production of energy will be needed with building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) key to make cities at least partially self-sufficient with energy. Rapid development in thin-film solar cell efficiency strengthens the business case for BIPV with great opportunities for suppliers of roofing materials and construction companies.

The electricity produced by ‘roof solar energy’ could be used for heating, cooling, running office machinery or even fed back to the grid, earning the building owners money.

The electricity produced by ‘roof solar energy’ could be used for heating, cooling, running office machinery or even fed back to the grid, earning the building owners money.

More than half of the planet’s population lives in urban regions today. This will grow to 75 percent in the next 30 to 35 years. That would mean 7 billion people living in more or less congested areas, all needing shelter, food—and lots of energy.

There is a growing consensus that the mega cities in the future cannot rely entirely on energy produced far away. Besides supply constraints, there are energy losses in the transport of the electricity; logistical nightmares; security issues; and, of course, environmental concerns.

There is a very healthy debate about distributed energy generation, often defined as electricity generation from many small sources. This discussion must be encouraged. We simply cannot solve the energy challenges of tomorrow with energy solutions of yesterday.

The distributed energy discussion has so far mainly centered on local smaller power plants, district energy, more efficient electricity distribution, the ‘smart grid’, etc. That is good. But we must also talk about the potential for local production of renewable energy by the end users on a micro scale, the very individuals who consume all this energy.

What do the end users have in common? Well, they all need a roof over their heads, at home and at work. These roofs can produce renewable energy! So the building industry can play a major role in solving mega cities’ energy challenges.

Building-integrated photovoltaics can be incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, and existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology.

Building-integrated photovoltaics can be incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, and existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology.

Look at an aerial image of a city and you will see an area densely covered by buildings—crisscrossed by roads and the occasional recreational area. All these buildings—houses, apartments, garages, offices, factories, schools and municipal buildings of all sorts—have roofs. New development in solar energy has transformed all these roofs—and even walls—into potential giant solar energy receivers.

The electricity produced by ‘roof solar energy’ could be used for heating, cooling, running office machinery or even fed back to the grid, earning the building owners money.

What I call ‘roof energy’ is building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), one of the fastest-growing segments of the photovoltaic industry. Photovoltaic materials are used to replace (or are added onto) conventional building materials in not only roofs, but also skylights and facades. They can be incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, and existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology.

Traditional wafer-based silicon solar cells are efficient but rigid, thick and heavy, ideal for large solar parks in sparsely populated areas but not in dense cities. They are too heavy for most roofs. However, thin-film solar cells made out of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium metal alloy (CIGS) are thin, light and flexible. They can be made frameless, can be bent, and are ideal for buildings and other structures that are uneven, moving or weak.

The business case for thin-film solar cells is strengthening rapidly since they are becoming increasingly efficient. A Swedish supplier of thin-film solar cell manufacturing equipment has managed to increase the aperture efficiency (the area on the solar panel that collects energy) from 6 percent four years ago to 11 percent two years ago and a record breaking 17 percent today by using a revolutionary all-dry, all vacuum process where all layers are deposited by sputtering.

An office, school, storage facility or factory with a flat roof in a Mediterranean country like Italy could annually yield 1,250 kWh from every kW installed, at a production cost of 7.2 U.S. cents. The production cost would decrease if the roof is slanted by up to 20 percent for an optimal 35-degree angle. The production cost would obviously be higher in colder countries and lower in countries nearer the equator. But even in Sweden the production cost could be as low as 8 cents.

Thin-film solar cells made out of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium metal alloy (CIGS) are thin, light and flexible.

Thin-film solar cells made out of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium metal alloy (CIGS) are thin, light and flexible.

A production cost of 5 to 10 cents is well below the current—not to mention the expected future—electricity prices. There are great variations in the price of electricity today, but many users pay between 10 and 30 cents per kWh (including taxes). Commercial and residential users pay even more.

The $100bn global roofing material market is in a healthy state, growing at 3.7 percent per annum and driven by an uptick in residential building construction (especially reroofing) in developed and developing markets. Here is an excellent opportunity for architects, roofing material suppliers and construction companies to take a leading position in what is destined to be the material of choice for urban planners in the future.

Thin-film BIPV solar energy solutions can be made light and are flexible. They can be fitted or retrofitted onto roofs without perforating the roofs and can be curved or bent. Installation is easy and cost-efficient with no racks or ballast needed. There are no weight constraints and no access limitations (you can walk on the panels). And they can be integrated on bitumen and TPO membranes.

Selling roofing solutions and electricity together opens up to completely new business models: suppliers can offer a discounted roofing price in combination with a stable and independent supply of electricity. Customers can secure electricity price—and get a new roof.

