Seeing the Light

Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes. What hurts the most is when we miss an obvious solution to a problem — when we look back at a difficult time and realize an option we didn’t take advantage of was staring us in the face all along. Picture Homer Simpson smacking his forehead and exclaiming, “D’oh!”

When we look back at this time in history, I think that’s how we’ll feel about adopting solar power. No matter what your opinion is about other forms of energy, including fossil fuels, nuclear power plants, and wind turbines, I think you’d have to admit that we aren’t making enough use of solar. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think it’s obvious that in the rays of the sun, we have a tremendous renewable resource that is mostly going by the wayside.

I interviewed a plumbing contractor a few years ago who specialized in passive solar hot water systems. He said the inspiration came to him when he picked up a garden hose that had been out in the sun and the water nearly scalded his hand. “It was then I thought, ‘Why am I paying a utility to heat the water in my house?’” he said.

I was reminded of that conversation when I interviewed Martin DeBono of GAF Energy for this issue. Before entering the world of rooftop solar, DeBono had a background as a nuclear engineer and served as a submarine officer in the Navy. “I’ve always been fascinated by solar,” he said. “The sun provides the equivalent amount of energy in one hour as all of the world’s power plants produce in a whole year. You combine that with the fact that I am a huge outdoors person — I love the outdoors —and you can see some of the challenges the world faces by relying on fossil fuels.”

His job also allows him to tap into his love of building things. “Last week I built a mock-up roof in my driveway with a mock-up solar system to show some executives and some family and friends what we do,” DeBono said. “So, solar gives me the opportunity to build, to think, to advance technology and do something I believe in.”

DeBono believes in making the most of technology to harness the power of the sun. He also believes in another obvious point: the roof is the domain of the roofing contractor. “We firmly believe that roofers should be installing the system and ensuring the integrity of the roof,” he said. “You do not want anybody other than a roofing contractor working on your roof.”

The Future of Construction Projects: Geofencing, BIM and Smart Contracts

The modern-day construction project is quickly moving into the future. Within the next few years, an automated materials delivery truck will deliver an order of lumber to a project site without the need for physical labor, and as the material is incorporated into the project a 3D model will be automatically generated and stored on blockchain. Three technologies that roofing contractors and those involved in the construction industry need to be aware of are geofencing, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and smart contracts. Together, these three technologies will forever alter the modern construction project landscape.

What Is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a virtual perimeter around a single point with predefined boundaries created for a real-world area such as a construction site.1Geofencing uses either Global Positioning System (GPS) or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to map the boundaries and track objects traveling in and out of the virtual perimeter. 

GPS is a satellite-based global navigation system that provides geolocation anywhere on Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. Geofencing with GPS works well when applied to construction projects due to its ability to be used anywhere in the world. GPS technology works with geofencing software to track equipment and people, as well as sending real-time alerts and notifications to project managers and contractors. 

RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The most common use of RFID is tracking large retail store product movement and inventory. In fact, RFID technology has replaced the old barcode system because it is more efficient. RFID tags may be attached to heavy equipment and/or on employee’s personal protective equipment (PPE) to track their movements in order to give contractors a deeper understanding of the project workflow and needs. 

Tags or other electronic communication tools (i.e., GPS, iPhone, etc.) placed on/in physical objects communicate instantly with administrators using geofencing software. Geofencing software installed on computers, iPads, and other electronic devices allows the user to receive real-time information on who and what has entered or left the geo-fenced area, as well as other information such as object height and time spent in the area. The devices with geofencing software can receive text messages, email notifications, phone calls, and other forms of communication indicating when an object has left or entered a geo-fenced area. 

Programs that incorporate the geofencing software may be programmed to set up “triggers” that notify the administrators when an object has left the geo-fenced area. For example, heavy equipment can be retrofitted with a RFID tag that is set to trigger when it leaves a geo-fenced area and instantaneously send a notification to a project manager’s phone or tablet, allowing the manager to immediately act upon the information.

How Can Geofencing Technology be Used by Contractors?

Contractors can apply geofencing technology to a number of different aspects related to most construction projects. Fortunately, most contractors already supply project managers and other supervisors with mobile devices capable of using geofence software, making implementation of geofence programs an easy next step. Purchasing RFID tags and GPS equipment is one of the only primary costs associated with this new technology. 

· Security: An obvious and practical application geofencing provides contractors and equipment owners with is security. Heavy equipment, expensive machinery, and other tools can be equipped with RFID tags that, when moved outside the geo-fenced area, will immediately send a notification to a project manager or owner, via text message or other, informing them that the equipment has moved. This gives the party receiving the alert an opportunity to immediately call emergency services and report a theft-in-progress, rather than discovering the theft at a later date and reporting it at that time. Further, with stolen vehicle technology, a contractor, project manager, or equipment owner may also disable the equipment to fully prevent the theft. 

Installing RFID tags on expensive construction equipment provides those with vested interests in construction projects with the ability to lower costs related to theft and theft recovery. Further, preventing construction project theft will lower the high costs associated with project delays caused by replacing equipment. 

· Material Supply: Geofencing software will allow contractors and project managers to have ample electronic data to monitor the progress of construction projects. For one, geofencing software will specify when supplies have been delivered to the project, how long they have been on site before incorporation into the project, and where the materials have been incorporated. This allows contractors and project managers to better allocate materials to reduce the amount of overstock and loss or damage of materials due to non-use. As will be discussed in much greater detail later in the article, combining geofencing technology with smart contracts will heavily reduce costs associated with material delivery and payment problems. 

