Re-Roof of Busy Post Office Facility Becomes Award-Winning Project

Crews from Roofing Solutions replaced the 300,000-square-foot roof on the United States Post Office General Mail Facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photos: Sam Barnes

The United States Post Office General Mail Facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, manages mail for the entire Greater Baton Rouge area. When the roof on the 300,000-square-foot building was nearing the end of its useful life, it was clear the roof replacement project would pose some big challenges. It was a given that the new roof system must prove durable and reliable to protect the mail delivery system that businesses and individuals rely on every day. It was also critical that the re-roofing work would not interfere with mail processing at the facility, which operates around the clock.

Architect Crump Wilson and Wharry Engineering specified an asphalt roofing system for the project — a two-ply modified bitumen system manufactured by SOPREMA. All parties agreed that asphalt was the best roofing solution for the facility due to its longevity, durability, and long-term dependability.

Roofing Solutions, LLC, headquartered in Prairieville, Louisiana, was invited to bid on the project. “We were the successful low bidder,” says Tupac de la Cruz, the company’s founder and operations manager. “When we started working on the planning and phasing, we realized the job was going to be an undertaking because, number one, it was a big-size job, and number two, the facility works 24-7.”

Completing the project without interrupting operations would be the biggest challenge on the project. Crews could not interfere with traffic flow and mail deliveries, and would have to protect people and sensitive machinery inside.

“Before beginning the re-roof project, we were given a full tour of the facility,” de la Cruz says. “It was an eye-opening experience to see the equipment, systems, and personnel that manage the mail delivery process from start to finish. You had to coordinate with the facility manager, the transportation manager, and multiple stakeholders to make sure that you did not interrupt all of the conveyor lines sorting all of the mail coming in and out of that facility every day.”

Working in Sections

The deck was exposed to the interior, increasing the risk of dust falling onto the equipment, so Roofing Solutions crews installed a 6-mm protective film using a Spyder lift. “We installed special sheathing underneath the deck to protect the conveyor systems and all of the equipment,” noted de la Cruz. “We also had to protect the workers and make sure that there was no noise, no dust, or any disruptions from anything to do with the roof replacement.”

Sunbelt Vacuum Service was contracted to remove the rooftop gravel. Then the old built-up plies were then cut up and removed by hand. “We had a metal deck, and we couldn’t put any heavy equipment on it,” de la Cruz recalls.

Work proceeded in sections to ensure everything remained watertight. “You had to cover everything you’d demo the same day,” de la Cruz says. “In the summertime in Louisiana, it can rain almost every afternoon.”

The new roof system included two layers of mechanically attached polyiso insulation, which was topped with SOPRABOARD, an asphaltic cover board, which was adhered with COLPLY adhesive. The two ply system was comprised of a base play and a cap sheet Designers chose SOPREMA’s Solar Granule cap sheet membrane, which provides the benefit of high reflectivity. Torches were not allowed on the project, so the membrane was set in cold adhesive. “Because we could not use any torches, all of the laps for modified bitumen cap had to be sheet welded with a robot like you were doing single-ply,” notes de la Cruz.

The roof system specified for the project was a two-ply modified bitumen system topped with SOPREMA’s Solar Granule cap sheet membrane.

Most of the roof area was clear sailing, but access at the jobsite was limited due to the busy transportation routes. “It was a nice, wide roof,” says del la Cruz. “The hardest part was getting the material from one end of the roof to the other, because we only had access at one point. No motorized vehicles were allowed up there, but we were able to use carts to move material from one end to the other.”

The roof features four large raised sections framed with clerestory windows, and the multiple levels sometimes made moving material difficult. “In some cases, you had to bring the material across one level, bring it up to another level and back down again,” says de la Cruz.

The existing skylights were replaced with new single-slope skylights manufactured by KalWall.

