The Roofing Industry Seeks to Protect Buildings from Storms

I used to love storms. I was never one to cower at the sound of thunder. I often found storms a good excuse to turn off the TV and lights, open the blinds and marvel at the sheer power of nature. If you read my January/February “Raise the Roof”, however, you know I have had a love-hate relationship with rain since moving in with my husband (we married in August 2015). I found myself awake on rainy nights, counting the seconds between pumps of our sump
pump. If less than 20 seconds passed, I knew the basement was flooding and dreaded the morning’s cleanup. (I work from home and my office is in the basement.)

In March, a waterproofing company spent two days installing its patented drain- age system and a new sump pump inside our basement. We monitored the system throughout the month of April, which was rainy, to ensure there were no leaks in the system. It worked like a charm! During April, we also hired contractors to create my new home office, a guestroom and walk-in closet within the basement. So far, we have new windows, lighting and insulation; the contractors are finishing up drywall and ceiling installation as I type.

I know what it’s like when you can’t trust your house to weather a storm. There’s nothing worse than feeling powerless, and seeing your belongings destroyed is gut-wrenching. As the nation braces against another summer of intense weather, it’s comforting to know the construction industry—specifically roofing—is researching and innovating to protect people’s homes and businesses from Mother Nature’s wrath.

For example, in “Business Sense”, Jared O. Blum, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, writes about initiatives to improve the resiliency of our building stock and infrastructure through codes, standards and proactive design.

The Clinton, Ohio-based Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues Inc., better known as RICOWI, recently sent 30 researchers to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex after an April hailstorm. According to Joan Cook, RICOWI’s executive director, the 10 teams of three inspected 3 million square feet of low and steep-slope roofing during the investigation. The teams’ findings will result in a report to help the industry better understand what causes roofs to perform or fail in severe hail events, leading to overall improvements in roof system durability. Learn how RICOWI mobilizes and studies roofs in “Special Report”.

There are many other stories within this issue about roof systems working along- side other building components to create durable, sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Humans have a long history of innovating and evolving to meet the needs of their current situation. I have no doubt that in my lifetime our buildings will be built to withstand nearly any catastrophic event. Meanwhile, I’m happy to report we received 4 1/2 inches of rain in three hours last week and our basement remained bone dry. Thanks to innovations in basement waterproofing, I may start to enjoy storms just a bit again!

PIMA, IMT and CEIR Release I-Codes Design Guide

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), and the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing have released the Roof and Wall Thermal Design Guide: Applying the Prescriptive Insulation Standards of the 2015 I-Codes.

The non-proprietary I-Codes Design Guide provides information regarding the prescriptive thermal value tables in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code and the references to these tables in the 2015 International Green Construction Code. The guide translates this information into simple and straightforward roof and wall R-value tables covering the most common forms of commercial opaque roof and wall construction.

“Since 1994, the International Codes have served as models for all state and local building codes in the U.S.,” says Jared Blum, president PIMA. “Codes are key for ensuring we meet today’s rigorous standards. In a guide such as this one, it is easier to interpret and implement the codes as they apply to roof and wall insulation.”

The 2015 edition of the International Codes (I-Codes) includes several advances to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings. First, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) includes new and higher standards for several components in the building envelope, most notably for roofs with insulation above deck. In addition, these enhanced standards are further increased in the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), which is intended to serve as an overall or “above the code” standard for sustainable buildings.

“The building thermal envelope—which may go unchanged for decades—is one of the most critical aspects of achieving long-term energy efficiency in commercial buildings,” says Cliff Majersik, executive director, IMT. “In a time where local building departments have increasingly strained resources, the Roof and Wall Thermal Design Guide is a simple resource that code officials can use to explain the commercial roof and wall requirements of the 2015 IECC. State adoption of the 2015 IECC is increasing quickly, making this guide an essential resource for educating local code officials and industry.”

The guide is intended to provide specific information regarding commercial wall and roof energy requirements of the 2015 I-Codes. In order to make this guide effective, individuals should identify the type of roof for wall assembly they current have, identify their current climate zone, and check the building’s occupancy.

PIMA Names Chairman of the Organization

During its annual meeting, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) announced that Helene Pierce, vice president of Technical Services, Codes and Industry Relations at GAF, assumed the chairmanship of the organization on Jan. 1, 2016. She succeeds Jim Whitton of Hunter Panels, who has served as the PIMA chairman for the last two years.

