The 7 Commandments of Roofing

If I were the Roofing God for a day, what would I change? Oh, where do I start? First of all, there would be none of this “you should,” “can,” “may” or “it is recommended” nomenclature. I would have commands: Thou shall do the following.

Freezer Buildings and Block Ice Insulation

Photos 1 and 2. When moist exterior air is pulled into the roof systems of freezer buildings, the moisture condenses and freezes. Here gaps in the insulation are filled with ice. On the interior there are icicles more than 10 feet long. The cause? Air intrusion at the roof edge under the membrane and wood blocking. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

I have never opened up a roof over a freezer building that wasn’t solid ice between the insulation joints. How does this travesty occur? Ignorance? In part. Naiveté? Yes. Who is guilty? Whoever is the roof system designer. Most designers should know that there is an enormous moisture drive from the exterior to the interior. This drive is not a passive movement, but a huge, sucking pressure. It’s like there is a shop vac in the interior trying to pull in outside air. But designers fail to realize that the first sources of interior moisture intrusion into the roof system are moisture migrating out from exposed soil until the concrete slab is poured; moisture coming from the interior concrete floor slab; and latent air moisture (relative humidity) in the interior air before the freezer is operational.

We in the roofing industry are very good at keeping water out of the building. It’s the influx of air that is destroying these roofs shortly after bringing the freezer online. So how is the air getting in? Oh, let me count the ways: (1) though the unsealed membrane at the roof edge; (2) past beveled precast concrete joints at the roof edge; (3) below perimeter wood blocking at the roof edge; and (4) up through metal wall panel joints.

Photo 2.

Stopping air transport to the interior is key. Most designers believe that the roof membrane performs as the air/vapor barrier. In the field of the roof, perhaps, but their lack of knowledge about roof material characteristics and proper installation methods often leads designers astray. The perimeter becomes the weak link.

Let’s look at some common design mistakes:

1. In recent years, designers have revised roof membrane selection to reflective roof membranes, in part to garner a LEED point. The trouble is that these membranes are substantially ridged/stiff and can be difficult to turn over the roof edge, adhere and seal, so they are often barely turned over the edge and nailed off. The lack of a positive seal (that would be achieved by adhering the membrane to the perimeter wood blocking and wall) allows air to move up below the membrane.

2. When precast concrete panels are used at the walls, the joints are often beveled. What happens at the roof edge? The bevel extends right up to the perimeter wood of the coping that is straight and parallel to the outside wall face. The bevel becomes a gutter to channel wind up the wall to the underside of the gutter, gravel stop or coping. In a situation like the one outlined in No. 1 above, the wind can move in below the roof system.

3. When perimeter wood blocking is placed in a horizontal position at the roof edge, the underside of the wood blocking needs to be sealed. A non-curing, gun-grade butyl, applied in several rows, works well, such that when the blocking is secured to the wall, the underside of the blocking is sealed. Be aware of uneven substrates that will require additional sealant.

4. Metal wall panel joints are another potential problem spot. Ask a metal wall panel installer why they are only sealing one of the two exterior male–female joints and you are likely to hear, “because the exterior joint completes the vapor retarder” (which is on the exterior of the building when perfect). Technically they are correct. However, getting a perfect sealant joint to create a complete vapor retarder is not so easy. Think of how sealant is applied. The installer squeezes the caulk gun handle and the sealant oozes out in a thick bead, which can vary in thickness as the gun is drawn along. As the trigger is squeezed and the gun moves, the sealant bead decreases in diameter, and then the gun handle is squeezed again and a thick bead oozes out, and so on. At the end of the sealant application, the thinned-out bead is often not sufficient to properly seal the panels where they are engaged. Condensing water weeps out of the joints in the interior in cold storage areas and results in interior ice on freezer buildings. The sealant, whether factory applied or field applied, is not located at the exterior plane of the panel, but recessed in the outer tongue and groove joint, leaving the potential (almost a guarantee) that there will be a vertical “chimney” of about 1/16 of an inch that can channel air up under the membrane turned over the wall panel.

A quality vapor retarder (those of you thinking polyethylene, think again) placed on the roof deck will protect the thermal layers from vapor intrusion from the interior humidity, latent construction moisture, and ground moisture that accumulates before freezer draws down. It also prevents exterior air infiltration, which can result in interior “snow” and the huge icicle formations. (See Photos 1 and 2.)

Commandment #1: Thou shall place a vapor barrier at the roof deck on freezer/cold storage buildings and seal roof edge perimeters, drains and penetrations through the vapor retarder and all perimeter conditions to be airtight.

The Roof Drain Conspiracy

I am convinced that there is an international conspiracy to drive me nuts. It’s called the ‘how small can we cut out the membrane at the roof drain’ contest. (See Photo 3.)

Photo 3. Believe it or not, this is not even close to the winner of “who can cut the smallest hole in the roof membrane at the drain” contest. The membrane should be cut back to within 1/2 inch of the clamping ring to allow the drain to function as designed.

When I am called in as an expert on a building collapse, the first thing I tell the attorney is, “Save the roof drains and attached roof membrane!” Why, you ask? Because I want to see if the roofing contractor competed in the contest and if the installer and the consultant/architect will be party to the repair costs. Drains are designed to create a vortex to drain water most efficiently from the roof. (Watch how a toilet flushes to gain an understanding on how a drain works with the water swirling into the drainpipe.) The shape of the water flow from the roof surface to the drain bowl to the downspout is critical. When the hole cut in the membrane is too small, it can restrict drainage. Costs often drive projects, and it is not uncommon for a roof’s structural elements to be value engineered down to the bone. With intense rainfalls (you know, the 100-year rains that are occurring two or three times per year) and on larger roof areas where large outlet pipes are used, restricted water drainage can and has resulted in structural roof collapse.