· Fleet Management: Geofencing can also be used to monitor the arrival and departure of trucks on a project. Placing RFID tags or installing geofencing software on the trucks navigation system will allow for easy monitoring of the truck’s movement. Project managers can receive immediate notification when a fleet truck arrives or departs from the project. This will allow the contractor to save on administrative expenses related to tracking fleet movement. Geofencing will also allow fleet owners to monitor the amount of time trucks take to move from point A to point B in order to better coordinate the fleet in the future. 

· Labor Savings and Monitoring: The data collected from geofencing software can be used to supplement claims for overtime and the amount of labor used during a construction project. Often contractors are forced to litigate issues relating to the number of employees working on a jobsite, the number of hours worked, and when the workers were on site. Geofence technology will allow contractors to store and compile labor information in an easy-to-use format to save on expensive litigation costs. 

Further, project managers will be able to monitor whether employees remain within the authorized project perimeter. This allows contractors to ensure employees remain diligent and focused on their work and reduce labor costs due to inefficient labor. In addition, if/when disputes arise as to whether employees worked a number of hours of overtime, both parties will have the geofencing data to quickly resolve the dispute and return to business as usual. All that is necessary to achieve the aforementioned benefits is placement of RFID tags on PPE or installation of geofencing applications on employees’ smart phones.

· Site Grading: Geofencing software installed on heavy equipment can help track with greater accuracy and increase progress towards proper grade, as opposed to using traditional methods such as survey stakes. A GPS device may also be installed within the heavy equipment’s cabin, allowing the operator to accurately monitor his or her progress. All of this information can be relayed to the project manager to better assist in deciding when to order supplies and labor to move on to the next phase of the construction project. 

· Increased SafetyGeofencing perimeters can be created around hazardous work areas to prevent unauthorized employees from entering the area and risking injury. This can be accomplished by creating the perimeter and setting RFID tags to send an alert to a project manager when unauthorized personnel enters the dangerous area. The project manager can then contact the foreman to ensure that the employee moves to a safer location or trigger an onsite siren. Contractors who utilize geofencing software for all employees, via their smart phones, can even have an alert sent to the specific employee who has entered the unsafe area, warning them to leave immediately. 

Geofencing tags located on mobile equipment can also monitor the speed that the equipment is traveling. If the equipment exceeds the safe speed limit, a foreperson can be notified. 

As it should be clear, geofencing technology offers contractors an abundance of benefits that will drive down costs and time associated with project completion. While geofencing will have a positive impact on projects, there still will be costs associated with implementing and using the new technology.

The Costs of Geofencing Technology

As previously stated, most contractors already supply project managers and other supervisors with the equipment necessary to implement geofencing (i.e., tablets, smart phones, and laptops). Therefore, one of the largest drawbacks, that being the initial cost of implementation, is already at least partially covered. 

The next step contractors wishing to implement geofencing technology must take is purchasing software compatible with the hardware already in the hands of project managers. The software will need to be implemented by a third party specializing in geofencing. The price of this software will likely pay for itself with the savings associated with geofencing. Further, resources previously allocated towards expensive and time-consuming data analysis will be no longer necessary as geofencing software will automatically compile the data on its own. 

One initial drawback will be training project managers and other employees to use the geofencing software. Contractors and project managers will need to initially educate themselves through third-party geofencing professionals on the ins-and-outs of using the technology. The next step will be educating employees on the intricacies of geofencing technology. If contractors opt to use geofencing software on smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices, the employees will need to know how to respond and comprehend alerts and notifications sent to their devices. This requires a review and update of the employee manual. 

Any change to the workflow of a construction project will have its obvious costs and adaptation period; however, the future is fast approaching and contractors should prepare to embrace this new technology.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

In addition to creating a better understanding of material movement and location, RFID and other geofencing tech can be combined with BIM to supplement 3D models of a construction project. According to the U.S. National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee, BIM is “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility” that can be used as a “reliable basis for decisions … from earliest conception to demolition.”2For example, RFID tags may be placed on decking material, and as the decking material is placed on the structural components of a building, a real-time 3D model is augmented to reflect the addition.

Before BIM, building design was reliant on computer-aided design (CAD). CAD creates a model of a building using three dimensions (width, height and depth), which are in turn used by roofing contractors to complete roofing projects. BIM uses CAD concepts and adds more dimensions, such as time and cost, to give project managers a more complete understanding of project workflow. 

The entire project can be modeled prior to construction beginning by using BIM, allowing for better preconstruction coordination among roofing contractors and other parties on the project. A roofing contractor can have a better understanding of materials and labor needed, as opposed to using older and simpler CAD technology. Further, project managers can use BIM software in concert with smart contracts to automate most of the project. A more detailed discussion of smart contracts and BIM is included later in the article; however, a better understanding of smart contracts and blockchain is necessary before delving into that discussion. 

Blockchain and Smart Contracts

The advantages offered by geofencing technology are abundantly clear. As previously mentioned this article, two of the technologies that will forever reshape the construction project landscape are geofencing and smart contracts. To better understand what smart contracts are and how they will also help drive the construction industry into the modern era, a basic understanding of blockchain is necessary. 

If you’ve ever used Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, then you already have a basic understanding of blockchain. Certain cloud-based programs allow a number of users to access a document at the same time, and as each user edits or adds to the document, all of the other users are able to view these changes and additions in real time. Blockchains work in an analogous manner. They are a database that tracks transactions, in the order they occur, and creates a record of each transaction. 

