Environmental Product Declarations Are a Driving Force for Change

Agropur Cooperative’s new Canada Green Building Council certified and LEED accredited two-story office building in Longueuil, Quebec, has polyiso insulation on the roof. Photo: SOPREMA

With a worldwide population that continues to grow (estimated at more than nine billion by 2050), demand for natural resources is increasing at rates that threaten to stress sustainable supply. Over the last few decades, society has become increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of human activity. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the built environment accounts for 41 percent of our national energy consumption and nearly as much of our greenhouse gas emissions. With an eye toward conserving resources and mitigating climate change and its effects, the building industry is on the front lines of the effort to achieve sustainability goals and create buildings that not only drop jaws, but also lower carbon footprints.

Polyiso roof and wall insulation offers high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, and outstanding fire performance. In this photo, polyiso roof insulation is being installed on a flat roof. Photo: Hunter Panels

Sustainability is not a one-time event, but a process that encompasses the whole life cycle of a building. To effectively ensure that resource conservation spans that whole cycle requires transparency and coordination between stakeholders starting at the beginning of the design process to assess choices based on economy, durability, utility, and sustainability. Architects and specifiers need to have a complete picture of the merits of any product that might go into a building so they can make informed decisions that include impacts from a product’s manufacturing process to its long-term applied performance.

In the United States, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council have emerged as an important benchmark for rating individual building components, processes, and systems. They are designed to:

  • Promote the efficient use of energy, water, and other resources.
  • Protect occupant health and improve productivity.
  • Reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation.
  • Improve resiliency in the face of extreme conditions.
The new Big Ten Headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois, utilizes polyiso wall insulation. Photo: Hunter Panels

Other notable programs across the globe and throughout North America, including the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Green Globes, US Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, GreenStar, and the Living Building Challenge, employ standards that are used in concert with LEED ratings to boost performance and promote a conscious approach to resource use in building construction, operation, and maintenance.

Many manufacturers are publishing rigorous, third-party verified evaluations of the whole life cycle impacts of their products to increase transparency and allow easier comparison of alternatives. These Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are similar to a “nutrition label” for building products and include information on sourcing, production, and performance of the products in a standardized and independently verified format that is recognized globally and based on International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. This consistent and scientific method to measuring and reporting information makes it possible to consider a product’s comprehensive impact and allows to base specification choices on measurable projections.

Earlier versions of LEED allowed manufactures to make claims about a product’s sustainability in one area without disclosing deficits in another area. This led to a healthy skepticism from clients and consumers about advertised merits and prompted a move toward greater transparency and verifiability. In its most recent revision, the LEED v4 standard asks manufacturers to provide more detailed information on a material’s content and its comprehensive environmental impact before their individual products can claim sustainability designations.

Basis for Evaluation

For an EPD to have a scientific basis, the impacts need to be clearly defined and linked to important environmental concerns. To help define these impacts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed TRACI, the Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts. TRACI methodology identifies a number of important factors related to critical environmental impacts:

  • Global Warming Potential (GWP)—linked to global climate change.
  • Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)—related to the (now closing) hole in the earth’s ozone layer caused by certain chemicals.
  • Smog Creation Potential—linked to car exhausts, power plant emissions and fumes from products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Acidification Potential—linked to acid rain caused by certain smokestack emissions.
  • Eutrophication Potential—linked to excessive amounts of nitrogen in rivers and lakes causing algae blooms that consume vital oxygen in the water.

Common Standards for Comparison

The EPD process is based on a framework to ensure that these practices are conducted in a consistent and reliable manner anywhere in the world. It includes the following key steps:

  • Product Category Rule – products with similar functions are assessed in the same way using comparable measures.
  • Life Cycle Assessment – products are evaluated based on inputs in the form of resources and energy, and outputs in the form of emissions and waste for their life cycle either from “cradle-to-gate” (from raw material extraction until it reaches the “gate” of the manufacturing facility) or the more rigorous “cradle-to-grave” (goes beyond the gate to include transportation, product manufacturing, use phase and the product’s end of life).
  • EPD generation – information from this assessment is organized into the standardized format for publication, including a life cycle diagram, illustration of product components, and a summary of impacts.
  • Third-party validation – outside experts verify and evaluate the report and the research that underlies it.

The widespread adoption of EPDs is fostering change in the building products industry leading to even more ambitious sustainability goals. As a growing body of EPDs are published, they contribute to a reliable catalog of data available as a reference point to help identify markets for new products and potential areas for improvement. Manufacturers can easily evaluate which steps in their products sourcing and production could be optimized for sustainability. Comparative information can serve as motivation for product innovation, leading to better options and better outcomes for the whole industry.

About the author: Marcin Pazera, Ph.D., is the Technical Director for Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). He coordinates all technical-related activities at PIMA and serves as the primary technical liaison to organizations involved in the development of building standards. For more information, visit www.polyiso.org.

EPDs Confirm the Benefits of Polyiso

Photo: Johns Manville

EPDs from the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) report the results of an exacting “cradle-to-grave” Life Cycle Assessment showing the merits of polyiso insulation for wall and roof applications. The findings include:

  • The energy savings potential of polyiso roof and wall insulation over a typical 60-year building life span is equal to up to 47 times the initial energy required to produce, transport, install, maintain, and eventually remove and dispose of the insulation.
  • Polyiso has a high return on embodied energy.
  • Polyiso roof and wall insulation offers high unit R-value per inch, zero ozone depletion potential, recycled content, opportunity for reuse, and outstanding fire performance.
Photo: Johns Manville

Evaluation for the third-party assessment was done by PE International and includes a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment that covers every step in the process of creating and using polyiso products. Looking at everything from resourcing, production, transport, installation, maintenance, to eventual removal and replacement, the EPD measures impacts across a broad spectrum, including everything from how products might contribute to global warming, smog production, and ozone depletion to the energy and water use and waste disposal required at the end of its life.

Primary data from six PIMA manufacturer members was used for the underlying life cycle assessment and the EPD represents the combined weighted average production for these members.

What Is Polyiso?

Polyiso is a closed-cell, rigid foam board insulation consisting of a foam core sandwiched between two facers. In wall applications its facers, which are usually made of kraft paper-backed foil, are adhered to both sides of the foam before it is cut into sheets and packaged for shipment and the boards function both as continuous insulation—creating a thermal barrier that isn’t interrupted at every stud—and as an environmental envelope to protect the building from water, air, and heat infiltration. It is typically attached outside the wall framing and covered by an exterior finish.

It is the most widely used insulating material for above-deck commercial roof construction in North America. The boards are installed in one or more layers, depending on the insulation needs, on the steel, wood, or concrete roof deck structure and then covered with the roofing membrane.

EPD Polyiso Findings

  • High thermal efficiency. Because it is one of the most thermally efficient building insulations available in today’s marketplace, Polyiso requires less total thickness to deliver specified R-value in roof and wall assemblies, reducing overall construction costs and increasing usable building space.
  • High net return on embodied energy. A recent study comparing initial embodied energy to long-term energy savings achieved over 60 years in a typical commercial building suggests that the net energy savings potential of Polyiso wall insulation ranges between 20 and 47 times the initial embodied energy required to produce, transport, and install the Polyiso insulation.
  • Zero ozone depletion potential. All PIMA Polyiso manufacturer members produce rigid foam board with third-generation, zero ozone-depleting blowing agents. The blowing agent (pentane) used in Polyiso also is among the lowest in Global Warming Potential.
  • Recycled content. Polyiso insulation typically is manufactured using recycled material. The percentage of the recycled material by weight depends on the individual manufacturer, the thickness of the product, and the type of facer.
  • Opportunity for reuse. Although this declaration assumes the Polyiso wall insulation boards will be landfilled at the end of the wall assembly service life, it is possible to salvage and reuse the boards, either at the original site or on another construction site. Used Polyiso wall insulation may be collected and resold by several national logistics firms.

PIMA is currently updating its EPDs for polyiso wall and roof insulations, which will be available in Q1 of 2020.

