John Ball Zoo’s Green Legacy Extends to Rooftops

The green roof on the meerkat habitat features native plants including Pennsylvania Sedge, Prairie Dropseed, and Lance-leaved Tickweed. Photos: LiveRoof

Since 1884, John Ball Zoo’s 40-acre stretch of land has continued to flourish in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the turn of the 20th century, the zoo population consisted of local favorites such as raccoons and deer. By 1927, Charles Lindbergh deemed the park a popular enough site to address crowds of onlookers after his trans-Atlantic flight. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the zoo expanded exponentially, adding a number of new exhibits including Monkey Island, an aviary, and an aquarium. In 1983, John Ball Zoo was the first zoo in Michigan to receive accreditation from American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Moving through the 21st century, the zoo continues to thrive with its innovative tiger exhibit, and a growing list of additions such as its most recent meerkat habitat.

John Ball Zoo has been a proponent of sustainability in all facets of its design — from the conservation of animals to creation of green spaces that make up the foundations to many of its exhibits. Living walls and living roofs are already a part of that architectural landscape, thanks to local experts such as LiveRoof, LLC. For more than a decade, John Ball Zoo and LiveRoof have turned many of its habitat roofs into viable and beautiful green spaces.

Living walls and living roofs are a big part of the zoo’s architectural landscape, including this green roof atop the bobcat exhibit.

In keeping with this partnership, a new milestone was recently reached. John Ball Zoo has built a first in the nation meerkat habitat that is SITES-centered. A new green certification that considers all aspects of a building’s sustainability, SITES is a set of comprehensive, voluntary guidelines together with a rating system that assesses the sustainable design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes. Unlike other green certifications, SITES is a voluntary assessment that is used from the earliest drafting phases, to the outlook of upkeep and maintenance for the foreseeable future. The zoo’s goal is to be certified with SITES Gold Certification, which would make John Ball Zoo the first zoo in the country to receive this rating and the first SITES v2.0 project in Michigan.

The meerkat habitat building is topped with the LiveRoof Deep system pre-grown with native plants in locally sourced growing medium. “While John Ball Zoo’s other green roofs are populated with sedum and allium selections, this one is different because it contains native grasses and herbaceous perennials,” says Allmon Forrester, the zoo’s horticultural director. According to Forrester, the existing relationship with LiveRoof was most important in selecting a green roof system because of the work their team has done with the zoo on multiple buildings and habitat enclosures. Forrester’s team worked closely with LiveRoof and J&L Roofing, the contractor that installed the green roof system, to secure the necessary documentation on the sustainability of the system, its growing and production methods, and plants.

The roof system beneath the living roof consisted of two layers of 3-inch polyiso insulation, DensDeck Prime cover board set in foam adhesive, adhered 60-mil EPDM membrane and a 60-mil EPDM slip sheet.

In 2008, John Ball Zoo’s first LiveRoof was installed atop the building in the lion habitat. Since then, additional green roof systems from LiveRoof have been planted atop buildings in habitats for monkeys, chimpanzees, bobcats, bears, and meerkats. Not only have the roofs been sustainable and met requirements for a number of green certifications, but they also have proved an aesthetic asset to the make-up of the zoo.


Architect/Builder: Wolverine Building Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan,

Roofing Contractor: J&L Roofing, Grand Rapids, Michigan,

Green Roof Designer/Supplier: LiveRoof, LLC, Nunica, Michigan,


Green Roof: LiveRoof Deep System, LiveRoof,

New Synthetic Cedar Roof Now Tops Arboretum

When the cedar shake roof on the Cox Arboretum had to be replaced, the decision was made to install synthetic cedar shakes manufactured by Brava Roof Tile. Photos: Brava Roof Tile

Anyone from Dayton, Ohio, will tell you that the 174-acre Cox Arboretum is one of the premier places to visit in the city, thanks to the daily free admission and neighboring Gardens MetroPark, which offers more beautiful gardens and green space for visitors to enjoy. For more than 50 years, the Arboretum has wowed residents and tourists alike. With its numerous trees, shrubs, specialty gardens, mature forests, and even prairies, it isn’t difficult to understand why.