By combining blockchains with smart contracts, as well as BIM, a new form of project management can be, and already has been, created. In its simplest form, a smart contract is “a computer program that works on the if/thenprinciple.”3For example, ifa roofing contractor has installed decking on a building, then an inspection is requested to ensure the decking has been properly installed. If the roof deck passes inspection, then the roofing contractor is paid for his work and can be given authorization to continue to the next phase of the roofing installation. All of the different smart contract sections, as well as changes made to them, will be permanently recorded on the blockchain, eliminating a number of different issues inherent with typical project management.

Smart contracts work together on what is known as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). The DAO is an organization that is run through rules encoded as the smart contracts. The DAO provides the ability of blockchain to deliver a secure record of the different transactions that occur. This enables roofing contractors and other individuals involved on a construction project to view the current status of the project on a fixed record that encompasses all of the transactions that have taken place.

Smart Contracts and Geofencing

Geofencing data, RFID triggers, and notifications can be used as a supplement to smart contracts that govern a construction project. Working together, these two dynamic technologies can increase project efficiency and lower project costs. 

· Materials: One of the biggest geofencing and smart contract applications is through material purchase, delivery, use, and payment. All contractors are familiar with the problems inherent in construction projects regarding payment. Subcontractors who finish their work want to be promptly paid, they want to have regular disbursements of payment if the payment isn’t to be made in full at project end, and they want the retainage held by the general contractor/owner. General contractors want to ensure that the work performed by their subcontractors passes inspection before releasing funds and will hold on to the retainage until such inspection is passed. When disputes arise as to the quality or progress of work performed, late payment issues will inevitably rear their ugly heads. With blockchain, many of these issues can be avoided, or at the very least mitigated, through the use of smart contracts which automatically provide payment when different aspects of a project are completed.

Just as with subcontractors and general contractors, the same issues arise between subs, general contractors, and their material suppliers. Issues arise over the delivery timing, prompt payment, payment amount, and a host of related problems. Combining smart contracts and geofencing, many of these problems can be alleviated. 

Using the if/then principle and site grading example mentioned previously, if the site grading equipment communicates to the project manager that proper grade has been achieved, then materials, such as concrete and steel, can automatically be ordered for delivery to begin the fill process. Once materials arrive on the site, and a project manager verifies that they are as contracted for, a trigger will be sent to the blockchain automatically sending payment to the material supplier. Further, if the materials arrive on time, labor may be directed to complete the site grading and filling process of the construction project. This simple example demonstrates the amount of resources saved and increased project efficiency from use of this new technology. 

· Labor: Another symbiotic effect from combining geofencing technology with smart contracts has to do with paying employees for their labor. As previously stated, geofencing allows contractors to monitor when and for what amount of time employees are on-site. Smart contracts allow employees to be paid automatically for labor performed. 

Employees who wear geofencing RFID tags or have geofencing software applications installed on their smart phones will be able to have their clock-in and clock-out times automatically recorded based on their entering the geofence perimeter. The geofencing software can communicate this information to the smart contract, and release payment according to the specific terms programmed in the contract. This removes the clerical and human error often found in standard time-keeping tools used today.

· Reduced “Paper Trail” Litigation: Owners and suppliers have become well aware of the legalities involved in most construction projects and are often ready to take advantage of the unprepared roofing contractor. When a construction project ends up in litigation, the party with most detailed and descriptive paper trail will typically be the most successful in the courtroom. 

Most contractors know to keep accurate written records of all communications involving disagreements over workmanship, material arrival or other potential information that is involved in claims on a project. These written records can include change orders, emails, text messages, and other correspondence. 

Geofencing and smart contracts will work to remove a number of the costs associated with litigating disputes between contractors and their employees when it comes to overtime and other employment related issues, as the data will be stored on the blockchain. A blockchain is “essentially a distributed database of records, or public ledger of all transactions or digital events that have been executed and shared among participating parties.”4Once a record has been created on the blockchain, it can never be deleted. This allows for instant verification that a transaction has occurred and allows for participants to view the transaction. Blockchain removes uncertainty from the playing field and allows for consensus between parties. All those involved with a construction project will be able to view transactions as they happen, eliminating uncertainty that usually comes with whether an employee was on-site and for what amount of time. 

Smart Contracts, Geofencing and BIM

Smart contracts and geofencing information can be used even further by being embedded within a BIM model that is secured by blockchain. BIM software allows data inputs from multiple sources. These sources can include smart contracts and geofencing data. 

As stated earlier, BIM can incorporate more than just the three standard dimensions of width, height, and depth. BIM can incorporate time and cost. The dimensions of time and cost can be further supplemented with smart contracts within the BIM software so that the entire project is centered on one convenient application. Building on the prior example of placing RFID tags on roof deck materials, once the roof deck has been installed, BIM software can work with the smart contract if/then principle to automatically send payment for completion of a portion of the scope of work, and request the next phase of the project to begin.

Through the use of blockchain technology, smart contracts, BIM and geofencing, construction projects could enter into a new, technology-driven, risk adverse system that reduces disputes and increases the likelihood of prompt payment and project efficiency. Roofing contractors and the rest of the construction industry will need to work together over the coming years to adapt to this new phase of construction projects. Soon all aspects of a construction project will be included in a singular platform that allows all those involved, including contractors, government officials, lawyers, and so on to work dynamically to reach project completion. 

About the author: Trent Cotney, CEO of Cotney Construction Law, is an advocate for the roofing industry and serves as General Counsel for FRSA, RT3, TARC, WSRCA and several other roofing associations. For more information, contact the author at 866-303-5868 or www.cotneycl.com.

