At the Boulder JCC, Rooftop Solar Fulfills Several Key Priorities

The Solar Revolution installed a photovoltaic array located on multiple rooftops on the campus of the Boulder Jewish Community Center. Photos: S-5!

The 52,444-square-foot Boulder Jewish Community Center (Boulder JCC) was conceived as a contemporary interpretation of sustainable design. The campus was designed and built by Colorado-based RB+B Architects and Calcon Constructors, who desired to create something beautiful, functional and unique. Construction included a wing for daycare and education, a gymnasium and fitness center, a full commercial kitchen, a community hall with a state-of-the-art stage, a library, administrative offices and a large outdoor gathering area, complete with a fireplace.

The Boulder JCC is a 501c3, nonprofit organization. Sustainability, energy efficiency and education are priorities for its members. The goal was to incorporate rooftop solar during the initial construction, but the budget wouldn’t allow it. After the complex was built, the challenge was to find a cost-effective photovoltaic (PV) solution that presented a solid return on investment, which would make the project a no-brainer from a financial standpoint.

Installing solar panels on the standing seam metal roof provided excellent visibility for the solar system, increasing its viability as an educational tool.

The Solar Revolution, a PV system designer and installer located in Boulder, was there to help. Doug Claxton, principal and founder of The Solar Revolution, advised the Boulder JCC that grants from the City of Boulder and Boulder County were available for helping nonprofits go solar. The high visibility of the PV system and the educational opportunities afforded by solar power were important to both the Boulder JCC and the grant committees, and the project was approved.

The Boulder JCC now has a 74.4kW PV array located on multiple rooftops, including the highly visible and gently curved standing seam metal roof and a low-slope TPO roof. In addition to solar on the main facility, a 7.2kW array is installed on the adjacent barn at the “Milk and Honey Farm.” The farm is 100 percent powered by solar and serves as a valuable tool for the Boulder JCC’s educational and preschool programs.

Adding Solar Power

Work on the project was done in phases, beginning with the Firestone UC-3 double lock standing seam metal roof over the gymnasium. “We did the solar on the metal roof first because that’s the most cost-effective place to do it, using S-5!’s clamps and PVKIT,” notes Claxton. “So, we did that, and then a year later, another round of grant money was available, so we were able to do even more solar up there on the flat roof.”

Installing solar panels on the roof would provide excellent visibility and have a lower initial cost than the low-slope roof sections. “That’s one reason we actually won the job, along with the grants,” Claxton recalls. “We quoted it and when they saw the number, they said, ‘That’s much less expensive than we had anticipated.’”

Solar modules for metal roof installation were secured with the S-5-PVKIT 2.0, which provides a simple, secure, economical attachment method with no penetrations.

The key to the metal roof installation was the S-5-PVKIT 2.0, which provides a simple, secure, economical method for attaching solar modules with no penetrations. The PVKIT’s pre-assembled components enable installers to directly attach PV modules to the roof’s standing seams using S-5! clamps and brackets, which is faster and more economical than a traditional rail mounting system.

“I think a standing seam metal roof is hands down the best roof for solar just because of the fact that we don’t penetrate, and it installs so quickly,” Claxton says. “What’s unique about the S-5! system with their PVKIT is that we don’t use a traditional support rail underneath the panels. With the S-5! kit, the panels rest right on the kit. You eliminate the rail, so you cut your material costs down quite a bit. You also cut the labor cost quite a bit.”

The safety plan called for traditional fall protection equipment, which was also easy to implement on the metal roof. “There are a couple of companies that make really good fall protection equipment for standing seam metal, so again that’s the beauty of a standing seam roof — there are no penetrations for the solar mounting, and we use fall protection that doesn’t damage the roof,” Claxton notes.

The installation method eliminates concerns about violating the manufacturer’s warranty. “In order to route the power from the roof down, we just did a conduit detail around the eave,” says Claxton. “In this case we didn’t penetrate the roof and the steel deck at all. And we got all those solar panels on in two days with a four-man crew. It’s really pretty darn simple.”

