TPO System Delivers Energy Efficiency for Company Headquarters

TurnKey Corrections constructed a new 115,000-square-foot in facility in River Falls, Wis.

TurnKey Corrections constructed a new 115,000-square-foot in facility in River Falls, Wis.

If you want it done right, do it yourself. Company owners Todd Westby and Tim Westby take a hands-on approach to running TurnKey Corrections, the River Falls, Wisconsin-based company that provides commissary and jail management services to county corrections facilities nationwide. The Westby brothers also take pride in the fact that TurnKey manufactures the kiosks it provides to its clients and develops and owns the proprietary software used to run them.

So, it’s perhaps not surprising that, when building the company’s new headquarters, Todd Westby, the company’s CEO, founder and general manager, served as the general contractor. Or that he had definite ideas regarding the roofing system that would be installed. Or that he was more than willing to get his hands dirty during the installation process.

Founded in 1998, TurnKey Corrections helps corrections facilities streamline and lower the cost of delivering a variety services to inmates, including commissary, email and email-to-text communication, video visitation, law library access, and paperless intra-facility communication and documentation. Following several years of robust growth, the company had outgrown its three existing buildings. So, it constructed a new 115,000-square-foot facility to bring all operations, including 50,000 square feet of office space and a 65,000 square-foot warehouse where commissary items are stored prior to shipment to corrections facilities, under a single roof and accommodate future success.

“We wanted to be involved in the project from beginning to end so we knew what we were getting and how it was built,” Todd Westby says of the decision to keep construction management in-house. “We wanted to know about anything and everything that was being built for the company in this building.”

In planning the project, Westby initially set two key criteria for the roofing system: that the building would be made watertight as quickly as possible so concrete slab pours and other interior work could be completed, and that the roof would be covered by a warranty of at least 20 years. The design-build firm’s initial plans called for a ballasted EPDM roofing system, but Rex Greenwald, president of roofing contractor TEREX Roofing & Sheet Metal LLC of Minneapolis, suggested a white TPO system, noting that it would meet the quick installation and warranty goals while also enhancing the building’s energy efficiency. Westby was intrigued and, after some research, agreed to the recommendation. In addition to helping reduce cooling costs during summer months, the reflective surface would allow a blanket of snow to remain on the roof during winter months to provide additional insulation.

The TPO roofing system was constructed over a 22-gauge metal fabricated roof deck.

The TPO roofing system was constructed over a 22-gauge metal fabricated roof deck.

The Roof System

The TPO roofing system included a 22-gauge metal fabricated roof deck; two 2.5-inch-thick layers of Poly ISO insulation from Mule-Hide Products Co., with tapered insulation saddles and crickets to aid drainage; and 811 squares of 60-mil white TPO membrane from Mule-Hide Products Co. The insulation and membrane were mechanically attached using the RhinoBond System from OMG Roofing Products. Cast iron roof drains, designed and installed by a plumber, were used rather than scuppers and downspouts—a practice that the TEREX team strongly recommends to prevent freezing during the cold Upper Midwest winters. Walkways lead to the mechanical units, protecting the membrane from damage when maintenance personnel need to access the equipment.

The TEREX team finds the RhinoBond System to be the most efficient and economical attachment method for TPO systems. Specially coated metal plates are used to fasten the insulation to the roof deck and then an electromagnetic welder is used to attach the membrane to the plates. The membrane is not penetrated, eliminating a potential entry point for moisture. And while other mechanical attachment methods require the crew to seam as they go, the RhinoBond System allows them to lay the entire membrane (a task which must be completed in good weather conditions) at once and go back later to induction weld the seams and plates, which can be done when Mother Nature is slightly less cooperative.

Greenwald estimates that the switch from the originally specified ballasted EPDM system to the TPO roofing system and RhinoBond System shaved at least 10 percent off the installation time and reduced the roof weight by 10 pounds per square foot.

