Polyiso Roof Insulation R-value Update

An update to ASTM C1289, “Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation”, (ASTM C1289-13) features important improvements regarding the prediction of Long-Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) for a variety of polyiso insulation roof boards. Members of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) began reporting LTTR values in accordance with ASTM C1289-13 on Jan. 1, 2014.

ASTM C1289

ASTM C1289 was first published in 1998. The standard is a series of physical property tests, including the measure of an insulation’s LTTR, conducted to ensure a polyiso product’s performance meets a minimum standard. The standard is used to predict an insulation’s R-value equivalent to the average performance of a permeably faced foam insulation product during 15 years.

To provide a comprehensive approach to predicting long-term R-value throughout North America, the updated ASTM C1289-13 standard incorporates two test methods: ASTM C1303-11 and CAN/ULC-S770-09. Each of these methods offers a similar approach to predicting the long-term thermal performance for foam insulation materials that exhibit air and blowing-agent diffusion or aging across time.

ASTM C1303, “Standard Test Method for Estimating the Long-Term Change in the Thermal Resistance of Unfaced Closed Cell Plastic Foams by Slicing and Scaling Under Controlled Laboratory Conditions”, is, in part, the result of a research project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The project was co-funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, PIMA, NRCA and the Society of the Plastics Industry.

CAN/ULC S770 is the result of work in Canada. This method is also based on the same thin-slicing and accelerated aging concept as ASTM C1303 but it also accounts for the effect of permeable facings, or skins, on the LTTR of foam insulation in addition to a number of other factors. Considered to be a prescriptive way to perform ASTM C1303 (a more narrowly defined procedure within the bounds described in the ASTM standard), CAN/ULC S770 predicts what the foam’s R-value will be after a five-year aging period—the equivalent to a time-weighted thermal design R-value of 15 years.

Based on extensive research during the past five years, including bias and ruggedness testing, most researchers now agree ASTM C 1303 and CAN/ULC–S770 provide similar and consistent results predictive of actual aged performance.

LTTR and Polyiso

The polyiso industry uses the newly revised ASTM C1289-13 standard for determining the thermal insulation efficiency of permeably faced products. LTTR represents the most advanced scientific method to measure the long-term thermal resistance of foam insulation products using blowing agents.

The use of an LTTR value provides numerous advantages:

  • It provides a technically supported, more descriptive measure of the long-term thermal resistance of polyiso insulation.
  • The thin slices are taken from current production insulation samples. Prior methods used samples that were at least three-months old with some up to six-months old.
  • Determining an LTTR value is fairly rapid and, depending on a slice’s thickness, can produce an LTTR design value for 2-inch-thick polyiso insulation board in about 90 days.
  • A formula is used to determine the aging time period for a particular thickness of insulation, instead of using the same conditioning period for products of all thicknesses as was done in the past.
  • It applies to all foam insulation with blowing agents other than air and provides a better understanding of the thermal performance of foam.

PIMA QualityMark

The PIMA QualityMark certification program is a voluntary program that allows polyiso manufacturers to obtain independent, third-party certification for the LTTR values for ASTM C1289 Type II, Class 1 and Class 2 permeable-faced polyiso foam insulation produced with EPA-compliant blowing agents. Participating companies are required to include each of their manufacturing locations in the PIMA QualityMark certification program. Polyiso is the only insulation to be certified by this program for its LTTR value.

The PIMA QualityMark program began reporting LTTR values in accordance with ASTM C1289-13 on Jan. 1. 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.

FM Global, one of the world’s largest independent commercial and industrial property insurance and risk-management organizations, is the PIMA QualityMark certification administrator. Polyiso insulation samples are randomly chosen from each plant of a participating manufacturer in accordance with the program’s guidelines. An accredited testing laboratory then establishes and certifies to FM Global the 15-year LTTR value in accordance with ASTM C1289-13.