Author’s note: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Sources

Smog-Reducing Granules Harness the Power of the Sun to Improve Air Quality

The 3M Industrial Mineral Products Division recently launched 3M Smog-Reducing Granules to help remove smog pollution (nitrogen oxides or NOx) using roofing shingles. Integrated throughout a shingle’s surface, 3M’s roofing granules are designed with a specialized photocatalytic coating applied to the base mineral. The specialized coating on the granule is activated by the sun’s UV rays, while blending inconspicuously into various shingle color combinations. As sunlight hits the shingles containing the smog-reducing granules, radicals are generated and transform nitrogen oxide gases into water-soluble ions, improving air quality. According to the company, this smart solution for pollution mitigation can help communities contribute toward their NOx emission reduction efforts.

“3M is leading the way with roofing technology solutions for improving environmental impacts on human health and welfare,” said Frank Klink, senior laboratory manager, 3M. “The roofing granules are a first for residential asphalt shingles. The new 3M granules will help roofing manufacturers develop high quality, aesthetically-pleasing shingles that can turn any roof into an active smog reducing catalyst, essentially becoming smog’s worst enemy.”

To prove out the technology, 3M submitted granule and shingle samples to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for evaluation. Performance testing occurred using challenge gasses in a reaction chamber. Downstream of the system, NOx concentrations were recorded in real time, prior to, during, and after UV illumination. According to the company, the testing validated the efficacy of 3M’s photocatalytic materials in reducing smog and contributing towards air purification.

For more information, visit www.3M.com.

Roofing Technology Think Tank Elects Board of Directors

Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), a group of progressive roofing professionals focused on technology solutions for the roofing industry, announced that it has elected six directors of the board at its May 9 virtual meetup.

RT3 was formed to act as a conduit for curating knowledge on technologies that can help roofing contractors and the roofing industry overall.  Formed in July of 2017, the group has grown from twenty founding members to over sixty.  The think tank was officially incorporated in 2018 and now is proud to announce its new board of directors.

Heidi J. Ellsworth, Partner, RoofersCoffeeShop.com and Karen Inman, Chief Operating Officer, Antis Roofing and Waterproofing, will serve three-year terms on the board. Steve Little, Head Coach at K-Post Roofing and Ken Kelly, President of Kelly Roofing will serve two-year terms while Trent Cotney, Cotney Construction Law and Tom Whitaker, President of Harness Software will serve one-year terms.

The board will support the RT3 mission statement and work to successfully accomplish its objectives to support and advance the adoption of technology within the roofing industry.  According to its mission statement, “Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), is a consortium of thought leaders exploring emerging technology solutions for the roofing industry, striving to inform contractors by bringing together progressive and disruptive solutions that help build the professionalism and appeal of the roofing industry,”

The think tank meets six times a year, four virtual and two live.  Past live meetings included tours of Georgia Tech, BuiltWorlds and the U.S. Capitol.  Future meetings will continue to be held at innovative locations that will help enlighten the group on progressive technologies that can make a difference in the roofing industry.

“It is about education and the initiative to understand and then disseminate innovative technologies into the roofing industry,” stated Heidi J. Ellsworth.  “One of the ways to attract the new generation and a diversified labor force is to incorporate the use of technology including robotics, drones, software, cloud solutions and cutting-edge technologies that we are not even aware of yet.”

For more information, visit www.rt3thinktank.com.

PetersenDean Roofing & Solar Acquires Haleakala Solar

PetersenDean Roofing & Solar has just acquired Hawaii-based Haleakala Solar. Founded in 1977, Haleakala Solar is Hawaii’s largest solar and battery installer.

Haleakala Solar has been installing photovoltaic (PV) solar and water heating systems as well as battery storage solutions for more than 40 years and has completed more than 15,000 projects. There are plans to add roofing installations in the first quarter of the transition. The company operates on three of the Hawaiian Islands and plans to expand into a fourth in 2018. The newly acquired company is poised to add approximately 1,000 new jobs and grow to approximately $100 million in sales over the next 24 months.

Jim Whitcomb, founder of Haleakala Solar, approached Jim Petersen, CEO and President of PetersenDean Roofing & Solar, late last year for a strategic purchase.  “It seemed like the perfect synergy between the two companies,” stated Whitcomb. “In 40 years, Haleakala has grown into the largest residential PV installer in Hawaii so it would only make sense to go straight to the largest rooftop PV installer in the United States when the time came to hand over the reins. We share a commitment to excellence and PetersenDean’s size, organization, and impeccable reputation will take the company to a new level.”

This new acquisition now positions PetersenDean as the nation’s largest publicly- and privately-held roofing and solar company.PetersenDean is a perfect fit for Hawaii given our size and product offerings, in addition, we have the finance options to truly help the island community to install a new roof, solar or a home battery at very low monthly payments,” said Petersen. “We look forward to growing our business in Hawaii and adding more American jobs in doing so.”

Gary Liardon, the President of the Consumer Division of PetersenDean Roofing & Solar, is heading up this transition as well as the additional acquisitions planned across the United States in 2018. “We are excited to add Mr. Whitcomb and the Haleakala team to the ranks. Mr. Whitcomb will stay on and take an active role in the sales development segment of the company in Hawaii as we add new verticals to the market and expand to the remaining islands.”

This planned expansion will increase employment in this Hawaiian segment of the organization to over 1,000 jobs in the next 24 months. Currently, Haleakala Solar employs about 125.