The Second Phase

When solar was added to the flat roof, The Solar Revolution developed a hybrid system using both ballast and mechanical attachment. “We installed the Ecolibrium system, which is a ballasted solution that uses concrete pavers to essentially weigh the system down,” Claxton explains. “In this case, though, with our windspeeds being as high as they are, we introduced about a dozen mechanical attachments interspersed throughout, and that allowed us to get the designed windspeed without making the system too heavy.”

Attachments were made using the U Anchor 2400 from Anchor Products, which is fastened to the deck and features TPO flap that’s bonded to it. “What we do is zip it in and have a roofer come in right after us and weld the TPO down,” Claxton says. “For every attachment we do, it eliminates the need for 420 pounds of concrete block, so it helps us keep our ballast weight in check on these systems. It gives us a lot of peace of mind that the system is not going anywhere. Even though we have to penetrate, it’s such a good flashing detail that I would argue it’s better than any pipe jack out there in terms of its watertightness.”

The solar installations went smoothly, according to Claxton, and The Solar Revolution is preparing another grant application for the third phase of the project.

“The only challenge was working around a facility that has events going practically 24-7,” he says. “We had to make sure we were being safe, especially working in areas above people. There were no real challenges other than coordinating the work in an operational facility.”

According to Claxton, the project illustrates the company’s strengths, which include finding the optimal way to design and install the PV system. “We were the only company to propose utilizing the standing seam metal roof,” he says. “We are very good at analyzing the site and finding the best solution, which isn’t always the most obvious solution. That standing seam is like a barrel vault — it has a gentle curve to it — and a lot of companies don’t think to use that because of the curve, but the S-5! system allows us to contour that curve perfectly.”

The aesthetics of the solar system were an important consideration as well as ROI. “Again, the JCC is doing solar because they also want it to be a learning tool, and the city’s grant wants it to be visible, so by using the metal roof we achieved the goal of visibility,” says Claxton. “They are putting solar all over their campus so they can reduce their energy costs and have more money to put into these early childhood programs. They also help educate kids on renewable energy and sustainability. It’s all part of their mission. As a nonprofit, anything they can do to reduce their energy costs is beneficial.”

TEAM

Architect: RB+B Architects, Fort Collins, Colorado, www.rbbarchitects.com

General Contractor: Calcon Constructors, Englewood, Colorado, www.calconci.com

Roofing Contractor: Douglass Colony, Commerce City, Colorado, www.douglasscolony.com

Solar Installer: The Solar Revolution, Boulder, Colorado, www.thesolarrevolution.com

MATERIALS

Solar Module and Inverter: LG Solar, www.lg.com/us/solar, SolarEdge www.solaredge.com

Metal Roof Attachment: S-5-PVKIT 2.0, S-5!, www.s-5.com

Low-Slope Attachment: Ecolibrium, https://ecolibriumsolar.com, and U2400, Anchor Products LLC, www.anchorp.com

The Calcaire House Meets Strict Energy Codes — and Does it in Style

The residential compound is made up of five interconnected buildings and features both gabled standing seam metal roofs and low-slope TPO roofs. Photos: S-5!

The Calcaire House is a 15,000-square-foot modern Colorado single-family residential compound consisting of five interconnected buildings. Floor-to-ceiling glass connects the interior space to the exterior landscape, offering spectacular views of the Boulder Flatirons. A combination of exposed timber, stone and steel structural design elements, and exposed custom roof trusses complement the gabled standing seam metal roof.

Boulder Roofing Company and The Solar Revolution were charged with installing a metal roof and solar array with more than 60 kilowatts of solar dispersed over multiple rooftops. Boulder Roofing installed both standing seam metal and TPO roof systems on the project. Crews installed approximately 12,000 square feet of 14-inch, 24-gauge panels from Drexel Metals in traditional black over Titanium PSU30 high-temp peel and stick underlayment.