Fluid-Applied Membranes and Roof Restoration Methods

Cold-process fluid-applied systems combine the elastic properties of rubber polymers with the waterproofing characteristics of a highly refined emulsified asphalt. The result is a monolithic, seamless rubber membrane. Photos: Paragon Roofing Technology

Fluid-applied membrane systems have been available on the U.S. commercial waterproofing market for many years. Originally, the systems most frequently applied were hot-applied emulsions with or without reinforcements. In the early 2000s, a liquid rubber membrane system was developed that could be applied in cold-process fluid-applied applications. The liquid rubber material combines the elastic properties of rubber polymers with the weatherproof/waterproof characteristics of a highly refined emulsified asphalt. The resulting formulations are proprietary materials that, when properly applied, adhere to form a monolithic rubber membrane. The resulting membrane can be applied to range from 20 mils to 200 mils dry.

Unlike coatings that only provide a film surface or adhesives that require reinforcements for waterproofing capacity, the liquid rubber forms a seamless membrane that provides instant  waterproofing/weatherproofing capabilities. The material cures within seconds to 80 percent of its full strength with full cure within 12 hours of application. The liquid rubber membrane is manufactured at the point of application through its dual component formulation; the system consists of a spray grade and a catalyst that are mixed together at the moment of application through specially designed spray rig equipment. The chemical reaction between the spray grade and the catalyst results in an instant, seamless rubber membrane. The instant set allows the seamless membrane to be in direct contact with water immediately. This feature also allows for the material to be applied either horizontally or vertically up to 200 mils thick in one application. Although the membrane still requires time to fully cure, it is approximately 80 percent cured when the two materials come into contact. This is a unique feature of the material, and it requires specialized equipment and training to be applied correctly.

Advantages of Liquid Rubber Membranes

The dual component formulation consists of a spray grade and a catalyst that are mixed together at the moment of application using specially designed spray equipment. Products are also available in one-part emulsions for application with brushes and rollers.

Liquid rubber membranes combine the properties of adhesives and coatings while adding significant technological advancements that create an instant-setting waterproofing/weatherproofing membrane. It is the 21st century version of a built-up roof (BUR) system that has the performance characteristics of modified bitumen and—because it is a monolithic, seamless membrane—it provides a longer service life with less maintenance than other options. Liquid rubber membranes provide economical solutions to almost all roofing and waterproofing/weatherproofing applications and offer excellent performance characteristics.

The primary advantages of the material are as follows:

· Superior elongation and recovery. Structures move. Surfaces expand. Seasonal temperature changes alter the size and shape of every object. Liquid rubber membranes have the capacity to stretch and recover, which allows for movement of the underlying surface. The average elongation is over 1,000 percent, and the material recovers to 90 percent of its original state after elongation.

· Excellent adhesion. Liquid rubber bonds to most substrates and forms a permanent bond with itself, resulting in self-healing and self-sealing properties. The liquid rubber membrane provides excellent adhesion to metal, wood, plastic, and concrete — even green concrete. It also provides strong adhesion to existing construction materials like BUR, modified bitumen, thermosets and thermoplastic membranes, and all waterproofing materials. In most cases, no primer or tack coat is required.

· Sustainable and environmentally responsible. The materials contain no VOCs and satisfy EPA regulations and environmental concerns. No special ventilation is required, as the material is non-toxic, odorless, and non-flammable.

· Safe applications. Products are available that can be applied with trowels or squeegees as well as a specially designed dual-component spray rig. No heat, kettles, torches or open flames are required in the application process. The material is safe to apply and poses no health risks to the applicators.

Another advantage of the liquid-applied system is that the material is self-leveling. This allows the membrane to conform to substrate irregularities and provide a continuous seal at penetrations, which are typically the most difficult details in roofing applications.

Another primary advantage of the liquid rubber membrane system is that the material is self-leveling. This allows the membrane to conform to substrate irregularities and provide a continuous seal at penetrations, which are typically the most difficult details in roofing applications. The instant, full adhesion of the membrane allows for continuous system application without additional components that would be required with other membrane applications. This eliminates the chances of deformation from the breakdown of different material system components. It also eliminates some of the application errors associated with multi-component systems.

Deformations of one of the materials in the multi-component system can lead to failure of the total system. Examples of typical defects in roofing systems include loss of attachment from improper adhesive application at substrate, insulation or membrane; improperly aligned insulation; loss of attachment of insulation due to substrate irregularities; voids in membrane attachment that lead to blisters and/or ridges; and slumping or buckling flashing due to improper attachment. The improper attachment of one component leads to differential movement in the system.

Liquid-applied systems form a monolithic membrane, eliminating the most vulnerable point of rolled membranes for moisture infiltration: the seams. The superior adhesion characteristics to all types of substrates and materials also eliminates the chances of moisture infiltration under the membrane.

While overspray is minimized in liquid rubber membrane applications, precautions should still be set at perimeter building locations and application should not be attempted in high winds.

The elongation and flexibility of liquid rubber membrane exceeds industry standards. This allows it to withstand typical thermal cycling and perform well in extreme heat and cold. Application temperatures are wider than most other adhesives and coatings, and range from ambient outside temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit to over 100 degrees. The membrane is naturally UV resistant and can be exposed throughout the lifetime of the membrane. The membrane is compatible with all types of reflective coatings if application is required. Granule surfacing can also be applied.

The membrane is also very durable. Depending on applied dry mil thickness, the membrane can withstand heavy force and is puncture resistant with self-healing and self-sealing properties.

The membrane can be applied over damp surfaces and it can be exposed to ponded water in unlimited duration. The material has been used as pond liners and in containment tanks since its introduction to the market. The water absorption rate is less than 1 percent—well below ASTM’s minimum water absorption rate of waterproofing materials, which is 5 percent.

Benefits for Applicators

There are significant benefits to applicators of liquid rubber membranes. The foremost benefit is the reduced crew size required for application. This is an important consideration due to the severe labor shortages affecting the construction industry.

In most cases, a crew of three properly trained and experienced applicators using one spray rig can complete up to 10,000 square feet in one day. Additional hoses and/or spray rigs can double or triple those production rates.

In addition to the advancements in material technology, there are vast improvements to the specialized equipment used in the application process. The spray equipment is now portable and can be transported to construction sites without heavy trucks and covered trailers. The spray equipment is also lightweight and can be easily positioned on roof areas or waterproofing trenches. This equipment is housed on four-wheel carts for easy transport throughout the construction site.

The spray equipment consists of a high-volume, low-pressure system. The dual component equipment mixes the two components outside the gun to form a monolithic membrane upon impact with the substrate.

The equipment has a direct drive system to eliminate downtime associated with traditional belt drive systems. The application rate averages up to 1,000 square feet an hour for one gun. The equipment can run two guns at the same time, which increases production to 2,000 square-feet per hour. It can run up to 600 feet of hose and the material can be contained in everything from a 5-gallon pail to a 275-gallon tote. The most common container is a 55-gallon drum.

The spray guns have also improved. Advancements in manufacturing have eliminated most of the clogging issues that plagued spray guns in the past. The spray guns are lightweight and can be disassembled rapidly if material clogs occur. The older spray guns took up to an hour to take apart in the event of material clogs.

Overspray—a common problem with most spray applications—is minimized in liquid rubber membrane applications because it is a low-pressure application and the material cures instantly after release from the spray gun. Precautions, such as coverboards, should still be set at perimeter building locations and application should not be attempted in accelerated wind conditions, but the chances of excessive overspray are minimal.

Liquid Membranes and Roof Restoration

Because of their waterproofing/weatherproofing capacity, instant cure set, adhesion success with most substrates and materials, wide range of application temperatures and membrane mil thickness that can range from 20 mils to 200 mils dry, liquid rubber membranes can perform in most building exterior applications, including new and remedial roofing applications. At this time, the systems are being used primarily as roof restoration and repair products.

Typical roof restoration projects include applications over built-up roof systems (asphalt and coal-tar), thermoplastics, EPDM, sprayed polyurethane foam, metal and tile. The liquid rubber membrane systems were designed to significantly extend the service life of the existing roof system. They are also excellent for repairing flashings and penetrations. The spray equipment is small and mobile and most repairs can be completed with minimal manpower.

When it is applied by knowledgeable installers, the system is an excellent economical choice for building owners. The initial step in the restoration process is the proper repair of the existing roof system and preparation of the surfaces. All surfaces should be free from any loose dust, debris, oil, grease or foreign material. These items should be removed prior to application by means recommended by the manufacturer. The liquid rubber membrane can be applied over damp surfaces; however, extensive ponding water should be removed prior to application.