Just the building itself can grab a visitor’s attention, with its beautifully curved design and cedar shake roof. These two features have become synonymous with the arboretum and the roof, in particular, is something the board at the arboretum hoped to preserve. Therefore, naturally, when it came time to replace the aging cedar shakes everyone loved so dearly, the board members wanted to do it right. They decided to go to Dayton-based architect Greg L. Lauterbach and contractor E. Lee Construction, a company that has been in business since 1955.

Choosing Synthetic

The board was soon faced with another decision: should they keep the real cedar shakes, which can be costly and difficult to maintain, or should they go a more modern route? While they wanted to preserve the roof’s look, they also wanted to ensure it was durable and long-lasting, and, for that reason, they decided to switch to synthetic shakes.

Sierra Brava Shakes on three different buildings on the Cox Arboretum’s property.
Brava’s standard cavity-back roofing shingles were used in the field of the roof, while “solids” were installed on the large turret.

They chose to go with synthetic cedar roofing for many different reasons. For one, while appearances are naturally important for Cox Arboretum, more important was the roof’s ability to handle the various types of weather conditions seen in Western Ohio. This area sees everything from seasonal rains, hailstorms, and high winds to heavy snow loads and extreme temperature fluctuations. As a result, it was critical to choose a roofing material that wouldn’t easily break or damage under such conditions. A synthetic cedar roof was chosen for its durability. The next step was making sure it captured the look of authentic cedar shake.

Lauterbach wasted no time in collecting samples of synthetic cedar shakes from various manufacturers for review. In the end, he chose to go with Brava Roof Tile for “the aesthetics of the tile and long lifespan.” Unlike some other brands, Brava Shakes truly mimic real cedar, offering lengths of 5 inches, 7 inches, and 12 inches, and varied thickness to recreate that classic split texture of natural wood.

The building is known for its curved design and distinctive turret

These aren’t the only reasons Brava was chosen, however. When it comes to durable roofing products with a long lifespan, Brava Roof Tile is among the industry’s toughest. Their synthetic shingles offer up to a Class A fire rating, a Class 4 impact rating, and can withstand wind speeds over 110 mph. Moreover, an installed Brava roof weighs a mere 350 pounds per roofing square, much less than some competitors and less than real cedar roofing shakes.

Brava Shake comes in a wide range of colors meant to mimic real wood. Lauterbach took his time before deciding on the Sierra Shake, a lighter wood-toned option with some darker highlights. He went with the Sierra Shake because it “best mimics the look of real wood shingles while having the benefits of composite.”

Ensuring an Authentic Look

As an arboretum, a place dedicated to trees and nature, having a natural-looking roof was critical. So, one of the board’s primary concerns was ensuring the most authentic appearance possible. Another major concern was how the Brava shingles would look on the property’s large turret. The decision was made was to purchase “solids” rather than Brava’s standard cavity-back roofing shingles for the turret.

Unlike traditional cedar roofs, a Brava roof is easy to install, with no breakage and no special tools required. While it is easier to install than other roofing options, neither E. Lee Construction nor Lauterbach had previously worked with Brava. The company representatives took a day to train them before they went to work on the Cox Arboretum project, ensuring crews knew what to do each step of the way. With that training, E. Lee Construction headed the project and completed it seamlessly. In the end, they installed the Sierra Brava Shakes on three different buildings on the Cox Arboretum’s property.

Cox Arboretum has a beautiful, realistic synthetic cedar roof thanks to Brava Roof Tile. Visitors continue to admire the exterior, and many are not aware that it isn’t a real cedar roof. Now, the Arboretum no longer has to worry about extensive roof repairs or maintenance, or even about what will happen to the roof in certain types of weather.

After this project, E. Lee Construction has gone on to use Brava Roof Tile on other projects throughout Ohio, proving it is a realistic, durable choice that will stand the test of time.