Safety and Security

The safety plan utilized mix of guardrails, perimeter flagging, and safety monitors, depending on the configuration of each section. “We also had to have a flagging man on the bottom to make sure we were not interfering with the 18-wheelers coming in and out with their packages,” de la Cruz says. “The project extended over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and you couldn’t imagine the amount of trucking that goes through that facility during Christmas.”

Making sure everyone was on the same page was crucial. Weekly planning meetings were supplemented with daily huddles. “We met with the facility manager every morning to make sure we let him know where we’d be and what we were going to do that day,” de la Cruz explains, “Every afternoon, we’d let him know what the plan for the next day was so they could plan ahead. It was a very proactive approach.”

The crew, which included 20 men during the peak of the project, usually accomplished 3,000 to 3,500 square feet of demo and roof replacement per day. The project was completed in seven months — three months ahead of schedule.

The project was recognized by the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association as the Silver Award winner in the 2020 ARMA Excellence In Asphalt Roofing Awards program, which recognizes industry professionals for their high-performing steep-slope and low-slope asphalt roofing projects across North America.

“We had such pride in completing that project because it was so large and we had zero injuries, no issues, and the client was very happy. We decided to submit it, and we got the award,” says de la Cruz.

“We finished the project about three months ahead of schedule, and we were able to complete the job with no interruptions to the facility. We knew if we could do that, in the end it would be a successful project.”

For more information about submitting a project for the Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards, visit www.asphaltroofing.org.

TEAM

Architect: Crump Wilson, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, www.crumpwilsonarchitects.com

Roof Consultant: Wharry Engineering, Garland, Texas, www.wharry.com

Roofing Contractor: Roofing Solutions LLC, Prairieville, Louisiana, www.roofingsolutionsla.com

MATERIALS

Membrane: SG Solar Granule Cap Sheet, SOPREMA, www.soprema.us

Cover Board: SOPRABOARD, SOPREMA

Skylights: Kalwall, www.kalwall.com

A Talented Team Meets the Needs of New Children’s Hospital

Key priorities for the roof on the new Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital included durability, resilience and low maintenance. Photos: Roofing Solutions LLC

Roofing is a rewarding job; it is worthwhile to know someone or something is safer thanks to your work and craftsmanship. Every day across North America, roofing systems are helping keep people, possessions and businesses safe. In 2017, a mission to help heal the children of Louisiana began at the groundbreaking ceremony for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

When the hospital opens in the fall of 2019, it will join a statewide network providing families greater access to physicians trained to care for children in more than 25 specialties. The new hospital will also join the Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit group that relies on donations, community support and fundraising partners. Comprised of 170 hospitals in the United States and Canada, the group treats more than 22,000 children a day, and 1 in 10 children in North America are treated by the network each year.

To help protect such an important building, a high-quality roofing system was mandatory. So, the local professionals from Roofing Solutions LLC were enlisted to identify a roofing system that matched the building owner’s requirements: durability, resilience and low maintenance.

Designing the Roofing System

“We were invited to participate in the designing process, and it quickly became more than just a project,” says Tupac de la Cruz, the founder and operations manager of Roofing Solutions LLC. “Due to the nature of the building, we needed roofing materials that possessed exceptional strength and a low-maintenance factor to avoid possibly loud disturbances from upkeep.”

The roof system incorporates designs that reflect the diverse ecosystem of the Louisiana bayou. The theme is carried over to the internal design elements, with each floor evoking the area’s woodlands, marshes and coasts. Photos: Roofing Solutions LLC

The system also needed to support extensive foot traffic and aesthetic customizations, according to de la Cruz. Portions of the roof were colored and decorated to reflect the diverse ecosystem of the Louisiana bayou, helping make the view more comforting. This matched internal design elements too, where each floor is designed to spotlight vibrant ecosystems from throughout Louisiana — including woodlands, marshes and coasts — along with animals indigenous to each region.

“The lower section’s roof is visible from many of the rooms above. By decorating it, we hoped to create a fun surface that would provide the children a greater sense of ease and calm,” notes de la Cruz. “From a professional standpoint, ‘resilient’ became a distinct qualification in the material selection process.”