Proper roof repairs should be completed in compliance with roofing industry standards. The one-part emulsion can be used for repairs to the existing membrane. Reinforcements should be added as required. All cracks, penetrations, existing seams, corners should be addressed using polyester fabric with roller/brush or trowel grade.

Once proper repairs and preparation are completed, the liquid applied membrane can be applied to the existing roof surface. For most roof membranes and substrates, a light rinse/power wash of the surface is all that is required. A primer is required over existing EPDM membranes.

The other exception is on aggregate surfaced built-up roof systems, which require additional preparation. Removal of all loose aggregate is required. On asphalt-based BUR, the liquid applied membrane can be applied directly over the prepared surface. For coal-tar based BUR, a manufacturer-approved fabric is required due to the gassing of the coal tar. The reinforcement should be set in a 20-mil wet profile of one-part liquid rubber. The reinforcement shall be set in a full and even application so that it is fully adhered with no wrinkles, buckles or blisters. The liquid rubber membrane is then set over the reinforcement. For best application practices, the reinforcement should be set in place with a soft-bristle broom.

The application of moisture relief vents is also required on BUR systems to prevent gassing of bitumen, which could contribute to blisters. Typical applications require one vent for every 1,000 square feet. Additional vents may be used in areas with existing moisture in the system.

Once the preparation and proper repairs have been completed, the liquid rubber membrane can be applied. Application can be completed with brush, roller or trowel in smaller application areas. Spray grade material shall be applied using specialized equipment. Apply material in a full and even application. Always apply it in strict accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and approved submittals.

Stir materials during application in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to avoid product separation. Applicators should spray the fluid component as a continuous, monolithic and seamless membrane of uniform thickness, beginning at the lowest point and terminating at the highest point. In the event the membrane is applied too thin, contact the manufacturer for recoating guidelines. Prior to application, create a grid across the roof with spray paint, allocating one drum of material per section of the grid. Perform cut-outs to check mil thickness and retain samples. Typically, three test cuts are to be taken per 1,000 square feet. In addition, continuously check wet millage by using the “T” post on a caliper mil gauge. After the liquid rubber membrane has cured, apply trowel adhesive to any visible voids. Comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper membrane terminations.

For horizontal applications, apply the two-part liquid rubber membrane in a single, monolithic coat to minimum 80 mils wet/60 mil dry. Repair damaged installation in accordance with manufacturer’s requirements. The spray application requires a 90-degree spray angle (a golf putting motion) with the spray tip within two feet of the surface. Wider spray angles will decrease mil thickness and can cause uneven application.

Ultraviolet stabilizers are added into the material formulation so the completed liquid applied membrane does not require additional surfacing for UV protection for short term (less than ten years) exposure. Long-term exposure (and warranties) require that some sort of surfacing is applied for additional reflectivity or protection. A variety of surfacing materials, including coatings, granules, pavers and living roof applications can be applied.

Liquid-applied membranes are typically eligible for warranties from 10 to 25 years. Contact the manufacturer for warranty requirements.

About the author: John A. D’Annunzio is the owner of Paragon Roofing Technology, headquartered in Troy, Michigan. He has been involved in testing, evaluating, and designing roofing and waterproofing materials and systems for more than 30 years. For more information, visit www.paragonroofingtech.com.

Business Succession Planning Tips for Roofers

Business succession isn’t as simple as choosing someone who will run your roofing company after you decide to hang your contracting hat up — or an unfortunate event cuts your time as the owner of your business short. Business succession requires you to put into place a plan that will ensure the success of your company after you’ve moved on. Business succession planning is time consuming, complicated, and dependent upon your business’ structure. It is therefore wise to begin thinking of what you want to do with your business long before you will need your plan.

One of the more obvious questions that need to be answered in business succession planning in the roofing industry is who will be the successor. Do you plan on training an employee to take over the company? Is it best to keep the company in the family and to name a family member as the successor? Are there multiple owners and succession will remain within the company? The answer to this question will vary from roofing company to roofing company. For some companies, they may already have a family member who is an employee, making the decision relatively simple. Some newer companies may not have the option to appoint a family member as a successor because the family member is too young or not willing.

Business succession planning is complex, but it can still be broken down into manageable segments to help owners better understand the process. Some of the common components of business succession planning include: buy-sell agreements; gifting; merger and acquisition transactions (M&A); employee stock option plans; key-man life insurance; and management buyouts. A basic understanding of these components will give roofing contractors a good place to begin their business succession planning.

Buy-Sell Agreements

Buy-sell agreements are especially useful in a multi-partner business to ensure there is an agreed upon plan in the event a partner dies or there is a dispute. Also known as buyout agreements, these types of agreements have control over when someone can sell their interest in a business, who can buy that interest, and the amount which is paid for said interest. What triggers a buy-sell agreement varies, but typically an event such as retirement, bankruptcy, disability, or death will be the triggering event that creates an automatic offer to the current owners of the company to buyout the departing members’ interest in the company.

A good example of a buy-sell agreement is the cross-purchase agreement where owners typically purchase insurance policies on one another. Different triggering events (death, incapacitation, age, or something similar) cause the Agreement to go into effect. In a hypothetical cross-purchase agreement arrangement, Owner B, who owns 30 percent of the business, would carry insurance equal to 70 percent of the business value. This allows the remaining partners to continue business as usual without the need to fill the vacant position within the company’s ownership.

Gifting (Family Succession)

Before the recent tax overhaul, if your estate was above the $5.6 million ($11.2 million for couples) estate and gift tax exclusion, then gifting was an incredibly powerful tool. However, in 2018 the IRS announced that the 2018 federal estate and gift tax limit has been elevated to $11,180,000 for individuals and $22,360,000 for couples, which makes gifting helpful for a smaller subset of business owners. It should be noted that there are some 15 states that impose estate taxes at a lower level than the federal government, and a prudent business owner should consult a professional to see if his or her state enforces their taxes in such a manner.

Depending upon the vehicle chosen and size of your company, taxes will vary from unaffordable to little or nothing. If family succession is the vehicle chosen, states have varying amounts of money which can be gifted without being subject to a gift tax. Certain trusts also allow you as a business owner to transfer in the neighborhood of $10 million without being subject to a gift tax. The amount of taxes due when succession takes place will depend on you and your company’s finances and your state’s tax laws.

Merger and Acquisition Transaction

A merger or acquisition transaction with a competitor or company or individual is another method of maximizing the value of your company and retirement as you look to transition away from your business. Oftentimes you won’t know if the person that you are handing control of the roofing company over to is going to maximize the value of the company once you leave or if they’re going to run the business into the ground and leave your former employees out of a job in the process. By merging with or selling to a larger, proven roofing company with similar culture to your current business, an owner can assure that his or her business will continue to thrive, albeit with a different name, and continue to serve both employees and clients suitably.

Some professional business owners often encounter issues that force them to make the tough decision to sell his or her roofing company and decide that the time has come to pursue other ventures. A sale would allow him or her the freedom (and cash) to pursue other business opportunities, and if he or she so chooses, he or she could still retain a minority ownership in the business so that if the business measures fail, he or she still has a profitable asset in the form of his or her minority position.

Employee Stock Option Plans

An employee stock option plan is also an excellent method for monetizing your business outside of its traditional cash flow and often gives you time to transition out of the business over the course of several years. An employee stock option plan, also known as an ESOP, is a tool that business owners can create to incentivize current employees, all while planning for a smooth transition once the owner exits the business. In its most basic form, an owner seeking to transition out of his ownership role sells the company to a trust (the ESOP), designating key employees (hard-working managers, promising family members, etc.) as beneficiaries, and receives full payment for the business as a loan from a lender (who now controls the ESOP). Over time, the company can make tax-deductible payments to the principal on the loan, which slowly releases equity control from the ESOP to the employees who are listed as beneficiaries.

Management Buyout

A management buyout occurs when the management group of a business purchases the roofing company directly from the owner or parent company. The management group typically acquires a loan for the full value of the company, which compensates the transitioning owner for full value of the company without having to liquidate the company’s assets. The typical management buyout scenario occurs when an owner is ready to transition control to a group of committed managers, but also wants to ensure that he or she can provide for a spouse or child upon sale of the company. These acquisitions are particularly intriguing for many business owners, as they can be assured that those taking over the company have knowledge of the business and share the departing owner’s vision.