Hawaii has long been a leader in renewable energy. In 2015, it set a mandate that 100 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2045. Regulators also just approved Hawaii Electric’s grid modernization plan along with a suite of demand response and solar tariff programs.

“Solar is a critical part of the state’s energy portfolio. The islands are a virtual incubator for all new technology in this space especially because of the state mandates that require all of the islands to be operating on 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” said Liardon. “Hawaii already boasts some of the highest shares of renewable energy in the country, all on islands isolated from the stability of neighboring grids. That’s made them a natural testing ground for new technologies and regulatory models, including battery-backed solar and wind farms, aggregated demand response and energy storage, peak-shifting electric vehicle charging, and voltage-smoothing smart inverters and grid power electronics.”

PetersenDean continues to represent stability and innovation in both renewable energy and home improvement markets. The company’s solid fiscal performance and scalable systematic approach are paving the way for substantial growth over the next few years.  “With the balance sheet, leadership, and strategic growth roadmap currently in place the company is on pace to grow from $400 million to over $1 billion in revenues over the next few years,” said Petersen.

For more information, visit www.petersendean.com.

Roofing in Romania, Part II: Past as Prologue

[Editor’s Note: In May, Thomas W. Hutchinson presented a paper at the 2017 International Conference on Building Envelope Systems and Technologies (ICBEST) in Istanbul, Turkey, as did his good friend, Dr. Ana-Maria Dabija. After the conference, Hutchinson delivered a lecture to the architectural students at the University of Architecture in Bucharest, Romania, and spent several days touring Romania, exploring the country’s historic buildings and new architecture. Convinced that readers in the United States would appreciate information on how other countries treat roofing, he asked Dr. Dabija to report on roof systems in Romania. The first article, “Roofing in Romania: Lessons From the Past,” was published in the July/August issue of Roofing. In this follow-up article, Dr. Dabija continues her exploration of the forces shaping the architecture of Romania.]

A late 19th or early 20th century residential building in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

(Photo 1) A late 19th or early 20th century residential building in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

In buildings as well as in other fields of activity, there are at least three determinant factors in the choice of products:

  1. The technology. A key driving force is the technology that improves a product or system. Some systems are not at all new—the ones that use solar power, for instance—but are periodically forgotten and rediscovered; this is another story. The history of past performance is important here as well, as is the skill of the contractors installing the material or system. Technological advancements can mark important developments in industry, but the field is littered with “new and improved” products that never panned out, failed and are out of the market.
  2. The economy. The state of the economy is directly related to the state of the technology; better efficiency in the use of a type of resource leads to the use of more of that resource, as well as to a change of human behavior that adapts to the specific use of the resource. This dynamic is referred to as “the Jevons paradox” or “the rebound effect.” In a nutshell, William Stanley Jevons observed, in his 1865 book “The Coal Question,” that improvements in the way fuel is used increased the overall quantity of the utilized fuel: “It is a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth.” On the other hand, it seems that innovation is mainly accomplished in periods of crisis, as a crisis obliges one to re-evaluate what one has and to make the best of it.
  3. The political will. As one of the great contemporary architects, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, stated, “Architecture is the will of the epoch translated into space.”

Like many other things, buildings can be read from the perspective of these factors. And so we go back to square one: history.

(Photo 2) Palace of the National Bank of Romania (1883-1900), designed by architects Cassien Bernard, Albert Galleron, Grigore Cerkez, and Constantin Băicoianu. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

Our excursion in the history of the roofing systems in Romania moves from the 19th century to the present. As mentioned in the previous article, the use of metal sheets and tiles began sometime in the late 17th century (although lead hydro-insulation seems to have been used in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the sixth or seventh century, B.C.).

The Industrial Revolution that spread from the late 18th to the mid 19th century included the development of iron production processes, thus leading to the flourishing of a new range of building materials: the roofing products. The surfaces that can be covered with metal elements—tiles or sheets—span from low slopes to vertical. More complicated roofs appeared, sometimes combining different systems: pitched or curved roofs use tiles while low slopes are covered with flat sheets.

Copper, painted or galvanized common metal, zinc or other alloys cut in tiles and sheets, with different shapes or fixings—the metal roofs of the old buildings are a gift to us, from a generation that valued details more than we do, today (Photo 1).

(Photo 3) The Palace of the School of Architecture in Bucharest, designed by architect Grigore Cerchez. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

In the second half of the 19th century, in 1859, two of the historic Romanian provinces—Walachia and Moldova—united under the rule of a single reigning monarch, and, in 1866, a German prince, Karl, from the family of Hohenzollern, became king of the United Principalities. In 1877 the War of Independence set us free from the Turkish Empire and led to the birth of the new kingdom of Romania. The new political situation led to the need of developing administrative institutions as well as cultural institutions, which—in their turn—needed representative buildings to host them. In only a few decades these buildings rose in all the important cities throughout the country.

The influence of the French architecture style is very strong in this period as, in the beginning, architects that worked in Romania were either educated in Paris or came from there. It is the case with the Palace of the National Bank of Romania (Photo 2), designed by two French architects and two Romanian ones.

(Photo 4) A detail of the inner courtyard and roof at the Central School by architect Ion Mincu, 1890. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

The end of the 19th century is marked by the Art Nouveau movement throughout the whole world, with particular features in architecture revealing themselves in different European countries. In Romania, the style reinterprets the features of the architecture of the late 1600s, thus being called (how else?) the Neo-Romanian style. A few fabulous examples of this period that can be seen in Bucharest include the Palace of the School of Architecture (Photo 3), the Central School (Photo 4), the City Hall (Photo 5). Most of the roofs of this period use either clay tiles or metal tiles and metal sheets (Photos 6 and 7).