“Helene has extensive and deep technical understanding of the polyiso insulation industry and has served the association on numerous task groups and initiatives—she is the perfect choice to lead PIMA,” says Jared Blum, PIMA president. “We look forward to her leadership as the building, architecture and specifying communities continues to embrace and reiterate the value of building thermal performance.”

Pierce has spent more than 34 years in the roofing industry and has been very active in many of the industry’s organizations. She received the ASTM Award of Merit and title of Fellow from ASTM Committee D08, the James Q. McCawley award from the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association and the title of Fellow of the Institute from the Roof Consultants Institute.

Among the many groups in which she has been active include ARMA; ASTM International; CSI; the RCI Foundation; CEIR; SPRI; RCMA; PIMA; and the CRRC. Pierce has also authored and presented numerous papers for the roofing industry and is a frequent contributor to industry publications.

“PIMA represents North America’s insulation of choice and its diverse membership provides a truly collaborative environment for all of our members,” says Pierce. “Given the importance of energy efficiency in the building envelope, the demand for continuous high-performance insulation for the roof and walls continues to grow. As the voice for polyiso insulation used in the building envelope and through its many initiatives in education, building codes and standards, technical resources, and QualityMark, PIMA’s support of the polyiso industry will certainly continue to grow.”

Attended by more than 100 members—polyiso manufacturers and suppliers to the industry—PIMA’s two-day annual meeting featured an educational session, which presented perspectives on energy infrastructure issues impacting the industry. During the annual meeting, members heard from:

  • Lisa Jacobson, president, Business Counsel for Sustainable Energy
  • Brad Markell, executive director, AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council
  • Amy L. Duvall, senior director, Federal Affairs, American Chemistry Council
  • Sarah Brozena, senior director Regulatory and Technical Affairs, American Chemistry Council

“Energy efficiency remains a critical issue as illustrated during the recent COP21 meeting, where there was a palpable shift in the attitude of the business community towards energy-efficiency practices and policies,” adds Blum. “Our industry stands ready to support any agreement stemming from the COP21 meeting and our role as a trade association is to ensure our members have access to the resources they need.”

SOPREMA Joins the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association announced that SOPREMA has joined the group as a manufacturing member.

“The addition of SOPREMA to the polyiso industry and the PIMA family reflects the continuing growth of polyiso as North America’s insulation product of choice,” says Jared Blum, president PIMA. “SOPREMA’s construction industry leadership role is well acknowledged, and the PIMA Board of Directors looks forward to the active involvement of the company.”

SOPREMA joins PIMA’s six manufacturing members: Atlas Roofing, Firestone Building Products, GAF, Hunter Panels, Johns Manville and Rmax.

SOPREMA is an international manufacturer specializing in the development and production of innovative products for waterproofing, insulation, soundproofing and vegetated solutions for the roofing, building envelope and civil engineering sectors. Founded in 1908 in Strasbourg, France, SOPREMA now operates in more than 90 countries.

With its first polyisocyanurate insulation plant in North America, SOPREMA will expand its presence in the construction market by offering complete roofing solutions to its clients, while managing all production phases.

“SOPREMA is proud to join PIMA and contribute to the energy performance of buildings and the reduction of greenhouse gases as a manufacturer of high-performance insulation boards,” says Richard Voyer, executive vice president and CEO of SOPREMA North America.

PIMA Report: Effect of Roof Traffic and Moisture on Roof Insulations

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) released a research report suggesting that low-slope roofs using popular single-ply roof coverings may not be suitable for the use of mineral fiber (also known as mineral wool or rock wool) board insulation when subject to roof traffic and/or moisture accumulation.

The PIMA report titled “The Effect of Roof Traffic and Moisture on Roof Insulations,” was developed as a follow-up to previous research studies from Europe that evaluated the performance of mineral fiber subjected to a combination of simulated roof traffic and increased roof moisture content. The study suggests that moisture vapor may significantly reduce the compressive strength of mineral fiber insulation leading to a significant increase in overall roofing failures.