Key-Man Life Insurance

Finally, company paid key-man life insurance can be a good tool to ensure that the company can afford to redeem your share of the company upon your death. This provides cash to your heirs while helping you sleep better at night. Key man life insurance operates in a similar fashion to your run-of-the-mill life insurance policies. The company takes out a life insurance policy on a key member of the business (often an owner) and names itself as the beneficiary. The company pays the premiums on the policy, and when the owner dies, the company receives the applicable monetary disbursement. In a succession-planning context, you often see key-man life insurance policies utilized in situations where an owner is quickly aging or in poor health and wants to ensure that his family is financially stable upon his or her death, but does not necessarily want his family to take control of the company’s operations upon the owner’s death. When packaged with a management buyout, key man life insurance gives the owner the ability to do just that. It ensures a smooth transfer of control to a group of trusted employees and guaranteed compensation for the family upon the owner’s death.

As it should now be clear, business succession is necessary, time consuming, and requires a number of difficult questions to be made. If you do not have a business succession plan in effect, or you’ve come to the realization that your business succession plan isn’t as reliable as you believed, the time is now to start planning for the future of your roofing company.

About the Author: David Kronenfeld is an attorney at Cotney Construction Law who focuses his practice on a broad range of transactional matters. Cotney Construction Law is an advocate for the roofing industry and serves as General Counsel for FRSA, RT3, NWIR, TARC, TRI, WSRCA and several other industry associations. For more information, visit 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. Regulations and laws may vary depending on your location. Consult with a licensed attorney in your area if you wish to obtain legal advice and/or counsel for a particular legal issue.

Designing Thermally Efficient Roof Systems

Photo 1. Designing and installing thermal insulation in two layers with offset and staggered joints prevents vertical heat loss through the insulation butt joints. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

“Energy efficiency,” “energy conservation,” and “reduction of energy use” are terms that are often used interchangeably, but do they mean the same thing? Let’s look at some definitions courtesy of Messrs. Merriam and Webster, along with my interpretation and comment:

· Energy efficiency: Preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource. (Funny thing, though — when you type in “energy efficiency” in search engines, you sometimes get the definition for “energy conservation.”

· Energy conservation: The total energy of an isolated system remains constant irrespective of whatever internal changes may take place, with energy disappearing in one form reappearing in another. (Think internal condensation due to air leaking, reducing thermal R-value of the system.)

· Reduction: The action of making a specific item (in this case energy use) smaller or less in amount. (Think cost savings.)

· Conservation: Prevention of the wasteful use of a resource.

So, looking at this article’s title, what does “designing a thermally efficient roof system” imply?

Photo 2. Rigid insulation is often cut short of penetrations, in this case the roof curb. To prevent heat loss around the perimeter of the curb, the void has been sprayed with spray polyurethane foam insulation. Open joints in the insulation have also been filled with spray foam insulation. Note too, the vapor retarder beyond the insulation.

I conducted an informal survey of architects, building managers, roof consultants and building owners in Chicago, and they revealed that the goals of a thermally efficient roof system include:

  • Ensuring energy efficiency, thus preventing the wasteful use of energy.
  • Reducing energy use, thus conserving a resource.
  • Being energy conservative so that outside forces do not reduce the energy-saving capabilities of the roof system.

Unfortunately, I would hazard a guess and say that most new roof systems being designed do not achieve energy conservation.

Why is this important? The past decade has seen the world building committee strive to ensure the energy efficiency of our built environment.

A building’s roof is often the most effective part of the envelope in conserving energy. The roof system, if designed properly, can mitigate energy loss or gain and allow the building’s mechanical systems to function properly for occupant comfort.

Photo 3. Rigid insulation is often not tight to perimeter walls or roof edges. Here the roofing crew is spraying polyurethane foam insulation into the void to seal it from air and heat transfer. Once the foam rises it will be trimmed flush with the surface of the insulation.

Energy conservation is increasingly being viewed as an important performance objective for governmental, educational, commercial and industrial construction. Interest in the conservation of energy is high and is being actively discussed at all levels of the building industry, including federal and local governments; bodies that govern codes and standards; and trade organizations.

As with many systems, it is the details that are the difference between success and failure on the roof. This article will be based on the author’s 35 years of roof system design and in-field empirical experience and will review key design elements in the detailing of energy-conserving roof systems. Best design and detail practices for roofing to achieve energy conservation will be delineated, in-field examples reviewed and details provided.  

Advocacy for Improvement

In the past decade, American codes and standard associations have increased the required thermal values every updating cycle. They have realized the importance of energy conservation and the value of an effective thermal layer at the roof plane. They have done this by prescribing thermal R-values by various climatic zones defined by the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, now better known by its acronym ASHRAE. Additionally, two layers of insulation with offset joints are now prescribed in the IECC (International Energy Conservation Code). Furthermore, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has also realized the importance of conserving energy and defined an energy conservation goal called the 2030 Challenge, in which they challenge architects, owners and builders to achieve “zero energy” consuming buildings by 2030.

These codes, standards and laudable goals have gone a long way to improving energy conservation, but they are short on the details that are needed to achieve the vision.

Energy Conservation Is More Than Insulation

Roofs are systems and act as a whole. Thus, a holistic view of the system needs to be undertaken to achieve a greater good. Roof system parameters such as the following need to be considered:

  • Air and/or vapor barriers and their transitions at walls, penetrations and various roof edges.
  • Multiple layers of insulation with offset joints.
  • Preventing open voids in the thermal layers at perimeters and penetrations.
  • Protection of the thermal layer from physical damage above and warm moist air from below.
Photo 4. The mechanical fasteners below the roof membrane used to secure the insulation conduct heat through them to the fastening plate. The resultant heat loss can be observed in heavy frost and snowfall.

Air intrusion into the roof system from the interior can have extremely detrimental consequences. In fact, Oak Ridge National Laboratory research has found that air leakage is the most important aspect in reducing energy consumption. Interior air is most often conditioned, and when it moves into a roof system, especially in the northern two-thirds of the country where the potential for condensation exists, the results can include wet insulation, deteriorating insulation facers, mold growth and rendering the roof system vulnerable to wind uplift. Preventing air intrusion into the roof system from the interior of the building needs to be considered in the design when energy efficiency is a goal. Thus, vapor retarders should be considered for many reasons, as they add quality and resiliency to the roof system (refer to my September/October 2014 Roofing article, “Vapor Retarders: You Must Prevent Air and Vapor Transport from a Building’s Interior into the Roof System”). The transition of the roof vapor/air barrier and the wall air barrier should be detailed and the contractors responsible for sealing and terminations noted on the details.

One layer of insulation results in joints that are often open or could open over time, allowing heat to move from the interior to the exterior — a thermal short. Energy high to energy low is a law of physics that can be severe. Thus, the International Code Council now prescribes two layers of insulation with offset joints. (See Photo 1.)

When rigid insulation is cut to conform around penetrations, roof edges and rooftop items, the cuts in the insulation are often rough. This results in voids, often from the top surface of the roof down to the roof deck. With the penetration at the roof deck also being rough, heat loss can be substantial. Thus, we specify and require that these gaps be filled with spray foam insulation. (See Photos 2 and 3.)

Insulation Material Characteristics and Energy Conservation

In addition to the system components’ influence on energy loss, the insulation material characteristics should also be considered. The main insulation type in the United States is polyisocyanurate. Specifiers need to know the various material characteristics in order to specify the correct material. Characteristics to consider are:

Photo 5. Heat loss through the single layer insulation and the mechanical fasteners was so great that it melted the snow, and when temperatures dropped to well below freezing, the melted snow froze. This is a great visual to understand the high loss of heat through mechanical fasteners.
  • Density: 18, 20, 22 or 25 psi; nominal or minimum.
  • Facer type: Fiber reinforced paper or coated fiberglass.
  • Dimensional stability: Will the material change with influences from moisture, heat or foot traffic.
  • Thermal R-value.

In Europe, a popular insulation is mineral wool, which is high in fire resistance, but as with polyisocyanurate, knowledge of physical characteristic is required:

  • Density: If you don’t specify the density of the insulation board, you get 18 psi nominal. Options include 18, 20 and 25 psi; the higher number is more dimensionally stable. We specify 25 psi minimum.
  • Protection required: Cover board or integral cover board.
  • Thermal R-value.