Reroofing Is One of the Few Opportunities to Improve the Built Environment

All of us get misled by catch-phrases, like “Save the Planet” or “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”. Although phrases like these are well intended, they can be misleading; they really are off topic. Something like “Save the Humans” is more to the point and truly the root of the entire sustainability movement. Let’s face it: The efforts to be more green are inherently aimed at a healthier you and me, as well as our children’s and grandchildren’s desire for continued healthful lives and opportunities.

The discussion about green and sustainability needs some context to make it real and effectual. The question to ask is: How does green construction help humans live a healthier and happier life? The answer is: It is because of the co-benefits of building (and living) in a more environmentally appropriate way.

One key component of building environmentally appropriate buildings is that, collectively, we use less energy. Less energy use means no need to build another power plant that creates electricity while spewing pollution into the air. Less pollution in the air means people are healthier. It also means the water and soil are less polluted. We drink that water and eat what grows in the ground. We also eat “stuff” from the rivers, lakes and oceans. Healthier people means reduced costs for health care. Reduced sickness means fewer sick days at the office, and fewer sick days means more productivity by employees. And, dare I say, happier employees are all because of the environmentally appropriate building, or a “human appropriate” building.

So what does all this have to do with roofs? Rooftops, because they are a significant percentage of the building envelope, should not be overlooked as an important and truly significant energy-efficiency measure. Building owners and facility managers should always include energy- efficiency components in their roof system designs. There are few opportunities to improve the building envelope; reroofing is one of those opportunities, and it shouldn’t be missed.

According to the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, Washington, D.C., and building envelope research firm Tegnos Inc., Carmel, Ind., roof systems have the potential to save 700-plus trillion Btus in annual energy use. Too many roofs are not insulated to current code-required levels. If our rooftops were better insulated, these energy-saving estimates would become reality. Imagine the co-benefits of such a significant reduction in energy use!

But how do we know we’re doing the right thing? RoofPoint and the RoofPoint Carbon Calculator will help. The RoofPoint Carbon Calculator uses seven inputs to compare an energy-efficient roof with a baseline roof: insulation, thermal performance, air barrier, roof surface, rooftop PV, solar thermal and roof daylighting. The outputs from the RoofPoint Carbon Calculator are total roof energy use, energy savings due to the energy- efficient roof design, energy savings during peak demand, and CO2 offset for the energy-efficient roof design. This can be used to compare an existing roof (the baseline roof) to a new roof design (the energy-efficient roof), and this will help verify the energy savings and reduction of carbon output. It’s an excellent tool for verifying how green a new roof can be.

Don’t just take my word on this co-benefits idea. The Economist recently published a blog about the EPA and rulings on interstate pollution. The article cited a claim that by 2014—if pollution rates were half of those in 2005—hundreds of thousands of asthma cases each year could be prevented and nearly 2 million work and school days lost to respiratory illness could be eliminated. And just think, improving your roof’s energy efficiency is key to the reduction of power-plant use and the pollution that comes from them. So, yes, a roof can help your kids and your grandkids be healthy and happy.

Impacts of Substance Abuse

Studies show an estimated 10 percent of U.S. employees have a chemical dependency, costing employers upwards of $100 billion each year. The most basic losses are attributed to the fact that, on average, an employee who partakes in substance abuse provides approximately two-thirds of the productivity of a sober employee.

Look at it this way: A worker’s salary is the price a business pays for the worker’s contribution to the company. If his or her salary is, for example, $60,000 per year but he or she is only contributing two-thirds of what the employer is paying because of the impacts of substance abuse, the company is looking at a loss of $20,000 each year for a single employee.

In addition, the on-the-job productivity losses don’t include extended behaviors. Other statistics show employees with substance-abuse issues:

  • Leave work early twice as often
  • Are absent from work twice as often and are tardy three times as often
  • File workers’ comp claims five times as often
  • Have an increased likelihood of being the root cause of workplace accidents
  • Have an increased likelihood of stealing or damaging company property

Employees with chemical dependencies also affect their coworkers. One in five employees has had to work harder, redo finished work or has been injured (or nearly injured) as a result of the behavior of a coworker who is under the influence.

Workplace substance abuse can have a stronger impact on small businesses that may not have the written policies or financial means to address accidents, injuries, and loss or damage of company property.