In parallel with the rise of the Art Nouveau style in Europe, the United States created the Chicago School, mainly in relation to high-rise office buildings. This movement was reinterpreted in the international Modernist period (between the two World Wars).

As a consequence of the Romanian participation in the First World War, in 1918 Basarabia (today a part of the Republic of Moldova, the previous Soviet state of Moldova), Bucovina (today partly in Ukraine) and Transylvania were united with Romania. The state was called Greater Romania. The capital city was Bucharest. Residential buildings as well as administrative buildings spread on both sides of the grand boulevards of the thirties, built in a genuine Romanian Modernist style (Photo 8).

(Photo 5) Bucharest City Hall, by architect Petre Antonescu 1906-1910. Photo Joe Mabel, Creative Commons Attribution.

Influences from the Chicago School are present in the roof types. Flat roofs began to be used, sometimes even provided with roof gardens (although none have survived to our day). It is probable that the hydro-insulation was a “layer cake” of melted bitumen, asphalt fabric and asphalt board, everything topped with a protection against UV and IR radiation. The “recipe” was mostly preserved and used until the mid-90s.

In the second half of the 20th century, the most common roofs were the bitumen membranes, installed layer after layer. Residential buildings and most administrative buildings had flat roofs. Still, in the center of the cities, more elaborate architecture was designed, so next to a church with a metallic roof, you might find a residential block of flats with pitched roofs covered with metal tiles, behind which the lofts are used as apartments (Photo 9).

Most of the urban mass dwellings, however, were provided with flat roofs (Photo 10). Even the famous House of the People (Photo 11)—the world’s second-largest building after the Pentagon—has flat roofs with the hydro-insulation made of bitumen (fabric and board layers).

(Photo 6) Residential buildings built in the late 19th or early 20th century in the center of Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

Corrugated steel boards or fiberboards were mainly used in industrial buildings and sometimes in village dwellings, replacing the wooden shingles as a roofing solution that could be easily installed (Photo 12).

After 1989, when the communist block collapsed, products from all over the world entered the market. The residential segment of the market exploded, as wealthy people wanted to own houses and not apartments. Pitched roofs became an interesting option, and the conversion of the loft in living spaces was also promoted. Corrugated steel panels, with traditional or vivid colors, invaded the roofs, serving as a rapid solution both for new and older buildings that needed to be refurbished. Skylights, solar tunnels and solar panels also found their way onto the traditional roofs as the new developments continued (Photo 13).

Today the building design market is mainly divided between the residential market and the office-retail market. Where roofs are concerned, unlike the period that ended in 1989 (with a vast majority of buildings with flat roofs, insulated with bitumen layers), most individual dwellings and collective dwellings with a small number of floors (3-4) are provided with pitched roofs, mainly covered with corrugated steel panels.

(Photo 7) The Minovici Villa, architect Cristofi Cerchez, 1913. Photo: Camil Iamandescu, Creative Commons Attribution.

For the high-rise buildings, the bitumen membranes (APP as well as SBS) are still the most common option, but during the past decade, elastomeric polyurethane and vinyl coatings have also been installed, with varying degrees of success. EPDM membranes, more expensive than the modified bitumen ones, are used on a smaller scale. PVC membranes have also been a choice for architects, as in the case of the “Henry Coandă” Internațional Airport in Bucharest. Bitumen shingles also cover the McDonalds buildings and other steep-slope roofs. In the last few years, green roofs became more interesting so, more such solutions are beginning to grow on our buildings.

The roof is not only the system that protects a building against weathering; today it is an important support for devices that save or produce energy. It will always be the fifth façade of the building, and it will always represent a water leakage-sensitive component of the envelope that should be dealt with professionally and responsibly. To end the article with a witty irony, the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright is supposed to have said, “If the roof doesn’t leak, the architect hasn’t been creative enough.”

(Photo 8) The Magheru Boulevard in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

(Photo 9) Apartment buildings of the late 20th century in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija

(Photo 10) Mass dwelling building of the mid-1980s. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

(Photo 11) The House of the People (today the House of the Parliament) is still unfinished. The main architect is Anca Petrescu. Photo: Mihai Petre, Creative Commons Attricbution CC BY-SA 3.0.

(Photo 12) Corrugated fiberboard on a traditional house in the Northern part of Romania. Photo: Alexandru Stan.

(Photo 13) The roof of the historic building of the Palace of the School of Architecture, with skylights, sun tunnels and BIPV panels. Photo: Silviu Gheorghe.

DRG and GAF Launch App to Manage Reviews

Diversity Resources Group (DRG) and GAF have launched pulseM, an app that allows contractors to obtain and manage reviews from customers and employees. It is available to GAF Master Elite, Certified, Master, Master Select, and Premium Coating System Contractors across the U.S. and Canada. The technology allows customers to leave reviews via speech or text in a 30- to 45-second mobile phone survey. Positive reviews can be posted to social media channels while negative reviews are sent directly to owners. Additionally, pulseM offers a gamified employee accountability solution, providing companies a real-time window into employee performance. For more information about DRG, visit here. GAF factory-certified contractors can contact their local territory manager for information on accessing pulseM.

Grow Your Business with Tech in 2017

In a contractor’s day, there is no such thing as downtime. Therefore, when contractors told us one of their biggest challenges was not being able to access the tools they need to run their businesses anytime day or night we listened. It’s why ABC Supply created the ABC Connect program in 2015. This program makes it easier for contractors to work with us by integrating with trusted business-management systems—AccuLynx Quick Order and EagleView Construct—contractors are already using. ABC Connect helps contractors create estimates and place orders quickly and easily, so they can run their projects more efficiently.