Protecting the Thermal Layer

It is not uncommon for unknowledgeable roof system designers or builders looking to reduce costs to omit or remove the cover board. The cover board, in addition to providing an enhanced surface for the roof cover adhesion, provides a protective layer on the top of the insulation, preventing physical damage to the insulation from construction activities, owner foot traffic and acts of God.

The underside of the thermal layers should be protected as well from the effects of interior building air infiltration. An effective air barrier or vapor retarder, in which all the penetrations, terminations, transitions and material laps are detailed and sealed, performs this feat. If a fire rating is required, the use of gypsum and gypsum-based boards on roof decks such as steel, wood, cementitious wood fiber can help achieve the rating required.

Insulation Attachment and Energy Efficiency

The method in which the insulation is attached to the roof deck can influence the energy-saving potential of the roof system in a major way. This fact is just not acknowledged, as I see some mechanically attached systems being described as energy efficient when they are far from it. Attaching the insulation with asphalt and/or full cover spray polyurethane adhesive can — when properly installed — provide a nearly monolithic thermal layer from roof deck to roof membrane as intended by the codes.

Figure 1. Roof details should be drawn large with all components delineated. Air and vapor retarders should be clearly shown and noted and any special instructions called out. Project-specific roof assembly details go a long way to moving toward ensuring energy conservation is achieved. Here the air and vapor retarder are highlighted and definitively delineated. Voids at perimeters are called out to be filled with spray foam and methods of attachment are noted.

Another very popular method of attaching insulation to the roof deck and each other is the use of bead polyurethane foam adhesive. The beads are typically applied at 6 inches (15.24 cm), 8 inches (20.32 cm), 9 inches (22.86 cm) or 12 inches (30.48 cm).

The insulation needs to be compressed into the beads and weighted to ensure the board does not rise up off the foam. Even when well compressed and installed, there will be a ±3/16-inch void between the compressed beads, as full compression of the adhesive is not possible. This void allows air transport, which can be very detrimental if the air is laden with moisture in cold regions. The linear void below the insulation also interrupts the vertical thermal insulation section.

The most detrimental method of insulation attachment in regard to energy loss is when the insulation is mechanically fastened with the fasteners below the roof cover. Thermal bridging takes place from the conditioned interior to the exterior along the steel fastener. This can readily be observed on roofs with heavy frost and light snowfall, as the metal stress plates below the roof cover transfer heat from the interior to the membrane, which in turn melts the frost or snow above. (See Photo 4.)

The thermal values of roofs are compromised even more when a mechanically attached roof cover is installed. The volume of mechanical fasteners increases, as does the heat loss, which is not insignificant. Singh, Gulati, Srinivasan, and Bhandari in their study “Three-Dimensional Heat Transfer Analysis of Metal Fasteners in Roofing Assemblies”found an effective drop in thermal value of up to 48 percent when mechanical fasteners are used to attach roof covers. (See Photo 5). This research would suggest that for these types of roof systems, in order to meet the code-required effective thermal R-value, the designer needs to increase the required thermal R-value by 50 percent.

Recommendations to Increase Energy Savings

Code and standard bodies as well as governments around the world all agree that energy conservation is a laudable goal. Energy loss through the roof can be substantial, and an obvious location to focus on to prevent energy loss and thus create energy savings. The thermal layer works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Compromises in the thermal layer will affect the performance of the insulation and decrease energy savings for years to come. Attention to installation methods and detailing transitions at roof edges, penetrations, walls and drains needs to be given in order to optimize the energy conservation potential of the roof system.

Based on empirical field observation of roof installations and forensic investigations, the following recommendations are made to increase the energy-saving potential of roof systems.

  • Vapor and air barriers are often required or beneficial and should be specifically detailed at laps, penetrations, terminations and transitions to wall air barriers. (See Figure 1.) Call out on the drawings the contractor responsible for material termination so that this is clearly understood.
  • The thermal layer (consisting of multiple layers of insulation) needs to be continuous without breaks or voids. Seal all voids at penetrations and perimeters with closed cell polyurethane sealant.
  • Design insulation layers to be a minimum of two with offset joints.
  • Select quality insulation materials. For polyisocyanurate, that would mean coated fiberglass facers. For mineral wool, that would mean high density.
  • Attach insulation layers to the roof deck in a manner to eliminate thermal breaks. If mechanically fastening the insulation, the fasteners should be covered with another layer of insulation, cover board or both.
  • Design roof covers that do not require mechanical fasteners below the membrane as an attachment method.
  • Protect the thermal layer on top with cover boards and below with appropriate air and vapor barriers.

Saving limited fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions is a worldwide goal. Designing and installing roof systems with a well thought out, detailed and executed thermal layer will move the building industry to a higher plane. Are you ready for the challenge?

About the author: Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CRP, CSI, is a principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd. in Barrington, Illinois. For more information, visit www.hutchinsondesigngroup.com.

Examining Workplace Policies in the Era of Legalized Marijuana Use

Legalization of marijuana continues to be a topic of great interest and debate throughout the country. For example, Acreage Holdings, a U.S.-based cannabis firm, made a splash in the news when their ad spotlighting the use of medical marijuana for pain relief was denied a commercial slot during this year’s Super Bowl.

The legalization of marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use, is an issue our country continues to struggle with as lawmakers weigh the costs and benefits of legalizing the drug. Despite the fact that marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law — the Controlled Substance Act — to date recreational use of marijuana is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana use is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

There appears to be a growing trend of legalizing marijuana use in one form or another. In fact, on December 6, 2018, Forbes reported in its article titled “Marijuana’s Ten Biggest Victories of 2018,” just in the previous year Vermont lawmakers approved a marijuana legalization bill allowing growth and possession of small amounts of cannabis; voters in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah approved ballot measures for medical marijuana use; and Michigan voters approved a ballot measure for legal recreational marijuana use.

With this growing trend toward legalizing marijuana, many employers may be left wondering how this will impact their businesses. Ensuring workplace safety should be a primary concern for any employer, particularly in the construction industry where employees may be operating heavy equipment or driving company vehicles. Right now, many companies may be relying on drug-free workplace policies to address those safety concerns. While these policies may be able to handle issues of recreational marijuana use, just as an employer can terminate or otherwise take disciplinary action against an employee who shows up to work intoxicated due to alcohol consumption, when medically prescribed marijuana is involved, this issue gets a little more complicated.

There is nothing inherently wrong with having a drug-free workplace policy. However, some recent cases have indicated that legalization of medical marijuana use could throw a wrench in the way in which an employer is allowed to enforce its drug-free workplace policy. Particularly, this can be an issue for employers in states where the medical marijuana laws include anti-discrimination or other employment provisions.

One example is Connecticut’s medical marijuana legislation, the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA). PUMA prescribes qualifying conditions for a person to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. PUMA also contains an anti-discrimination provision that bars an employer from refusing to hire a person or from discharging, penalizing or threatening an employee based on an employee’s status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient. The statute further provides that it does not restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or restrict an employer’s ability to discipline an employee for being under the influence of intoxicating substances during work hours.

In 2017, in Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co. LLC, the US District Court for the District of Connecticut denied in part an employer’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s state discrimination claim when her offer of employment was rescinded after testing positive for cannabis. In Noffsinger, the plaintiff accepted a job offer from the employer which was contingent on drug testing. The plaintiff informed the employer she qualified as a medical marijuana user under PUMA for treatment of PTSD. When the plaintiff’s drug test came back positive for THC, the employer rescinded the offer.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the employer and the employer filed a motion to dismiss her claim. The employer’s primary argument for dismissal of the claim was based on the assertion that PUMA was preempted by federal law. The court disagreed with this assertion and further found that PUMA creates a private right of action.

In 2018, the US District Court for the District of Connecticut heard motions for summary judgement on plaintiff’s discrimination claim and the Court held that the employer violated PUMA by rescinding the plaintiff’s job offer.

The Noffsinger case appears to illustrate the idea that while an employer is not prohibited from having a drug-free workplace policy, Connecticut law prohibits the policy from being used in a decision of hiring or to take action against an employee for their medically prescribed, off-duty marijuana use.