Spotting Substance Abuse

The signs of substance abuse range from vague to completely obvious and depend greatly on the degree to which an employee uses (from casually to compulsively). It is important supervisors are well-versed in recognizing signs so they can address the matter. Some signs to look for may include:

  • Perpetual tardiness or early departure
  • Unknown whereabouts in the middle of the day, doesn’t return after lunch
  • Constant complaints regarding health
  • Complaints from other employees regarding the abuser’s behavior
  • Irrational responses to constructive criticism, ranging from irritation to belligerence or aggression
  • Clear decrease in efficiency or a fluctuating level of performance
  • Repeated injuries on and off the worksite
  • Obvious financial problems (wage garnishment, loss of vehicle, borrowing money from coworkers)
  • Obvious alcohol or illegal drug odors

Keep in mind: Short of actually witnessing an employee drinking or using drugs at work, many of these signs could be attributed to problems that have nothing to do with substance abuse. Certain medications, for example, may present odors that are similar to that of alcohol. It’s vital to never use these signs to jump to conclusions because they’re merely a starting point from which to begin addressing a problem.

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Reinvention from Carolinas Roofing to Roofing

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that all of life is reinvention. Sometimes past and future can share the same time period. New just shows up sometimes. In show business it’s easy to understand. You can’t keep coming back with the same show. Unless you get offstage you can’t make another entrance.”

Lorne Michaels, a writer best known for producing Saturday Night Live, wrote this in Vanity Fair’s October issue, which celebrated its 100th year of publishing. Michaels knows a little something about reinvention; for 38 years, SNL has consistently been among the highest-rated late-night television programs. His words jumped out at me not only because they so appropriately explain SNL’s and Vanity Fair’s long and successful histories, but also because they are fitting for this the final issue of Carolinas Roofing.

In 2014, Carolinas Roofing will be reinventing itself as a national publication—Roofing—to remain relevant to the marketplace. Since our first issue mailed in March 2010, we’ve been approached several times to bring this magazine to a broader audience. We’ve been asked to start other regional roofing publications. A couple years ago, we seriously thought about expanding and re-branding Carolinas Roofing as an East Coast roofing magazine. Each time we crunched the numbers and discussed the ideas thoroughly but realized they didn’t make sense. This past summer, we were approached again but, this time, the idea was to make the magazine a national publication. This proposal finally made sense for every aspect of our small business and met our ultimate goal of educating the roofing industry.

In addition to a new name and a broader circulation that will include roofing contractors, architects, roof consultants, building owners and facility managers, Roofing will offer more opportunities for us to keep in touch with you, the reader. We’ll be launching a dynamic website, www.roofingmagazine.com, in January that constantly will be updated with news and product information, as well as a monthly e-newsletter to keep you informed between issues of the magazine, which will continue to mail on a bimonthly schedule.

We plan to remain true to our regional roots by offering a “Regional Report” each issue that will examine climatic challenges related to roofing in various parts of the country, including the Carolinas. And we have lots of other innovative ideas to maintain your loyal readership. We hope you opt to continue receiving the magazine. Please fill out the subscription card for Roofing and scan and email it to Publisher Barrett Hahn at barrett@roofingmagazine.com or mail it to 4711 Hope Valley Road, Box 202, Durham, NC 27707. (Subscriptions will not be duplicated.)

All of us at Carolinas Roofing would like to thank you for the past four years. We credit your engagement with the magazine for its success and, ultimately, taking us to the next level. We hope to see you when the curtain opens for our second act.

Green-building Innovation Is Important, But So Is Refinement

In March 2006, I swore allegiance to the wildly popular green-building movement. I even put the kibosh on my favorite joke about recycling in the landfill—you know, so not to deprive future generations of fossil fuels and diamonds. Nice.

I’ve worked in facility management at Duke University Health System for 26 years. In this profession, being overly pragmatic is an occupational hazard. So, why did an “old-school” guy (no pun intended) show up at a green love fest alongside folk with funny-colored hair and way too many bumper stickers? Quite simply, I came to the party to plea for intellectual honesty.