Architect: Greg L. Lauterbach Architect, LLC, Dayton, Ohio,

Roofing Contractor: E. Lee Construction, Delphos, Ohio,


Synthetic Shake: Brava Cedar Shake in Sierra, Brava Roof Tile,

Community Center Sparkles With New Metal Roof

The community center was re-roofed using a structural sub-framing system from Roof Hugger that allowed the existing metal roofing to remain in place while the new roof system was installed above it. Photos: Roof Hugger, LLC

Just down the road from Pigeon Forge, Gallatin, Dollywood and other popular attractions in the Smokie Mountains is the thriving community of Sevierville, Tennessee. This beautiful mountain town has a community center and a civic center that hosts multiple events throughout the year. The community center is housed in a 1985 vintage metal building manufactured by American Buildings. Due to its age, the building recently underwent a complete re-roofing with metal in a process commonly known as a metal-over-metal retrofit. The building was originally constructed using American’s trapezoidal standing seam profile, so the decision was made to utilize a structural sub-framing system furnished by Roof Hugger, LLC. This type of retrofit allows the existing metal roofing to remain in place. The structural sub-framing is installed over the existing roof and then a new metal roof system is installed, which becomes the finished weathering surface.

The local community leaders were not new to this type of re-roofing for aged metal roofs because of their experience with a 2017 project at Lanier Elementary School in nearby Maryville. This project was designed by Chuck Howard of Metal Roof Consultants (MRC) from Cary, North Carolina, the same company selected for the community center re-roof. MRC has years of experience with retrofit roofing of existing metal roofs, as well flat roofs that receive an engineered light-gauge steel framing system to create a sloped roof plane. On the community center project, MRC consulted with Doyle E. Jones of Sevierville, the architect and roof consultant on the Lanier Elementary project.

Morristown Roofing was awarded the community center project through a public bid process in early 2019. Founded in 1962 by the late Paul Horner, Morristown Roofing now has a footprint of quality roofs in six states throughout the Southeast. With an overall staff of about 55 employees, the company installs all types of roofing from single-ply membranes to metal. The company’s motto: “No project is too large, nor too small for Morristown Roofing.”

According to Ashley Horner of Morristown Roofing, this project was only the company’s second Roof Hugger installation. The job went smoothly, even with the building’s roof geometry having had sloped rakes, varying slopes, multiple valleys and other difficult transitions. Horner went on to say the Roof Hugger product has the ability to increase snow loading and has little to no impact on the occupants of the building. It also helps control the contractor’s liability by eliminating the need to remove the existing metal roof. In addition, with existing trapezoidal metal roofs that are notorious for varying center-to-center major rib spacing, the Roof Hugger sub-purlin design compensates for this issue. Factory oversize notching of the Z-shaped sub-purlin’s vertical web permits easy installation directly over the existing roof panel high ribs, allowing for base flange attachment into the existing purlins. The result is a structurally correct, low-profile, finished retrofit framing assembly ready to receive the new metal roof panels.

The project finished out with 54,000 square feet of 24-gauge  System 2500 metal roofing by MRS Metal Roofing Systems, Inc. Approximately 12,720 linear feet of Roof Hugger’s standard Model “D” sub-purlin with a 4.5-inch web height was installed. The new roof included a ColorGard snow retention system manufactured by S-5!


Consultant: Metal Roof Consultants (MRC), Cary, North Carolina,

Roofing Contractor: Morristown Roofing, Whitesburg, Tennessee,


Structural Sub-Framing: Roof Hugger, LLC,

Metal Roof: System 2500, MRS Metal Roofing Systems Inc.,

Snow Retention: ColorGard, S-5!,

Metal Retrofit Project Protects Air Force Base

On this 7,800-square-foot building at Hurlburt Field, a new metal roof was installed over the existing roof using Roof Hugger sub-purlins. Photos: Roof Hugger

Over the past 15 years, Royster Contracting, LLC of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, has completed several metal-over-metal retrofit projects. Skip Royster, the company’s owner, started his general contracting firm in 1977, and it has a strong reputation for quality construction, with a focus on metal buildings, metal roofing and walls, and retrofit roof systems.