What remains a wildcard is how courts will handle discrimination claims in states where their medical marijuana legislation does not contain any explicit employment protections. A recent Massachusetts case (Barbuto v. Advantage Sales & Mktg., LLC et al.) could prove to be fairly groundbreaking in that regard. Massachusetts’ laws regulating the use of medical marijuana do not contain explicit anti-discrimination or employment provisions. However, in July 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reversed the dismissal of an employee’s discrimination claim against her employer when she was terminated from her employment because she tested positive for marijuana as a result of her lawful medical marijuana use.

This was a scenario that involved an employee prescribed marijuana for treatment of her Crohn’s disease, and the employee claimed she would use small quantities when at home a couple of times per week to maintain a healthy appetite. The employer was informed of her medical marijuana use and informed the employee that it should not be a problem. The employee ultimately underwent a drug screen that was positive for marijuana and was terminated due to the positive test results. The Barbuto court’s decision provides medical marijuana users the ability to assert claims against their employers for handicap discrimination under the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act.

The Barbutocase, only having gotten past the motion to dismiss phase, still has a long way to go in terms of an ultimate ruling on the matter. Depending on whether a court finds in favor of plaintiff’s discrimination claim in this particular scenario has the potential to impact other state courts’ decisions in this regard.

Unfortunately, because we are only recently starting to see some of these issues rear their head in the state and federal court systems many of these issues are still in preliminary phases, as is the case with Barbuto. However, what that does mean is in the very near future we are likely to see more courts having to render decisions on these issues and hopefully provide more guidance to employees and employers.

Trying to navigate the waters while legalization of marijuana is still in a period of growth can seem like a daunting task for employers, but there are things that all employers can do to better protect themselves from these types of legal disputes. First, employers need to be familiar with their state and local laws regarding marijuana use; they should also stay up to date on pending legislation or issues on the ballot in their state regarding the same. Having clear and precise policies regarding the workplace can be beneficial, but employers must remember that the state laws vary. Therefore, employers with national companies could be opening themselves up to liability if they simply implement a blanket policy for all locations.

About the author: Felicia M. Haigh is an attorney with Raleigh, N.C.-based Anderson Jones PLLC. Questions about this article can be directed to her at fhaigh@andersonandjones.com.

The Stud Wall and the Roof

Photo 1. With a stud wall parapet, inappropriate wall substrate and base anchor screws into a material with low pull-out resistance, this roof blew off in what would be considered moderate winds. Images: HUTCHINSON DESIGN GROUP LTD.

How do I start an article on a topic that is so problematic, yet it’s not being addressed by designers, roof system manufacturers, FM, SPRI, NRCA or any other quality assurance standard? Like many transitions in the building industry, the use of metal studs in exterior wall construction and roofing in new construction developed out of the twin concerns of value engineering and cost reduction. It has crept silently forward without any real consideration of the possible effects this less robust construction method would have on roof system performance. 

Photo 2. When the base anchors pull out of the substrate, the membrane becomes unsecured and will lift up. Here the membrane was observed lifting to heights of 3 to 4 feet, at which point it popped the coping off.

You would think that someone along the line would say, “Hmm, I wonder how strong, effective or appropriate a screw fastener through a modified gypsum board sheathing would be?” Let me answer that question: Worthless. (See Photos 1-3.) 

There are many issues with metal stud wall construction as it relates to roofing: air drive, moisture, interior pressures, and membrane adhesion to substrate, just to name a few. This article will address only one concern: The base anchor attachment horizontally into steel stud walls, most often clad with a modified gypsum substrate board. (See Photo 4.)

Why Is This a Concern?

Photo 3. All the base anchor screws pulled out of the substrate except one that was into the stud, which just tore away when the rest of the membrane lifted.

Problems often begin in the design phase when the condition is not detailed appropriately. (See Figures 1 and 2.) The architect/engineer/ designer shows some lines and figures that the roofing contractor or manufacturer will make it work — and specifies a 20-year warranty. The designer’s first mistake is to think that contractors and manufacturers design. They do not.If I were a betting man, I would guess that 99 percent of the specified wall substrate for roof-side metal stud walls is a product that is unacceptable for roofing base flashing application. You’re smiling now, aren’t you? Been there, huh? Designers often have little knowledge as to how a roof system, or even a roof membrane, is installed, and thus don’t even realize the errors of their ways. If they did, they might realize that at the very least a base anchor attachment is at 12 inches on center, and at some time a screw is going to have to go horizontally into the inappropriate sheathing substrate. Concept 1: Architects design. I know this is scary.

Figure 1. This is a common architectural stud wall parapet detail. No base anchor is even being acknowledged, nor is the concern with vertical vapor drive in the stud wall cavity. This type of detailing, in my opinion, is below the standard of care of the architect.

Architects and designers who do not prepare project-specific details seem to love manufacturers’ standard details, which are provided as a baseline for developing appropriate project-specific details. They are not an end all, and thinking they are is a huge mistake. Another common mistake is not realizing that manufacturers do not have a standard detail for base anchor attachment into metal stud walls. This is probably because they never imagined that anyone would really try to anchor into such a poor substrate. Concept 2: Manufacturers produce products that can be assembled in a roof system; they do not design.

Oh, but the contractor will make it work. Yeah, right. Concept 3: Contractors install materials provided by the manufacturer, as specified by the designer; they do not design. Are you starting to see a trend here?

You can now see the conundrum of the blind leading the blind. 

So, to be clear:

  • Architects: Design
  • Manufacturers: Produce products
  • Contractors: Install materials

To say it a bit clearer:

  • Architects: Design
  • Manufacturers: Do Not Design
  • Contractors: Do Not Design

Read it again and see where the responsibility lies. Of course, the manufacturer needs to produce quality materials, which sometimes does not occur, and contractors need to install the materials correctly, which sometimes does not occur.

Pull-Out Strength

So that we can get this detail correct, let’s look at pull-out strengths of various materials. But let’s start with trying to determine what pull-out resistance is required. For our example, let’s use 60-mil TPO, a common roofing membrane on new construction projects. 

Figure 2. This parapet detail has been well thought out in regard to thermal drive and concerns with condensation within the stud wall cavity, but ignores how the roof membrane will be attached to the wall. The insulation thickness will result in an unbraced section of the screw and allow rotation before it pulls out of what is assumed to be a gypsum base sheathing.

Manufacturers report on their data sheets for 60-mil TPO tear strength of around 130 pounds of force (lbf). The test for this isn’t pulling the membrane out from base anchors, but it’s a good start for our discussion. I suspect that if base anchors are attached at 9 inches or 12 inches on center that the series of fasteners will elevate this value.

Given that we know that the tear resistance of TPO with a series of fasteners is greater than the ASTM D751 Tearing Strength test, I will suggest that we need a substrate with a pull resistance greater than 260 lbf, or twice the tear strength value. After that the membrane will tear itself out from around the fastener plate. 

To determine the pull-out resistance of various sheathing materials, I had the pull-out resistance of a base anchor screw tested on several materials by Pro-Fastening Systems, a specialty distributor focusing on commercial roofing in the Midwest that provides certified pull-out testing. Three pull-out tests were performed on each material. (See Photo 5.) The mean resistance values are as follows:

Photo 4. This exterior view gives a good idea of how inadequate gypsum-related products are in regard to providing a pull-out resistance. A 16-, 18- or 20-gauge plate should have been placed at the stud wall from the concrete deck up above the anchor point.

1/2” plywood: 422 pounds

5/8” plywood: 402 pounds

1/2” glass-faced gypsum: 13.3 pounds

1/2” integral fiber reinforced gypsum: 110 pounds

22-gauge steel deck: 646 pounds

22-gauge acoustical steel deck: 675 pounds

18-gauge steel stud: 1,086 pounds

26-gauge metal stud: 646 pounds

16-gauge steel plate: 1,256 pounds

18-gauge steel plate: 978 pounds

20-gauge steel plate:724 pounds

22-gauge steel plate:625 pounds

So as a starter we eliminate all the typical gypsum-based sheathing materials from being used at the base of the roof. I’m not keen on plywood either, as over time, as the plywood dries, the pull-out strength lessens. Additionally, gluing to wet plywood never works well. 

Designing the Base Anchor on Metal Stud Walls

Photo 5. Various materials were tested to determine their pull-out resistance. The results confirmed what intuitively most roofing contractors would know — that gypsum-based products have very little holding power.