Unfortunately, early on, the sustainability movement offered myriad earth-friendly materials often with little thought to their durability or life cycle. Similarly, early building rating programs focused largely on the merits of individual products without factoring their proper integration into functional systems or assemblies. Consider, for example, the many thousands of squares of reflective “cool roofing” membranes applied over non-durable assemblies. A LEED-applicable roofing membrane that fails prematurely because of inferior quality or misapplication does not look very sustainable buried in a landfill.

It’s no longer 2006, and the greenie you’re partying with may be a blue-haired, retired architect. It’s encouraging so many in the building industry, and particularly the roofing industry, have embraced the concept of durability as the essence of green and sustainable building design. Moving beyond mere branding “strategery,” sustainability can be good for the bottom line. On the Duke campus, a 2007 roof replacement used forward-thinking design to divert 718 tons of solid waste. Salvaged materials from this effort included 296,000 board feet of XPS insulation, which was repurposed in new roofing construction on three Duke buildings. It’s our story. And it’s simply good business.

It has been said “architecture is storytelling.” The story of our 2007 roof replacement project settled forever how Duke University Health System will conduct itself in regard to sustainable roofing design and environmental stewardship. We distilled our story into the following “Guiding Principles of Sustainable Roofing”:

  • 1. Favor insulations or insulating assemblies that are highly resistant to water and physical damage.
  • 2. Favor roof assemblies that position the roof membrane directly over a permanent or semi-permanent substrate.
  • 3. Favor roof designs that prohibit or highly discourage the entrapment of water within the roof assembly.
  • 4. Favor membrane and insulation designs capable of in-place reuse or recycle in future roof iterations.

Through the years, these guiding principles have produced a dramatic improvement in roofing performance on our campus. In particular, our emphasis on adaptive reuse of materials will minimize our impact on the environment, as well as reduce future demand on hospital resources–resources best used in support of outstanding patient care or cancer research, not funding a premature roof replacement. Interestingly, the U.S. General Services Administration, Washington, D.C., has recently incorporated our guiding principles in facilities standards for future public building construction. Now our story has legs.

In April 2013, I attended the Energy Efficient Roofing Conference in Charlotte. I was invited to participate in the program, offering a building owner’s perspective about emerging roofing technologies. The focus, primarily, was energy-efficient roofing as a value proposition: how to achieve it and how to sell it. The format leaned heavily on panel discussions, which produced large amounts of banter and at times outright tension regarding the subjects at hand. It was as if someone handed a microphone to the elephant in the room. Has the proposition become a “solution” in search of a “problem”?

Don’t misunderstand; everyone can see the benefits in much (but not all) of the new energy-efficient roofing innovations and building codes. But should we be excited about reflective or solar membranes on massively thick R-30 minimum insulation while still far too many roof installations will fail prematurely because of shortsighted design and construction? If quality and durability are of utmost value, do you—the roofing contractor— know how to achieve it and how to sell it? Should you care?

Back in 2006, I believed everyone was trying to “out green” each other; durability be damned. Today, I wonder if the problem is that everyone wants to “out innovate” each other. As we’ve witnessed with green, the danger when innovation means everything is that it can soon mean nothing.

Innovation is exciting and necessary, but so is refinement. Refinement may be the most powerful strategy of all, yet it remains under emphasized. The most effective way to celebrate refinement is by creating new stories–new institutional memories. Roofing contractor, you are the biographer. Run with that.

OSHA’s Pending IIPP Standard

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration is directing its efforts toward enforcing a standard in which employers nationwide will be required to establish a thorough, written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels calls the IIPP the organization’s highest priority and said it could go into effect in the next one to two years. Its goal is to reduce injuries and the associated costs to business. In fact, California, which implemented the requirement in 1991, has experienced overwhelmingly positive results from it.