They also installed 3,000 square feet of 60-mil Versico TPO over low-slope areas. The TPO was adhered to quarter-inch DensDeck Prime over tapered EPS insulation. Boulder Roofing fabricated and installed custom flashings and coping, and also installed an S-5! snow-guard system incorporating the S-5! ColorGard bars, S-5-S Mini clamps, SnoClip IIs, and VersaClips.

The Energy Challenge

The city of Boulder has strict energy codes in place and requires all new construction to meet a certain level of efficiency. The requirements are based on the square footage of the home and are more stringent on larger homes — the larger the home, the more efficient it needs to be. The goal is to have a net-zero home, not taking energy from the grid, and the only way for a larger home to achieve this is with solar. A modest home or small addition might only require about 2 kilowatts. A large home might require 20-30 kilowatts.

The most optimal rooftops for solar were also the most visually prominent, and the homeowner was concerned about aesthetics. These concerns were alleviated after seeing a small-scale mock-up of the S-5! PVKIT 2.0 solution combined with an all-black solar module.

In addition, the area is considered a high-wind area and would require a study to account for windspeeds, as the solar installers could only rely on the roof itself and its attachment to the wood sheeting when attaching solar panels using S-5!’s zero-penetration system.

Another difficulty was finding a viable path to route the energy created by the solar panels back to the point of connection with the home’s distribution. The Solar Revolution worked with the builder and the architect, and analyzed photos and design plans to find ways to conceal the conduits. They ultimately found a viable path that was aesthetically pleasing, code compliant and cost-effective.

The Solution

The Solar Revolution installers utilized S-5!’s PVKIT 2.0 to build the solar array. The installation team started at ground level prepping S-5! PVKIT MidGrabs and EdgeGrabs. Another team member prepared the solar modules by installing the power optimizers and managing the various wires. By completing this work on the ground, the roof crew could focus on setting modules, and it minimized their time in harnesses on a steep metal roof. The solar installers prefer to install modules starting with the bottom row and working up. Extra care is taken when aligning the first row. This precision allows for subsequent rows to drop into place on the S-5! PVKIT MidGrabs.

The Solar Revolution installed a solar array that provides more than 60 kilowatts of power.

“The Solar Revolution has been utilizing the S-5! PVKIT 2.0 solution since it first hit the market,” says Doug Claxton, CEO of The Solar Revolution. “Hands down, it is the best solar mounting solution for metal roofing of any description. At first, we were a little worried about wire management and installing in landscape, but those worries were overcome with our first installation. It’s a piece of cake.”

Long-Term Outlook

With the S-5! PVKIT 2.0, the Calcaire House was able to meet the city code requirements for solar and establish itself as an energy-efficient, net-zero home. Because the PVKIT comes in black, it matched the roof nicely, pulling together all of the design elements in an aesthetically pleasing, cost-effective manner — saving the customer time and money on installation and materials.

TEAM

Architect: Surround Architecture, Boulder, Colorado, www.surroundarchitecture.com

General Contractor: Harrington Stanko Construction, Niwot, Colorado, www.harringtonstanko.com

Engineer: Anthem Structural Engineers, Boulder, Colorado, www.anthemstructural.com

Roofing Contractor: Boulder Roofing Company, Boulder, Colorado, www.boulderroof.com

Solar Installer: The Solar Revolution, Boulder, Colorado, www.thesolarrevolution.com

MATERIALS

Metal Roof: 175SS 14-inch, 24 gauge panels, Drexel Metals, www.drexmet.com

Underlayment: Titanium PSU30, Owens Corning, www.owenscorning.com

TPO Roof: 60-mil Grey TPO, Versico, www.versico.com

Cover Board: DensDeck Prime, Georgia-Pacific, www.buildgp.com

Solar Attachment: S-5! PVKIT 2.0 in black with S-5-S Mini Clamps, www.S-5.com

Snow Guards: S-5! ColorGard, S-5-S Mini Clamps, SnowClipIIs and VersaClips

Boulder Lumber Warehouse Needed a Roof Built to Last in Tough Conditions

Boulder Lumber’s 19,512-square-foot warehouse needed a roof that could withstand high winds and extreme weather. Photos: Versico

Since 1927, Boulder Lumber has served the building contractors of Boulder, Colorado, providing lumber, millwork, doors, windows, decking, and other building materials. In 2019, Boulder Lumber’s built-up tar and gravel roof needed to be replaced, largely because of damage caused by wind events. The wood nailer at the perimeter had become dislodged and the built-up system had begun to peel back from the concrete deck.