Royster’s newest retrofit roofing project was for the U.S. Air Force on a 7,800-square-foot building located at Hurlburt Field in Okaloosa County, Florida. This Air Force base is very familiar with retrofit roofing projects, with some stretching back more than 25 years. The existing building needed a new metal roof, but in lieu of removing the existing roof and replacing it, the Base Facility Construction department elected a metal-over-metal retrofit. In this case, a new metal roof was installed over new structural sub-framing from Roof Hugger that attaches directly to the existing roof’s support system, without removing the existing metal roof.

Officials at the base knew that it was possible to engineer the new retrofit system to meet current wind uplift design criteria for the area. In this case, the system was designed to meet a Category V hurricane with wind speeds of 157 mph. With the recent catastrophic Hurricane Michael damage at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base and elsewhere on the Florida Panhandle, this project just 82 miles away suffered no damage, even with Michael’s documented peak wind speed of 155 mph.

Roof Hugger provided 2,700 linear feet of the standard Model C sub-purlins, manufactured to fit over 12-inch on center PBR rib panel roofs. Central States Manufacturing of Lowell, Arkansas, furnished their 24-inch-wide Central Seam Plus trapezoidal standing seam roof in 24-gauge Brite white. The general contractor for the project was CCI Mechanical, LLC of Shalimar, Florida.

In addition to hardening the building with the increase in wind uplift resistance, the Base chose to include 3 inches of fiberglass insulation between the existing roof and bottom of the new metal roof. Hardening of building roofs is very common on metal-over-metal retrofit roofs in the coastal states. Many older buildings that were engineered for a 90 to 100 mph windspeeds must be upgraded to minimum code requirements that are currently at 120 mph inland and 130 mph for coastal areas; some parts of Florida and Texas have requirements of 155 mph or greater. U.S. Government facilities typically specify criteria that exceed locally adopted codes.


General Contractor: CCI Mechanical, LLC, Shalimar, Florida,

Roofing Contractor: Royster Contracting, LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Florida,


Metal Roof System: Central Seam Plus Trapezoidal Standing Seam Roof, Central States Manufacturing,

Sub-Purlins: Roof Hugger,

BLUEFIN Acquires Professional Roof Services, Inc.

BLUEFIN, LLC announced it acquired Professional Roof Services, Inc. (PRSI), a Delaware-based roof consulting company. BLUEFIN, the first roof consulting company to provide mobile assessment, and online analytics and data management to customers, further strengthens its ability to provide quality consulting services to Mid-Atlantic clients. The move reinforces BLUEFIN’s position as the largest, leading consulting group in the industry.

“We’re pleased to welcome PRSI’s exceptional team of experienced roof consultants with an outstanding technical ability to BLUEFIN, and for the opportunity to serve PRSI’s customers and communities,” said Richard Rast, president of BLUEFIN. “We’re committed to PRSI’s growth through expanded service offerings, and we are expecting powerful synergy between our teams to greatly benefit clients.”

Blaine Chipola, PRSI president, founded the company in 1993. Dedicating his career to the highest integrity in roof consulting, Chipola carefully searched to combine PRSI with a company that will continue PRSI’s history of technical excellence and objectivity, while adding resources and capabilities to provide growth opportunities for PRSI’s people and expanded service offerings for customers.

PRSI serves dozens of Mid-Atlantic clients in healthcare, government, education, pharmaceuticals and commercial property management. BLUEFIN’s extensive experience with similar clients across North America and its Maryland office makes this a pertinent transaction.

“This is a great fit for PRSI as we looked for a company that values our employees and customers and provides strong support,” said Chipola. “BLUEFIN’s large support group allows our team to expand our presence and service offerings in roofing, pavement, and building envelope and continue delivering quality projects to new and existing clients.”

This marks BLUEFIN’s second acquisition since it closed on CyberCon Consulting last year. The purchase follows BLUEFIN’s office expansion in Dallas-Fort Worth and growing presence in the Pacific Northwest.