Municipalities and city planners in today’s and tomorrow’s mega cities will make efforts to make their cities greener and more sustainable. It is no wild guess that green buildings with ‘roof energy’ systems will get preferential treatment in public tenders and maybe even subsidies. Building owners will like the prospect of lower energy costs.

So the question to the world’s architects, roof manufacturers and construction companies is: Do you feel lucky? Do you feel confident enough to keep doing business as usual, selling traditional roofs to consumers who might sooner than expected demand energy-producing and cost-saving roofs and buildings? Or will you grab an unparalleled opportunity to gain market share by offering state-of-the-art products that will change the world or at least the way the world’s urban population powers their daily lives?

For me, the answer is simple: If end users can produce part of the energy consumed in a sustainable fashion where they live and work, that would go a long way toward solving the energy and climate challenges of the future. Flexible, efficient, thin-film solar cells for buildings are an integral part of this solution.

Waterproof and Maintenance-free Roof Penetrations

The fewer people with access to the roof, the better chance the roof has at meeting the basic expectation of keeping the elements out of the building.

Pitch pockets are flanged, open-bottomed metal containers, placed around roof penetrations.

Pitch pockets are flanged, open-bottomed metal containers, placed around roof penetrations.

Because they make their living on the roof, commercial roofing installers know how to complete a watertight system, one that does not allow damaging moisture into the building. Unfortunately, when the roofing installer finishes the job, more work, perhaps by other trades, most notably HVAC contractors, may be done with possible impacts on the roofing membrane.

Someone has to get on the roof to install that equipment and at that point it’s going to be an equipment installer, not a roofing installer. It’s important to be aware of who is doing what on the roof!

Attaching equipment to the building structure, through the roof, is the most efficient method of attachment, but often such work is done without consideration of waterproofing concerns. Any attachment penetration must not compromise the integrity of the roofing system.

This is why RoofScreen Manufacturing got into the business: to discover and develop a better method for leak-proof attachment for all types of roofing and building structures.

the caulk and band method, commonly used on round penetrations, which employs a single-ply or soft lead pipe flashing around the penetration.

The caulk and band method is commonly used on round penetrations and employs a single-ply or soft lead pipe flashing around the penetration.

The equipment installer has options. A traditional penetration waterproofing system is what is known as the pitch pocket. Pitch pockets are flanged, open-bottomed metal containers, placed around roof penetrations. They are filled with coal tar pitch, hot asphalt, grout or other chemical sealants. They are effective around odd-shaped penetrations but require maintenance, which means slapping on more sealant when it leaks.

Another method is the caulk and band method, commonly used on round penetrations, which employs a single-ply or soft lead pipe flashing around the penetration. Near the top of the flashing is an adjustable draw-band that clamps the flashing to the penetration. Caulking is applied around the top of the flashing to make the final seal.

Both practices are accepted by the National Roofing Contractors Association. The problem is both require annual or semi-annual maintenance to check if the sealant has cracked or separated from the penetration and addition of sealant as necessary.

RoofScreen offers a patented engineered and leak-proof roof attachment system to ensure the integrity of the roofing system. It starts with a 6- by 6-inch steel base support, available in a variety of lengths to accommodate any insulation thickness. The support is attached with bolts or lag screws to the roof structure through the interior of the base support. Specially fitted flashing boots are then installed and roofed in by a qualified roofing contractor. After roofing is completed, a self-adhesive EPDM gasket strip is applied around the top of the flashing, which provides added protection from snow, ice and splashing water. The final step is to install the Base Cap Assembly, which counterflashes 2.4 inches over the flashing and creates a seal by compressing the gasket. This watertight structural mounting point is ideal for mechanical equipment screens, equipment platforms and solar panel racking systems.

This watertight structural mounting point is ideal for mechanical equipment screens, equipment platforms and solar panel racking systems.

A watertight structural mounting point is ideal for mechanical equipment screens, equipment platforms and solar panel racking systems.

Many roofing manufacturers require penetration flashings to extend a minimum of 8 inches above the roof surface. RoofScreen has performed successful independent lab testing on its roof attachment system with only a 3-inch flashing height and had no leaks. Ultimately, it’s up to the roofing contractor and the roofing manufacturer to determine the flashing height in relation to the roof. Consult with both, especially if there is a roofing warranty involved.

If a base support needs to be raised to meet a required flashing height, RoofScreen offers 5-, 9- and 12-inch versions of the base support, plus 3- and 4-inch extensions. A taller base support should, in most cases, provide enough clearance for the amount of insulation being used. It should be noted the height of base supports impacts the overall design of the frame. RoofScreen provides fully engineered solutions incorporating all equipment screen variables.

In addition to installing a patented engineered leak-proof roof attachment system, RoofScreen eliminates the need for periodic maintenance. There will never be a need to add temporary caulking. With no need for maintenance, there’s one less reason for anyone being up on the roof to compromise the roofing system. That’s a good thing.