ABC Connect also integrates with our Pictureit software to allow contractors to create virtual photo renderings that can shorten the customer decision cycle. Pictureit provides pre-mapped stock imagery, which includes more than 80 popular North American home styles, or you can upload a photo of your customer’s home.

So far more than 2,700 contractors have used the ABC Connect program. One of those users is Catherine Brenneman, the director of operations at Authority Roofing in Frisco, Texas. Brenneman’s role at the company is to identify business solutions that streamline operations, to save her team time and help the company stand out from competitors.

She recognized the need to bring more tech into her company’s way of doing business, so she turned to the ABC Supply Connect program, which integrates with her software system to provide 24/7 access to ABC Supply’s products and pricing. ABC Connect makes ordering building materials seamless, so Brenneman can place orders faster. The system also ensures the accuracy she expects, so the right product is selected, purchased and delivered.

Here are some ways ABC Connect boosted Authority Roofing’s business:

    Streamlined Ordering
    Authority Roofing’s business serves more than 30 cities across four counties, so new jobs come in constantly and the ordering process never stops. Because ABC Connect integrates with the software Brenneman already uses, she is able to easily turn material lists into orders as she receives them. And because orders are created electronically, the system can flag issues so mishaps are caught before they become problems that impact deliveries.

    Total Product Visibility
    Like any contractor, Brenneman knows what products her supplier offers. But even the most experienced professional needs to occasionally look up items and prices—especially the ones he or she does not frequently order. Instead of having to pick up the phone and talk to her supplier or visit a location, Brenneman has her entire ABC Supply branch’s product line at her fingertips and can search for the information she needs through the ABC Connect integration with her software. This gives her the opportunity to take on other projects during the day.

    Anytime Access
    Brenneman needed a way to place orders 24/7. Whether she’s at the job site, in the office or at home, ABC Connect’s integration with her software lets her turn an estimate into an order with just a few clicks.

By integrating technology like ABC Connect into your workflow, you will immediately see the benefits, from cutting the time it takes to create estimates and place orders to improving job-site safety.

Whether you are considering ABC Connect or another tech program, here are five areas of business that every contractor can improve with the use of technology.

    Managing a Job
    Technology yields two important benefits: you can store information electronically (including placed orders) and you can build material list templates. These benefits enable you to order (and reorder) materials faster. Project management software also enables you to keep every document, photo and/or video pertaining to a job in one place, which helps with organization, makes files more accessible, and makes it easier for you and your team to stay on the same page.

    Another advantage of working with an electronic project management program is that it can decrease costs associated with purchasing and printing paper while freeing up space that you’d otherwise need to store paper files.

    Communicating with the Team
    Your projects often involve many different people and hundreds of details. If one detail is missed, it could mean a project is delayed, costs more or has to be redone. To avoid this, make sure your crew is as connected and informed as possible on the job by embracing mobile apps and devices. Technology helps your crew better communicate with each other by allowing them to track and update jobs from the field so that everyone knows the current status of projects.

    Whether on a job site, in the truck or at the office, technology can help your team retrieve project status updates and communicate with each other and suppliers from anywhere, which can increase overall work production and efficiency.

    Estimating Projects More Accurately
    Accurate estimates can make or break a job. One of the benefits of using an aerial measurement program is that it can provide accurate measurements without requiring a crew member to climb onto a roof. Not only does this make things safer for your crew and reduce the chance of over or underestimating the amount of materials needed for a job, but using measurement programs that integrate with your supplier makes placing orders more accurate.

    Ordering Building Materials
    Contractors rarely have traditional 9-to-5 workdays, so it’s important to have the ability to place orders anytime, anywhere. The ABC Connect program makes ordering building materials seamless, so contractors can place orders online, 24/7. The system also ensures the accuracy contractors need by flagging issues before they impact a job and sending a confirmation notification when materials arrive at a job site.

    As you’re looking to add more tech solutions to your business, know that your supplier is also improving their processes with tech. For example, ABC Supply uses a delivery notification system that confirms when your crew receives the materials for a job.

    Working with Customers
    Not only does tech help improve your workflow, it also makes it easier to work with customers. Leveraging tech tools can help you bid faster and provide digital models of projects before they start. With online product visibility through tools like ABC Connect, you can quickly respond to potential customers by sending accurate information electronically. The ABC Connect program’s partnership with common software platforms also lets you distribute bids and reports that include your company’s customized branding.

    Using digital models of a job can help you amplify sales pitches by accurately showing prospective customers what their finished projects will look like before the job starts. Having the ability to work together with your customers to create digital photo renderings of their homes will also help them feel confident about the remodeling decisions that they are about to make.

    Keeping a Job Site Safe
    Technology can and should be used to improve safety. Here are some ways that it can help:

  • Limit salespeople’s time on elevated surfaces by capturing ultra-accurate images and dimensions from photos, drones and aerial imaging software.
  • Know if a job site is hazardous before you arrive using satellite imagery, and arrive safely using mobile mapping systems.
  • Anticipate structural faults without entering the building by using high-powered thermal cameras. This type of tool can also save you headaches and your customers money by identifying specific issues like punctures or gaps in roofs.

Visit ABC Supply’s blog or talk to an ABC Supply representative to learn how technology and the ABC Connect program can help you do more business, better, by harnessing the power of technology.