Having Westby on-site as the general contractor also sped up the project considerably, Greenwald notes. “He was a huge asset to all of the subcontractors,” he explains. “We could get construction questions answered quickly and could talk through issues and procedures on a timely basis.”

And the most memorable moment in the project for Greenwald was seeing Westby working side-by-side with his crew. “One day we had a delivery truck show up, and Todd jumped on the forklift and helped us unload the truck.”

As sought from the project’s outset, the roofing system is backed by a 20-year, no-dollar-limit labor and material warranty.

With one winter of use in the rearview mirror, the roofing system has exceeded Westby’s expectations. Warehouse space was doubled, but heating costs have been cut in half. The 10-unit heating system also is able to keep the warehouse a uniform temperature, without the cold spots that were common in the old building.

“It really is a beautiful, very efficient and organized-looking roof,” Greenwald says.

Green Roof Provides Learning Opportunities at the University of Iowa’s Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building

Established just 59 days after Iowa became a state in 1847, the University of Iowa, Iowa City, boasts a number of firsts. In 1855, it became the first U.S. public university to admit men and women; at that time, its enrollment consisted of 124 students—41 of which were women. In 1873, it was the first school to grant a law degree to a woman. In 1895, it became the first university to place an African American on a varsity sports team.

As such, the university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. PHOTO: Roof Top Sedums LLC

The university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. PHOTO: Roof Top Sedums LLC


In more recent years, the university has strived to lead via its environmental efforts. As a Green Power Partner of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the university pledges to reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation through the use of renewables. In 2010, it established its first sustainability plan—2020 Vision UIowa Sustainability Targets, which contains the following goals:

  • Become a Net-negative Energy Consumer
  • Green Our Energy Portfolio
  • Decrease Our Production of Waste
  • Reduce the Carbon Impact of Transportation
  • Increase Student Opportunities to Learn and Practice Principles of Sustainability
  • Support and Grow Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainability-focused and Related Areas
  • Develop Partnerships and Advance Collaborative Initiatives, both Academic and Operational

Among the University of Iowa’s strategies to achieve its sustainability goals is ensuring all new construction and major renovations on campus achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington.

The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes.

The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes. PHOTO: Scott Nagel


As such, the university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes, including glow-emitting sealants, paints, carpet and other materials; water-efficient landscaping; and recycled content and regional materials. It also achieves an-other university first: three green roofs, one of which provides students the opportunity to grow medicinal plants.

Opting for Trays

Des Moines, Iowa-based landscape architecture firm Confluence has been completing projects at the University of Iowa for many years through its Iowa offices—Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Confluence was hired by the project’s architect of record, Rohrbach Associates PC Architects, Iowa City, to complete landscaping around and on top of the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building in the form of three green roofs that total approximately 6,440 square feet. Despite the building’s consider-able roof area, the design team opted to install the green roofs on lower roof areas upon which building occupants would be looking. The rest of the roof cover is a reflective membrane system.

Confluence provided the layout for a modular green roof on the three distinctive roof areas. Patrick Alvord, PLA, RA, LEED AP, a principal in Confluence’s Cedar Rapids office, notes the chosen tray system was off-the-rack, which is what made it appealing to him and his colleagues. “We spent a lot of time talking to the manufacturer and they were just great to work with,” Alvord says. “We had a number of case studies of work they had done in the Chicagoland area that had proven very successful, so we had a very high level of comfort right out of the gate.”

Alvord opted to use the 6-inch-deep tray model because it would provide some flexibility in the plant materials that could be specified. “We were able to specify different plant materials in the plan of the roof to coordinate with shade, densities and location,” he says. “In areas where the roof would be highly visible from floors above, we did some patterning with the plants. In areas where we had the opportunity to go deep, we planted deeper-rooting plants that will grow taller and provide a denser plant palette.”

The plants are a mix of native and adaptive Iowa plants, as well as recommendations from the green-roof supplier. “It’s a mix of perennials, grasses and forbs, ranging from sedums to liatris to a number of different things,” Alvord notes.

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