The concept is simple — provide a substrate with a pull-out resistance greater than the tear strength of the roofing membrane attached in series. So, let’s pretend you’re drafting. Come on now, get your paper out, a number 2H pencil, a parallel rule and triangle to get the feel of the detail — no CAD for you today. For our example, assume you’re in the Chicago area, minimum R-value of 30, tapered insulation and 24 feet from the drain to the wall. 

First, draft and show the roof deck and your wall, roof edge and studs. Now you’re ready to start your detail. First go to your roof plan, where you have shown all the tapered insulation, and calculate what the thickness will be at your studs. Remember, code requires thickness within 4 feet of the drain. For our detail, you’re near Chicago and thus the height of a tapered insulation layout might be as follows. For the R-30 at the roof drain with a substrate board, insulation and cover board, let say for simplicity it’s 6.5 inches (1/2-inch cover board + 5.4 inches of code-required insulation + 1/2-inch cover board). Now you need to calculate the tapered insulation. For our example, the distance from drain to wall is exactly 24 feet. With a taper of 1/4-inch per foot tapered that is 6.5 inches (1/4 inch x 24 feet = 6 inches, plus the 1/2-inch starting thickness of the tapered). If you plan to use foam adhesive, add 3/8 inch per layer of foam, and be sure you understand all the layers in a tapered system. So, at the wall, the insulation will be approximately 13 inches. With the screw and plate anchor say, 2 inches above the insulation surface, we have a height of 15 inches. So, let’s say we need a substrate capable of pull-outs at least 18 inches in height from the roof deck.

Figure 3. Design of a stud wall parapet includes delineating all the components and tells the contractor what is expected. Burying such information in the specification does no one any good, as the architect most likely will not know to review the shop drawings to those requirements.

Now, I know you are thinking, “OMG, 18 inches — I can cut in a little 6-inch strip at the top of the insulation.” Don’t do it. The strip will not have any continuity or strength and will often buckle under load. Additionally, this continuous substrate piece needs to be placed on the stud. 

Back to your drafting board. Draw in against your stud a continuous 16-, 18- or 20-gauge galvanized steel plate. Depending if the membrane is to be taken up and over the stud wall or terminated some distance above the roofing, the rest of the wall can be clad in less robust materials. Pick any substrate that is roofing membrane compatible and place it over the continuous steel plate and studs above. Tell the contractor how often you want the substrate anchored.

Figure 4. We often find that a simple isometric drawing showing the construction of stud wall parapets is helpful in informing all the related trades how their work interrelates.

Draw in your substrate board, vapor retarder, insulation (and don’t forget to show and call out the spray foam seal between the insulation and wall, as there is often a void). Bring your membrane to the wall, turn it up 3 inches fully adhered to the substrate and show a plate and screw. Call this plate and screw out and note the spacing on the drawing; I’ve never seen a spec up on the roof. The base flashing can now be delineated coming down over the anchors and out onto the flat. Depending on the material, show a weld or seam tape. Now compare your detail to Figures 3 and 4. Who has properly designed the condition?

Remember

There are many issues and concerns with steel stud walls and roofing. This issue with substrate cladding in regard to the interface with the roofing system is only one that I see again and again on projects that have wind damage issues. By carefully designing the roof termination conditions, taking into account all the possible impacts and then detailing the conditions properly, your standard of care can be met and the owner well served.

About the author: Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CSI, RRP, is a principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd. in Barrington, Illinois. For more information, visit www.hutchinsondesigngroup.com

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

Building Codes: Everyday Tools for Disaster Preparedness and Relief

In the days following the powerful assault of Hurricane Michael on the Florida Panhandle, images of widespread devastation headlined television news coverage and print media. Not as prone to hurricane activity as the rest of Florida, the area hit by the almost Category 5 storm had many older homes built prior to the enactment of stricter building codes put into place after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. As a result, many structures built to less stringent requirements were unprepared to weather the onslaught of wind, rain, and debris tossed by Michael’s sustained 155-mph winds.

Nothing can guarantee a structure’s integrity when faced with such brutal conditions. However, contrast the post-storm condition of those older structures with that of newer buildings and the benefits of more rigorous regulations are clear. The aerial images of the impacted communities illustrate the value of implementing building codes that can contribute to greater resiliency both for the structures themselves and for the safety and comfort of the people and property contained within them during and after a storm makes landfall.

Media coverage of the storm’s aftermath included profiles of some of the structures that fared better than their neighbors. The New York Timesran a profile entitled, “Among the Ruins of Mexico Beach Stands One House, Built ‘for the Big One’” and the Washington Post published an article entitled, “Houses intact after Hurricane Michael were often saved by low-cost reinforcements.” 

When interviewed on CNN, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said, “… there’s a lesson here about building codes. The key to resiliency in this country is where our local officials and state officials are going to have to do something proactively to start passing building codes to high standards.” 

As is often the case in the wake of a disaster, there is a profusion of interest in exploring strategies to protect communities and properties from devastation. These articles and interview reveal that building structures with conscious attention to resiliency can offer markedly improved performance in extreme weather. As an added bonus, many of the products and processes that deliver this resiliency can also contribute to decreased energy usage and operational costs for buildings regardless of the weather they’re subjected to.

Even before this summer’s series of destructive storms, elected officials and government agencies were working to implement wide-ranging strategies to protect our communities. Updating state and local building codes, which exist to safeguard life and protect private and public interests through regulating the design, construction practices, construction material quality, location, occupancy usage, and maintenance of buildings and structures, is one of the most effective ways to increase the safety and resiliency of our built environment.

Congressional Action

On two occasions this year, Congress enacted reforms for disaster preparedness that raise the profile and importance of building codes in planning for and recovering from disasters. The nation’s disaster relief law — the StaffordAct— was first reformed as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act and later reformed with permanent fixes under the FAA Reauthorization bill passed in October 2018. 

Under these amendments, building code adoption and enforcement are added as eligible activities and criteria used in grant programs aimed at reducing the impact of future disasters. In other words, states that act to adopt modern building codes and standards will be eligible for additional federal assistance in the event disaster strikes. Moreover, the reforms allow damaged buildings to be rebuilt with federal support to better withstand future events, rather than merely restored to their pre-disaster condition. 

While these changes do not specifically address energy codes, adopting and updating building codes will also lead to improvements in energy performance. Energy efficiency is a key part of a building’s — and a community’s — ability to withstand and quickly recover after a disaster. For example, a well-insulated building can maintain a comfortable temperature when power is lost or intermittent. Building energy codes will also encourage the construction of more robust building envelope systems that can help avoid the crippling effects of moisture intrusion that are common in severe weather events.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first nine months of 2018 (through October 9) resulted in 11 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each. Moody’s Analyticsestimates that losses resulting from Hurricane Michael will cost between $15 and $21 billion. Damage to homes and businesses are a major contributor to the total financial impact of a disaster. 

Buildings constructed to meet or exceed modern building codes can therefore play an important role in reducing the overall economic impact of natural disasters. According to the “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report”published by the National Institute of Building Sciences, the model building codes developed by the International Code Council can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent. In addition, designing new buildings to exceed the 2015 International Building Code(IBC) and International Residential Code(IRC) would result in 87,000 new, long-term jobs and an approximate 1 percent increase in utilization of domestically produced construction material.

While people, pets and some belongings can be evacuated to safety with enough warning and resources, buildings can’t be moved to higher ground or be rebuilt overnight in anticipation of an oncoming storm. Indeed, buildings are often the only things separating people from the brutal forces of natural disasters. The protection they offer is often determined by the quality of the construction materials and the installation methods used, which are themselves often regulated by the safety standards in place at the time of original construction or major renovation. 

The recognition by Congress that modern building codes deliver an answer to disaster preparedness is a positive for homeowners and businesses across the country. States now have added incentive to prepare for tomorrow by enacting and enforcing better building codes today. And more exacting building codes will create momentum to raise the bar for all of the codes that work together to create stronger and more resilient buildings that will contribute to better outcomes in extreme weather and reduced energy consumption in any weather. 

About the author: Justin Koscher is president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). For more information, visit www.polyiso.org.