After conversing with the building owner and HKS Architects, Roofing Solutions LLC decided to install 924,000 square feet of styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) modified bitumen for its proven performance, durability, lifecycle value, resilience and low maintenance.

“When we compared the options, modified bitumen was the best choice for the type of application and the performance the owner was looking for,” says Lauren Reynolds, the business development manager for Roofing Solutions LLC. “Modified bitumen has stood the test of time and proven its capabilities — especially in terms of strength and function — so the decision was made to install an asphalt roofing system.”

Installing the Membranes

The roof system was manufactured by SOPREMA. SOPRA-ISO+ polyisocyanurate foam insulation and a 1/4-inch SOPRABOARD cover board were mechanically fastened to the prepared structural steel deck. The insulation’s closed cell structure is bonded to inorganic, coated glass mat facers on the top and underside. The semi-rigid cover board is composed of a mineral-fortified, asphaltic core formed between two fiberglass reinforcing piles designed to enhance the strength and impact resistance of the system and help protect the insulation below.

Roofing Solutions LLC installed 924,000 square feet of modified bitumen roof system. Photos: Roofing Solutions LLC

For the base ply of this multi-ply system, a layer of ELASTOPHENE FLAM 2.2 SBS-modified bitumen was heat welded to the cover board. The base membrane is reinforced with a high-quality, random glass fiber mat and is surfaced with polyolefin burn-off film to optimize welding. The asphaltic cap sheet used was ELASTOPHENE FLAM LS FR GR, a fire-retardant membrane that’s surfaced with ceramic coated granules.

For the flashings, SOPRALENE FLAM 180 was used due to its dimensionally stable, non-woven polyester mat that adds toughness and durability. The flashing cap sheet selected, SOPRALAST 50 TV ALU, incorporates a high strength glass scrim and the topside is surfaced with a reflective aluminum foil, which is designed to improve UV resistance.

“We felt an asphalt roofing installation would provide the best long-term value and reliability,” de la Cruz says. “We worked closely with the architect and general contractor to ensure a proper application of these high-quality materials.”

While Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s roof is complete, the entire project will not be finished until the fall. When the hospital officially opens, it will begin helping children from across the state heal.

Recognized for Asphalt Roofing Excellence

For its displays of craftsmanship, Roofing Solutions LLC was honored at the International Roofing Expo by the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) through its Excellence in Asphalt Roofing awards program. The free-to-enter program recognizes outstanding steep and low-slope asphalt roofing projects and contractors from across North America.

“Excellence in Asphalt Roofing allows us to recognize contractors who use asphalt roofing systems to make a difference in their communities,” says ARMA’s Executive Vice President Reed Hitchcock. “Asphalt roofing’s aesthetics, durability and reliability provide peace of mind to building and homeowners alike. We are truly proud that asphalt roofing played an important role in establishing Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.”

Submissions are now open for the 2020 Excellence in Asphalt Roofing awards program. To submit your project or to learn more about asphalt roofing systems, visit www.asphaltroofing.org.

About the Author: Chadwick Collins is ARMA’s Director of Technical Services. For more information, visit www.asphaltroofing.org.

TEAM

Architect: HKS Architects, Dallas, Texas, www.hksinc.com

Roofing Contractor: Roofing Solutions LLC, Prairieville, Louisiana, http://roofingsolutionsla.com

MATERIALS

Insulation: SOPRA-ISO+, SOPREMA, https://soprema.us

Cover Board: 1/4-inch SOPRABOARD, SOPREMA

Base Ply: ELASTOPHENE FLAM 2.2 SBS, SOPREMA

Cap Sheet: ELASTOPHENE FLAM LS FR GR, SOPREMA

Base Flashing: SOPRALENE FLAM 180, SOPREMA

Flashing Cap Sheet: SOPRALAST 50 TV ALU, SOPREMA