The research report concludes that:

  • After exposure to 95 percent humidity for 48 hours, single-ply roofing assemblies installed over two different types of rigid mineral fiber board insulation lost over 85 percent of their initial compressive strength when tested for only five cycles of a walkability test, recently developed in Europe to evaluate the effects of roof traffic on roofing systems.
  • Based on this observed loss of compressive strength, all of the roofing assemblies tested were rated as “Not Suitable” for roof traffic using a classification protocol developed in conjunction with the walkability test.
  • The reduction in walkability observed in this testing was slightly mitigated by increasing the thickness of the single-ply roof covering, but the benefit appeared to be minimal.

“It is well-known that moisture may collect inside roofing systems either from internal condensation or from external leaks,” says Jared Blum, president of PIMA. “As a consequence, the presence of water vapor inside roofing assemblies may be relatively commonplace. The data from this study, combined with prior work done in Europe, suggest that moisture vapor may significantly reduce the compressive strength of mineral fiber insulation. As a consequence, great care should be taken when using mineral fiber insulation if any significant level of roof traffic and/or internal moisture is anticipated.”

A copy of the research report, “The Effect of Roof Traffic and Moisture on Roof Insulations” is available for download at PIMA’s website and is also available from PIMA members.

White Paper Identifies Appropriate Mean Reference Temperature Ranges and R-values of Polyiso Roof Insulation within this Range

A number of recent articles have explored the relationship between temperature and R-value with an emphasis on the apparent reduction in R-value demonstrated by polyisocyanurate (or polyiso) roof insulation at cold temperatures. The science behind this apparent R-value decrease is relatively simple: All polyiso foam contains a blowing agent, which is a major component of the insulation performance provided by the polyiso foam. As temperatures decrease, all blowing agents will start to condense, and at some point this will result in a marginally reduced R-value. The point at which this occurs will vary to some extent for different polyiso foam products.

a mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F.

A mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F.

Because of this phenomenon, building researchers have attempted to determine whether the nominal R-value of polyiso insulation should be reduced in colder climates. Because of the obvious relationship between temperature and blowing-agent condensation, this certainly is a reasonable area of inquiry. However, before determining nominal R-value for polyiso in colder climates, it is critical to establish the appropriate temperature at which R-value testing should be conducted.

TO DETERMINE the appropriate temperature for R-value testing of polyiso, it is important to review how R-value is tested and measured. Figure 1 provides a simplified illustration of a “hot box” apparatus used to test and measure the R-value of almost all thermal-insulating materials. The insulation sample is placed within the box, and a temperature differential is maintained on opposing sides of the box. To generate accurate R-value information, the temperature differential between the opposing sides of the box must be relatively large—typically no less than 40 F according to current ASTM standards. The results of this type of test are then reported based on the average between these two temperature extremes, which is referred to as mean reference temperature. As shown in Figure 1, a mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F. In a similar manner, a mean reference temperature of 20 F is based on a hot-side temperature of 40 F and a cold-side temperature of 0 F.

NOW THAT we’ve had an opportunity to discuss the details of R-value testing, let’s apply the principles of the laboratory to the real-world situation of an actual building. Just like our laboratory hot box, buildings also have warm and cold sides. In cold climates, the warm side is located on the interior and the cold side is located on the exterior. If we assume that the interior is being heated to 68 F during the winter, what outdoor temperature will be required to obtain a mean reference temperature of 40 F or 20 F? Figure 2 provides a schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

As illustrated in Figure 2, the necessary outdoor temperature needed to attain a 40 F mean reference temperature would be 12 F while an outdoor temperature as low as -28 F would be needed to obtain a 20 F mean reference temperature. And herein lies a glaring problem with many of the articles published so far about the relationship between temperature and R-value. Although a 20 F or 40 F “reference temperature” may sound reasonable for measuring R-value, average real-world conditions required to obtain this reference temperature are only available in the most extreme cold climates in the world. With the exception of the northernmost parts of Canada and the Arctic, few locations experience an average winter temperature lower than 20 F.

schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

A Schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

To help illustrate the reality of average winter temperature in North America, a recent white paper published by the Bethesda, Md.-based Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), “Thermal Resistance and Temperature: A Report for Building Design Professionals”, which is available at Polyiso.org, identifies these average winter temperatures by climate zone using information from NOAA Historical Climatology studies. As shown in Table 1, page 2, the PIMA white paper identifies that actual average winter temperature varies from a low of 22 F in the coldest North American climate zone (ASHRAE Zone 7) to a high of 71 F in the warmest climate zone (ASHRAE Zone 1).