Weather, Congress Among Variables Likely to Affect Industry in the Year Ahead

As we move forward in 2019, the roofing industry can expect to be influenced by two sometimes out-of-control, difficult to predict forces: the weather and the United States Congress. Add to the equation a shifting economic outlook, as well as uncertain immigration policies, and you have a potentially toxic mix that makes any projection difficult. But there are some constants in the current environment that can help guide strategies for the roofing industry, and here’s our take on what to expect as this decade winds to a close.

There may be some limited success in tackling immigration reform, but don’t expect enough change to mitigate the labor shortage experienced by roofing companies. The Trump-promised wall has yet to be built, but actions to slow illegal immigration have been somewhat successful. The roofing industry has pressed for immigration reform; experts estimate that worker shortages account for up to 20 percent in lost roofing business each year, and sensible immigration reform could help end those shortages. The Center for Construction Research and Training, or CPWR, points out that in some construction occupations, including roofing, more than half of the workers are of Hispanic origin. So, the roofing industry certainly has a compelling case to be made for reform. 

Balancing the demand for secure borders against the need for additional workers has so far failed to produce meaningful legislation. Given the intense disagreement on how to move forward, 2019 will most likely be another year of bipartisan gridlock on this issue. The encouraging news comes from two areas of activity: innovations that promote ease of roofing installation, and industry efforts to certify roofing workers and increase the prestige of working in the trades. These efforts may help to recoup some of the business that has been lost because of the labor shortage, but only rational immigration reform will help to meet the unmet demand.

The weather may, in fact, be more predictable than the lawmakers who just assembled on Capitol Hill. Late in November of this past year, the Federal Government released the National Climate Assessment, the fourth comprehensive look at climate-change impacts on the United States since 2000. The Congressionally mandated thousand-page report delivered a sobering warning about the impact of climate change on the United States and its economy, detailing hownatural disasters are becoming more commonplace throughout the country and predicting that they may become much worse. 

While some may challenge the reality of long-term climate change, statistics tell us that short-term increases in cataclysmic weather events are an indisputable fact of life. And a temporary lull in these disasters cannot be taken as a sign of a change in weather patterns. For instance, as of early August this past year, the Tropical Meteorology Team at Colorado State University downgraded the forecast for the rest of the year, until November 1, from      “slightly above average Atlantic hurricane season” to less than anticipated. They were correct, for a while. No hurricanes formed in the Atlantic during the rest of August, making it the first season in five years without a storm of hurricane magnitude. But just as forecasters were declaring victory over unpredictable nature, Hurricane Florence delivered a pounding to the Carolinas in early September, and in October Hurricane Michael devastated much of the Florida panhandle. The erratic weather patterns did not stop at the end of the hurricane season: an early December storm dumped as much as a foot of snow on parts of the Carolinas that rarely see that much during an entire winter. So much for the predicted respite from extreme weather conditions.

The difficult-to-predict weather is creating one certainty for the roofing industry: customers will increasingly be looking for durable materials and systems that can withstand weather extremes. Additionally, the focus is turning to anticipating destructive weather and mitigating its potential impact by creating resilient structures. ERA has just produced its first annual report, “Building Resilience: The Roofing Perspective.” We anticipate updating this product each year to help provide the roofing industry with the latest approaches to creating resilient roofing systems. 

Unpredictable labor markets and unpredictable weather patterns are defining the “new normal” for our industry and will no doubt be part of our reality in 2019. But based on past performance, there’s at least one certainty we can count on: the roofing industry will come out ahead in the face of these challenges, providing our customers with innovative products and superior service and providing our employees with a work environment that ensures a secure future.

About the Author: Jared Blum is the executive director of the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), www.epdmroofs.org, and serves as chair of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. 

Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?

As marketing professionals who have worked in the roofing industry for more years than we like to admit, we are very aware of the challenge that contractors have in developing and implementing successful marketing programs. With the flurry of lead generation companies popping up seemingly every day, and the SEO companies who promise first page of Google results, how can you decide what to spend money on and how do you know what will work? 

It’s very tempting to fall victim to “spray and pray” marketing, where you throw some money to a bunch of different things, spray some marketing ads or mailers out there and pray that it works and the phone rings. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Success comes from having a plan in place that supports your business goals and provides consistent activities and messaging. 

We know that marketing for roofing contractors can be confusing, frustrating and elusive. Most roofing contractors are craftsmen and women who have started businesses by understanding and excelling at roofing, waterproofing and building envelope technology. They are not marketing professionals, so it is hard to change gears and figure out how to sell or promote their services while also running operations, estimating, sales and the business overall. A good marketing plan helps drive marketing without having to worry all the time.

Taking the time up front to strategize and plan on how to market your business successfully enables you to move on to other challenges of the day, week or month. A good plan can be the template for what needs to happen daily, weekly and monthly to keep marketing on task. It also eliminates daily questions or sales calls for additional marketing initiatives. By creating and sticking to a yearly plan, you are simplifying the day-to-day decisions that can stymie progress.

Fewer approvals and more action reduce the stress put on decision makers and puts the action into the hands of the marketing professionals. Whether it is a person in the office, an agency or a marketing coordinator implementing the marketing plan, by being prepared ahead of time you will reduce the stress of making reactive decisions or, worse, doing nothing due to lack of time and/or planning.

A good marketing plan will also save you money. Without a plan it is easy to say yes to that advertising salesperson from the local media or free coupon website; or that great new advertising concept for ad words or events that is purchased mid-year without planning or research. It can cost the company in lost time, low productivity and extra expense when you do not budget in advance. When you formulate a plan and establish a budget, you can still move money around if necessary, but there is a set allocation to work within.

Timing is important. Look at starting your yearly marketing plan in the fall if possible. It should be a planned exercise to review the past year and look at the upcoming year. Reviewing statistics, campaigns and lead/close ratio is important before starting on the tactical plans for advertising, PR and direct marketing. By organizing budgeting meetings or even off-site working retreats with your leadership team (ideally comprised of leadership from sales, operations, accounting and marketing), you can take the time to review past performance while setting new goals that reflect growth. By being conscious of past performance, you will set the stage for developing strong marketing programs for the next year.

Establish Your Goals

In fact, you should not even start looking at a marketing plan until you have your goals set. What are the company’s plans for growth next year? Will there be new services or products? Will there be any changes in overall company mission? Marketing supports the goals of the company and supports the sales team in attaining the revenue and profitability goals that make a company successful. If you do not have strong goals and plans, then marketing will most likely flounder.

Regarding sales, it is critical that marketing works hand-in-hand with sales. The marketing plan needs to reflect the goals of the sales team so that the marketing activities are nurturing and delivering the right types of leads for sales success. If the goal is to grow metal roofing but marketing is delivering asphalt shingle leads that are not upgradable, both teams will fail. 

By understanding the types of customers the sales team is looking for and the products and services they will be selling, a marketing plan can be created that will result in success for all departments as well as for the company.

By creating a marketing plan for your roofing business, you are taking the time to determine the ideal customer for your business and how you will attract, convert, close and delight that customer. A good marketing plan that is well thought out will address every stage of the sales and marketing process and detail how you will retain the attention of past customers while also gaining ongoing referrals.

So, let’s get back to that original question: how will you know where you should be spending your marketing dollars? Well, it depends. That’s the reason developing your marketing plan is so important. During the process you will have identified your goals and ideal customers. If your business goal is to focus on commercial roof restorations, then you want to invest dollars where your customers can be reached. You might consider joining your local chapter of a building owner or facility manager’s group, or implement an advertising program on LinkedIn that targets specific job titles in your area. 

On the other hand, if your business goal is to focus on residential roof replacements, you might consider a digital advertising program that is geofenced to target neighborhoods with homes that are 20 years or older and will soon need a new roof. The strategies that you use to reach your customers really depend on what you have determined in your marketing plan.

Your marketing plan serves as a guide for your business. It spells out your company’s positioning statement, the markets you will serve, your yearly goals, your brand promise, the tasks and timelines as well as the tools and technology needed to achieve your goals. It will also help you determine budget and resources needed to implement the tasks, campaigns and initiatives detailed in the plan. 

About the authors: Heidi J. Ellsworth and Karen L. Edwards specialize in the roofing industry, helping contractors, manufacturers and associations achieve their marketing, branding and sales goals. They have authored two books: “Sales and Marketing for Roofing Contractors” and “Building a Marketing Plan for Roofing Contractors.” Both are available in the NRCA Bookstore and on Amazon.