The city of Boulder is located in the Boulder Valley where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. Wind uplift is a major concern for buildings in this area, as high winds come off the canyons from the Rocky Mountains. The wind intensifies as it travels over buildings, which creates high pressure at roof perimeters. Winter conditions in Boulder range from mild to bitterly cold, with an average of 88 inches of snow per season.

The unpredictable weather in northern Colorado shortens their roofing season compared to other areas in the country. Winters can be very cold, and the Boulder area receives an average of 88 inches of snowfall per season.

Key Priorities

When selecting a new roof for the 19,512-square-foot warehouse, Boulder Lumber was looking for something with excellent wind uplift resistance to avoid the problems they’d experienced in the past. They also wanted a system that could be installed quickly in a variety of temperatures, since the weather in Boulder can be very unpredictable and the labor market is tight. Lastly, they wanted to work with a skilled, dependable roofer who would get the job right the first time around.

Boulder Lumber enlisted Black Roofing to install a tough, durable roofing system that would be able to withstand the high wind uplift pressures at the perimeter of the roof. Black Roofing suggested Versico’s RapidLock Roofing System due to the ability of this roofing system to perform well in this environment.

The RapidLock Roofing System uses Velcro Brand Securable Solutions’ hook and loop attachment method to provide a fully adhered system without adhesives. The backing on the VersiFleece membrane attaches to a specialized facer on the insulation boards.

RapidLock roofs are designed to be quick and easy to install and there are no installation temperature restrictions, making this system an ideal fit for the Boulder Lumber project. According to the manufacturer, RapidLock installations provide up to 80 percent labor savings compared to traditional bonding adhesive and up to 25 percent labor savings compared to a traditional VersiFleece system.

The Installation

The 20-year-old existing built-up roof system had to be torn off to the structural concrete deck, including scraping residual asphalt.

Because of the damage to the concrete deck, the existing wood nailer was deteriorating. Black Roofing decided to use Metal-Era’s Eliminailer to provide a strong connection on the perimeter and protect the roof against high winds.

Black Roofing used CAV-GRIP 3V to prime the deck. The product promotes adhesion and can be used in temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit when used as a primer.

Flexible DASH Adhesive was used to adhere a layer of 1-inch SecurShield Polyiso insulation to the concrete deck. Alan Nedelea with Black Roofing says, “We used Flexible DASH to eliminate any of the fasteners that would have been needed to penetrate into the concrete deck, and also to provide a good adhesion for the wind uplift required for this system.”

A layer of 6-inch SecurShield HD RL was then adhered to the base layer. The product has a specialized facer that allows for membrane attachment without using adhesives.

VersiFleece RL EPDM was attached to the SecurShield HD RL. Black Roofing simply positioned the RapidLock EPDM sheets, removed the release liners, then broomed and rolled the membrane into place. Once the job was complete, a 15-year, 55-mph wind speed warranty was issued.

Nedelea cited the roof system’s wind uplift resistance and the lack of temperature restrictions for installation as the key reasons it was chosen for this project. He also pointed to RapidLock’s labor-saving benefits, which allow the roofing system to be installed in far less time than a traditional roofing system.

“This is the first RapidLock roofing system that Black Roofing has installed,” Nedelea says. “We really enjoyed doing this project.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Black Roofing Inc., Boulder, Colorado, www.blackroofing.com

MATERIALS

Membrane: 115-mil VersiFleece RL EPDM RapidLock, Versico, www.versico.com

Insulation: SecurShield HD RL Polyiso RapidLock Insulation and SecurShield Polyiso, Versico

Metal Nailer: Eliminailer, Metal-Era, www.metalera.com