In addition to identifying a realistic winter outdoor average temperature for all major North American climate zones, Table 1 also identifies the appropriate mean reference temperature for each zone when a 68 F indoor design temperature is assumed. Rather than being as low as 40 F or even 20 F as sometimes inferred in previous articles, this mean winter reference temperature varies from a low of no less than 45 F in the coldest climate zone to above 50 F in the middle climate zones in North America.

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PIMA Announces Environmental Product Declarations for Polyiso Roof and Wall Insulations

Consistent with its delivery of energy-efficient and sustainable building insulation solutions, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) announced the receipt of third party-verified ISO-compliant Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for polyisocyanurate (polyiso) roof and wall insulations as manufactured by PIMA members across North America. An EPD is an internationally recognized and standardized tool that reports the environmental impacts of products.

These EPDs document that the energy-savings potential of polyiso roof and wall insulation during a typical 60-year building life span is equal to up to 47 times the initial energy required to produce, transport, install, maintain, and eventually remove and dispose of the insulation. In addition to a high return on embodied energy, the EPDs document that polyiso roof and wall insulation offer high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, recycled content, opportunity for reuse and outstanding fire performance.

Beyond providing consistent and comparable environmental impact data, the PIMA polyiso EPDs also present information about additional environmental and energy characteristics, including the high net return on energy provided by polyiso roof and wall insulation.

Specifically, the polyiso EPDs describe the environmental impacts of the combined weighted average production for PIMA member manufacturing locations located across the United States and Canada, based on an established set of product category rules applicable to all types of building thermal insulation. The environmental impacts reported in the PIMA polyiso EPDs are derived from independently verified cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) process, including all critical elements related to the resourcing, production, transport, installation, maintenance, and eventual removal and replacement of polyiso roof and wall insulation.

Using the LCA process, the PIMA polyiso roof and wall insulation products are evaluated on a number of impact categories including global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, eutrophication potential, acidification potential, and smog creation potential, as well as other environmental indicators including primary energy demand, resource depletion, waste to disposal, waste to energy, and water use.

PIMA polyiso roof and wall insulation EPDs also meet the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED v4 Green Building Rating System under Credit MRC-2 Building Product Disclosure and Optimization: Environmental Product Declarations as industry-wide or generic declarations that may be valued as one-half of an eligible product for the purposes of credit calculation.

“These third party-verified EPDs for polyiso roof and wall insulation products produced by PIMA manufacturers reflect our industry’s commitment to sustainability and transparency in reporting environmental performance,” says Jared Blum, president of PIMA. “These EPDs will be a valuable tool to provide environmental information to all building and design professionals, and they should be especially helpful in meeting emerging criteria for green building design.”

PIMA Approves Four Testing Labs for QualityMark Certification Program

PIMA announced that four accredited testing labs have been approved for use by participating polyiso insulation manufacturers in its QualityMark program, the only third-party program for the certification of the thermal value of polyiso roof insulation.

“The integrity of this third-party certification program, which has been overseen since its inception by Factory Mutual, is maintained by the quality assurance obtained through the use of these well respected labs, which all have International Accreditation Service accreditation,” says Jared O. Blum, president of PIMA. “Exova, R&D Services, QAI Laboratories and Architectural Testing are all members of national and international accreditation bodies.”

The PIMA QualityMark certification program is a voluntary program that allows polyiso manufacturers to obtain independent, third-party certification for the Long Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) values of their polyiso insulation products. Polyiso is the only insulation to be certified by this unique program for its LTTR value. The program was developed by PIMA and is administered by FM Global.

To participate in PIMA’s QualityMark certification program, a Class 1 roof is suggested to have a design R-value of 5.7 per inch. PIMA member manufacturers will publish updated R-values for their polyiso products later this year. Polyiso is unique in that the R-value increases with the thickness of the foam, so three inches of polyiso has a higher R-value per inch than 2 inches.

ARMA, ERA and PIMA Research Advanced Roof Systems in Northern Climates

A coalition of trade groups is funding a research project about advanced roofing systems that were installed on an upstate New York correctional facility to evaluate the benefits of thermal insulation and cool roofing in Northern climates.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), Washington, D.C.; EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), Washington; and the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), Bethesda, Md., are sponsoring continued analysis of a reroofing project at the Onondaga County Correctional Facility, Jamesville, N.Y. The Onondaga County Department of Facilities Management identified a need to study building energy use and stormwater runoff from roof systems. Temperature and rain data from the project, which includes vegetative roofing, increased insulation levels and “cool” roofs, will provide information about building performance and roof covering selection.