What’s Involved

IIPPs aren’t a new idea; most companies already have a program in place designed to reduce or eliminate worksite health and safety hazards. OSHA’s standard, however, will make it a requirement and will set guidelines for what must be included in the program. OSHA is accepting input during the drafting phase but has officially stated the following will be required IIPP inclusions:

Hazard Identification/Assessment: A written process by which hazards will be identified. This will include investigating incidents, inspecting the workplace for hazards, and identifying new hazards created by worksite changes or emergencies.

Hazard Prevention/Control: Control methods by which hazards will be isolated or eliminated. This portion of the IIPP also will require documentation of the control methods and their determined effectiveness.

Management: This will cover a company’s chain of command, including managerial duties, resource distribution and allocation, and the proper network for employee communication.

Education and Training: Training requirements, such as specific hazard training, control methods and timetables, will be required. In addition, incidents would dictate the need for residual or refresher training.

Employee Involvement: This will ensure employees participate in creating and maintaining the IIPP. It provides employees with access to important safety information and sets guidelines for employee involvement in risk assessments and incident investigations.

Program Evaluation and Improvement: Employer IIPPs will need to be considered a living document, constantly being evaluated and updated. These evaluations will include performance monitoring and using incident investigations to identify and correct program deficiencies.

Why?

OSHA’s goal in making its IIPP standard a federal requirement is to encourage employers to implement clear directives for reducing health and safety hazards in the workplace. By mitigating hazards and reducing safety incidents in this way, employers should expect to see an overall improvement in workplace health conditions.

The standard will also allow OSHA to look more deeply at an employer’s systems and efforts to reduce workplace hazards. By making safety at work more transparent, OSHA will be able to get more involved in evaluation and risk reduction.

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Connect to and Motivate Your Staff

A friend of mine recently lost his job because of budget cuts. He was employed at a satellite office and not a single manager who made the decision about his livelihood took the time to commute to the satellite location to share the news. Instead, he was called to a conference room where human resources personnel laid him off via speakerphone. My friend was not surprised he was let go, nor was he surprised by how it was done, considering how disconnected he believes the “worker bees” at his former corporation are from management. He had been disgruntled by the lack of communication and management’s questionable decision-making for some time.

I can attest that managing people is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in any line of work. Being a leader requires a thick skin, excellent communication skills and the ability to make tough decisions, among other talents. However, at a time when budgets are tightened and everyone is doing less with more, becoming too consumed in your own tasks and disconnecting from employees is a fatal mistake. Now is the time to embrace your team, make them feel appreciated, motivate them to take on new roles, and identify and reward their strengths. Employees who feel disconnected from what is occurring within a business will feel unappreciated and will not perform at their best. In addition, without employee buy-in, it will be difficult to enforce new programs and procedures within a company.

In this issue, we feature articles about two safety programs you should seriously consider implementing within your roofing business not only to protect your employees, but also to protect your business as a whole. For example, “Business Sense,” addresses distracted driving. I think you’ll be surprised by the broad interpretation of the law in some of the court cases mentioned within the article: Your roofing business could be liable if a worker has an accident while using a mobile device in his personal vehicle or sightseeing on a business trip. According to the author, state and federal mobile-device laws are not enough; developing and enforcing a reasonable mobile-device safety program is a major step toward minimizing your business’ liability.

In “Safety,” Michael Rich explains the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s priority to require all businesses to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program probably within the next two years. California employers already have been operating under this requirement since 1991, providing a model you can duplicate within your business before the requirement is mandated across the country.

Establishing these programs within your business offers a wonderful opportunity to connect to and motivate your staff. You can create teams of volunteers to explore and create policies. When the teams meet, buy them lunch. When your staff goes six months without a distracted driving incident or an injury, celebrate with awards or a party. Take the time to show your employees you appreciate their efforts not only to make your business safer, but also to successfully execute their daily tasks.

In addition, consider setting aside some time on a regular basis specifically to reconnect with the “worker bees”. Join a roofing crew for a week, or answer phones in the front office. Your efforts will establish a new level of trust with your employees and, ultimately, create a better workplace. Perhaps most importantly, your staff will feel as though operational changes, like the safety programs mentioned in this issue, are happening “with” them rather than “to” them.