Four Ways Technology Boosted My Business

We all know technology can benefit our businesses in many ways. The challenge is selecting the right technology from the hundreds of apps and programs out there.

One area I needed technology to help with was providing a more seamless and efficient way of ordering materials for different jobs. Luckily my tech selection process was made a little easier when I learned my building materials supplier had an online program that could connect with the software I was already using.

After talking with a sales representative, I was able to start working with the online program the very next week.

Here’s how it works:

  • I can take aerial measurements— within 98 percent accuracy—of a roof without getting up there to take manual measurements.
  • The software uses the roof measurements and my distributor’s real-time pricing and products to create a materials list.
  • I turn my materials list into an order I electronically submit to my distributor from anywhere.

After working with hundreds of orders since implementing this program in September 2015, I’ve experienced a 20 percent decrease in the time required to process orders for building materials and have seen more efficiency and accuracy in my projects.

Here’s how this technology helped my business:

Project Visualization

Prior to taking advantage of this program, I placed orders based on information from project hand sketches. This would often lead to time-consuming follow-ups with my team to get more details or confirm information. Now I can electronically enter aerial roof and wall measurements, review and update them if necessary, and create materials lists.

Having all our important information in an electronic tool is great! I no longer have to call my team to confirm handwritten information. This has resulted in my team being more efficient and reduced the number of ordering errors that come from misinterpreting information on a piece of paper.

It’s also helpful to have an electronic tool where I can look up all my orders and see when they were placed and what items were included.

Accessible Products

Having technology that integrates with my supplier gives me the ability to access real-time products and pricing during and outside of business hours. This flexibility is so important. One evening I needed cost information on a skylight and all I had to do was go to my account to get the price through the online program.

Manage Business 24/7

From creating estimates to submitting orders, one of my favorite features of this technology is that it gives me the option to access projects 24/7. This lets me place many of my orders after business hours or on weekends, freeing up my time during the day to focus on other projects. I also no longer need to scan or fax orders, and I can quickly locate order information, like date ordered or materials lists, if I need to.

Seamlessly Work With Business Contacts

My business specializes in storm damage and roof replacement, so my team often works with other parties, such as insurance companies. Not only does the software I use integrate with my supplier’s program, it’s also a tool used by some insurance adjusters to measure and quote roof repairs. Being able to use the same or a similar type of software with different groups of people makes my job easier by streamlining our process.

No matter what project we are working on, we have one goal: make the roof repair and replacement process easy for our customers. But that doesn’t mean things have to be harder for my team. And thanks to the technology we’ve incorporated into our workflow, it isn’t.

It can be tough (and often overwhelming) trying to figure out what technology will be the best fit for your business, especially when so many options claim to help with things like efficiency and accuracy. My advice for finding the best solutions for you? Talk to your team to identify areas you want to improve and then check with your distributor to see if it has any technology solutions for your business. The more you can simplify the steps you need to go through to place orders and get materials, the easier (and more accurate and more efficient) your job will be.

Brian Schaible relies on the ABC Connect program, which integrates with AccuLynx Quick Order and EagleView Construct, to streamline his business. To learn more about ABC Connect, read an “Online Exclusive” about it.

Technology Love-Hate

My husband is addicted to social media. Bart’s not posting; he’s just a voyeur, constantly ob- serving what others are doing and talking about. I don’t think he feels like he’s missing out on
anything. Instead, I think during quiet moments, Facebook and Snapchat help him fill the silence. Apparently, Bart is not the only one. We just celebrated the holidays with our families and, at one point on Christmas, I looked up and saw my father, my two brothers and my husband with their noses buried in their phones. Meanwhile, my two- and six-year-old nieces were squealing with glee over gifts they had opened. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the men in my family were enjoying their moment or someone else’s.

I know my family isn’t the only group of individuals addicted to social media, so this issue is packed full of selfie-worthy venues. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Banff, Alberta, Canada, the Moose Hotel & Suites, our “Cover Story” is Banff’s latest destination hotel. It was designed so visitors wouldn’t feel like they’re in any hotel room anywhere. Ted Darch, owner of Calgary, Alberta-based E.J. Darch Architect Ltd., designed the hotel to resemble a village with a courtyard in the middle. Visitors can experience the drama of the mountains surrounding Banff from nearly any vantage point within the hotel. (They’re already posting about it on TripAdvisor!) And when guests are outside, the hotel itself is photo-worthy with its bright red concrete tile roof. “Other roofing options were nice but they didn’t have the snap that the red tile does,” Darch said when he explained his choice to me. There are many more captivating hospitality and entertainment projects with beautiful, innovative roofs throughout the issue.

A colleague once told me he thought I was afraid of technology. Maybe that’s true when it comes to social media (I rarely personally Facebook or Tweet and all my Pinterest boards are “secret”), but I definitely embrace technology that makes life and work easier. In “On My Mind”, Brian Schaible, operations general manager at Indianapolis-based Hoosier Contractors LLC, explains new technology that provided a more efficient way for him to order materials for different jobs. His building materials supplier offered Schaible an online program that connects with the software he already was using. Learn about Schaible’s experience and then read our “Online Exclusive” that explains more about the program.

In every issue of Roofing, we provide interactive content. On page 8, we show you how to download a free app that will bring our magazine to life. In this issue, open the app with your smartphone or tablet over page 16 and watch the Washington, D.C.- based Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association’s short video about roof algae. In our digital edition, the video will automatically play when you land on page 16. Our Roofing team is pretty proud of this capability. We’d love to hear what you think!