“ARMA members promote a balanced approach to roofing performance, especially when it comes to saving building energy,” says Reed Hitchcock, ARMA’s executive vice president. “Using a whole-building approach, where roofing reflectivity, insulation levels and other design elements are considered in the decision-making process, will help ensure the right system is selected; this project can only help with that decision.”

When the correctional facility was due for a major reroofing project in 2009, Onondaga County saw a unique opportunity to evaluate the water-retention and energy-efficiency performance for a variety of different roof covering assemblies. The project also offered valuable information that could be used to identify the best options for future reroof projects across the county’s entire building inventory.

The county worked with Ashley-McGraw Architects, Syracuse, N.Y., and CDH Energy, Cazenovia, N.Y., to design and install a field monitoring system to collect data on thermal performance, weather conditions and roof runoff from four buildings at the Jamesville facility. CDH Energy released a report in October 2011 that made recommendations on roof covering selection.

Hugh Henderson, P.E., CDH Energy, remarked the original report laid the groundwork for future roofing projects in Onondaga County. “The use of vegetative roof systems as a stormwater control mechanism was the most important takeaway from the first years of the project,” he explains. “Continuing the project will provide a better evaluation of cool roof and insulation products as part of roof designs in colder climates.”

With the instrumentation still in place, it was a simple decision to continue evaluating the roof coverings over a longer time period to better see how roof coverings interact with weather conditions. Of particular interest is the effect of accumulated snow on roofs that may affect the buildings’ thermal performance.

“Roof insulation is an integral part of the design strategy for a building’s energy-efficiency footprint, and this study will help building owners, contractors and architects assess a roof’s performance from a broader basis and ensure the best energy efficient components are used,” adds Jared Blum, PIMA president.

The Onondaga County reroofing project includes an analysis of the comparison of cool roof technologies, consisting of reflective roof surfaces and high-performing well-insulated roof covering assemblies. “Our members produce reflective and absorptive roof coverings; this study will provide meaningful data that can help designers select the right products for their particular project, regardless of where in the country the roof will be installed,” notes Ellen Thorp, ERA’s associate executive director.

The project is expected to run through 2015.

Polyiso Insulation to Be Used in Innovative Apartment Complex for the Homeless

Polyiso roof insulation will be used in an innovative apartment building project that combines state-of-the-art environmental features with affordable rents for homeless families. The polyiso insulation, donated by the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Associations (PIMA), Hunter Panels and Atlas Roofing Co., will be used in the Transitional Housing Corp.’s Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Commons (Weinberg Commons).

The Washington, D.C., Weinberg Commons will reclaim three blighted buildings in Southeast D.C., using Passive House architectural principles that reduce the carbon footprint and the utility costs for low-income tenants.

When finished in mid-2015, the apartments will provide 36 low and moderate income families including 12 homeless or formerly homeless families with below-market rents, employment services and other support for youth and families. One-third of the units will be reserved for families with more intensive needs.

“Our goal is sustainability, not just in the environmental sense, but in an economic sense to keep these families in a stable, supportive situation,: said Polly Donaldson, executive director of the Transitional Housing Corporation, a D.C.-based nonprofit that functions as the co-developer, landlord and service provider on this project.

Generally considered the most stringent energy standard in the world, Passive House building is an innovative approach to net-zero building. Instead of relying on active energy reduction systems with high installation costs, Passive House buildings concentrate on energy use reduction. Passive House buildings work with natural systems to manage heat gain and loss, saving up to 90% of utility costs. In fact, the U.S. DOE recognizes the Passive House approach as the most efficient means of achieving net-zero building operations

“It is a privilege for our members to be part of a project that addresses both homelessness and sustainable housing,” said Jared Blum, President, PIMA. “Polyiso insulation is known for it high thermal performance and will be a key contributor for this net-zero building that is extremely insulated, heated by passive solar gains and requires ultra-low energy for space heating or cooling.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for Weinberg Commons was held in October and attended by Washington Mayor Vincent Gray.