For more information, visit

Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt Welcomes Four Contractors to Platinum Advisory Board

Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt, LLC is welcoming four roofing contractors to its Platinum Advisory Board. The prestigious honor is awarded to Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Preferred Contractors who have demonstrated a commitment to sustained excellence in all aspects of their business.

The newly announced Platinum Advisory Board members are: Levi Phillips, Idaho Roofing Contractors, Inc. (Boise, Idaho); Lenny Scarola, DreamHome Remodeling (Springfield, Va.); Wayne Holloway, Best Choice Roofing & Home Improvement (Hendersonville, Tenn.); and John Phillips, ARAC Roof It Forward (Kennesaw, Ga.). These new members join 13 existing members on the Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board.

Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board members provide in-the-field experience and business insights while collaborating with Owens Corning twice a year to offer perspective from the vantage point of leading contractors. Members of the Platinum Advisory Board also work with Owens Corning to evaluate products and provide suggestions for continuous improvement.

“We are excited to continue to grow our Platinum Advisory Board with roofing contractors who have demonstrated high levels of market leadership and customer service,” said Jason Lewinski, Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network Leader. “Our Platinum Advisory Board members play an important role in keeping us connected to emerging issues and opportunities that impact both contractors and the homeowners they serve.”

For more information, visit

Emerging Trends in New LLC Acts

Although the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is still a relatively new form of unincorporated business structure, LLCs are now outpacing newly formed corporate filings in most states and are quickly becoming the predominate form of new business entities across the country. The appeal of the LLC is obvious; it combines the corporate- style limited-liability benefits to its owners with the pass-through taxation benefits of partnerships. With these benefits, it is no surprise that contractors across the country are now choosing LLCs in lieu of corporations or partnerships when selecting their business structure.

Every state has now adopted an LLC act, but these acts vary significantly from state to state. Despite the growing popularity of the LLC structure, many states are still operating under old acts implemented more than 20 years ago, and many of these acts have not been significantly revised. Instead, they have been amended on an as-needed basis in an attempt to keep up with emerging LLC developments and case law. This has created piecemeal and disorganized acts governing LLCs.

To solve these problems, states across the country have been extensively revising their LLC acts or implementing completely new acts. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have formally enacted new LLC acts based on the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (RULLCA). These states include Alabama, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. In addition, South Carolina has been considering adopting the RULLCA. Other states, like North Carolina, which hasn’t officially adopted the RULLCA, have enacted new LLC acts and looked to states that had already adopted the RULLCA for guidance.

These new LLC acts are reshaping the LLC landscape. Contractors of existing LLCs and those wanting to form LLCs should be aware of the potential impact changes to their state’s LLC act can have on their company. Contractors need to be aware that the LLC act they initially filed under—and have been operating under—may now be significantly different or may no longer even be applicable. Failing to review newly revised or implemented acts may lead to unintended or adverse consequences, especially in states that are already operating under a new LLC act.

While a state-by-state analysis of new LLC acts is beyond the scope of this article, there are several trends emerging from states that have already enacted new LLC acts. These trends may soon be universally applicable and it is beneficial for the contractor operating or considering an LLC to be aware of them.

The Operating Agreement

Arguably, one of the most significant and widespread trends emerging from the new LLC acts is that many of the acts are eliminating the requirement that the operating agreement be in writing. Under many of the old LLC acts, an operating agreement was commonly defined as a written agreement between its members. Under many of the new acts, however, an operating agreement can now be a written, oral or implied agreement between its members. This is a broader definition of what qualifies as an operating agreement and essentially allows any type of agreement between members to become part of the operating agreement governing the LLC.

Although this change provides greater flexibility within the business because companies no longer need to adhere to a strict operating-agreement structure requirement, it also opens the door for increased internal litigation. Under these new LLC acts, internal disputes among members are likely to increase when operating-agreement terms are ambiguous or when members claim there was an oral or implied operating agreement.

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