So, I’m on a roof and observe the roofing crew cutting out a small hole at the drain. Being the conscientious consultant that I am, I ask, “Can you please cut out the membrane to within 1/2-inch of the clamping ring?” The answer is almost universal: “I’ll do it later.” Usually my blood pressure rises and face turns red as I explain the importance of making sure this detail is not overlooked.

Our details call out the proper way to cut out the membrane and our field observation reports call this out to be corrected, but I am forced to remind contractors again and again — sometimes even when it’s on the punch list. So, what’s a consultant to do? I reject the pay request.

Commandment #2: Call out on your roof drain details to cut back the membrane to within 1/2-inch of the clamping ring (a cloverleaf pattern around the bolts is best), and drive home the importance of this detail to the crew members in the field.

The 12-Inch Roof Curb

Photo 4. Roof insulation thicknesses now required by code make 12-inch roof curbs obsolete. Specify 18-inch curbs. Raising this curb with 16-gauge steel was very expensive. I suggested sending the bill to the engineer.

When energy was cheap, insulation was an inch or two in thickness, and the roof was built up, 12-inch-high roof curbs worked. With the new insulation requirements and tapered insulation, 12-inch curbs can be buried. Furthermore, future code mandates may increase insulation R-value, increasing insulation heights. So, consider this a public announcement to all mechanical engineers and curb manufacturers: Eliminate 12-inch curbs and specify curbs that are 18 inches or higher. (See Photo 4.)

Commandment #3: Specify only 18-inch and above roof curbs and rails.

Flapping in the Breeze

Photos 5 and 6. The membrane left unsealed at the roof perimeter has placed this roof in great jeopardy of wind damage. It is also allowing water to flow back into the insulation.

Driving around Chicago it’s not hard to see roof edges — gutters, gravel stop, and parapets — where the roof membrane is just flapping in the wind. (See Photos 5 and 6.) This is especially a concern when the roof system is mechanically attached and the air can move directly below the membrane. The roof typically is installed prior to the installation of the windows and doors, and while the building is open, airflow in the interior can create upward pressure on the roof system from below. This force, in association with the air getting below the membrane at the roof edge and with uplift above the membrane, drastically raises the risk of wind damage. Furthermore, when the membrane is not secured at the gutter roof edge, water draining off the roof will return back to the roof edge and move into the building and insulation.

Photo 6.

Wrap the membrane over the roof edge, adhere it in place and nail it off. This will save you during the installation and prevent air infiltration once the roof is complete. The designer should also delineate the area where the air barrier meets the roof vapor retarder and/or roof membrane and define who is responsible for what. Detail this explicitly.

Commandment #4: Roof membranes shall be extended down over the edge wood blocking a minimum of 1.5 inches onto the wall substrate, fully adhered and nailed off on the day it is installed. Where applicable, seal to the wall air barriers.

Holding Roof Drains Off the Roof Deck

Photo 7. Drains held up off the deck make re-roofing difficult when a vapor retarder is called for. I have seen roofs covered with 1.5 inches of water due to high drains, with the water just waiting to relieve itself to the interior at the first vapor retarder deficiency.

Nothing is more frustrating to a roofing contractor during a re-roof than removing the old roof to install a vapor retarder and finding that the roof drain has been held up off the roof deck. (See Photo 7.) This goes back to the design when the engineer and architect have no clue as to the use of proper sump pans and roof drains with extension rings — preferably threaded.

Commandment #5: Design, detail and draw the roof drain detail showing the roof deck with a sump pan provided by the roof drain manufacturer, installed by the plumbing contractor not the guys installing the roof deck), with the roof drain now flush to the roof deck, with a reversible collar (to which the extension ring threads engage), the threaded extension ring and dome.

Fill the Void, Bury the Screw, Save the Energy

Photo 8. Often a roofing contractor will leave voids like this around penetrations. Imagine the energy loss.

With the push over the past decade for energy savings/conservation, it is amazing to me that the code bodies have ignored two very highly energy consumptive or energy loss conditions: (1) voids in the thermal layer at penetrations and perimeter conditions; and (2) mechanical fasteners with plates below the roof cover. (See Photos 8-10.)

Photo 9. This photo shows multiple problems, beginning with a stud wall and a large gap at the deck. Warm air coming up the wall will cause deterioration of the water-based adhesives on the base flashing. The insulation panels are not tight to the wall or to each other. The metal strip looks pretty thin, is not a proper vapor retarder termination and will not hold the screws of the base anchor. This is a project that will continue giving work to us expert witnesses.

Some crews work to fit insulation tight to conditions. Others don’t. Eyeballing the circular cutout at vent pipes is common, resulting in fairly large voids at vent pipes. Roof edge conditions vary and significant voids can occur there, too. All of these voids need to be sealed with spray foam insulation, which should be allowed to rise and then trimmed flush to the insulation. I recommend that the spray foam be installed at each layer as subsequent insulation layers can shift the void. We have been requiring this for years without much blowback from contractors. The only issue that arose was when a contractor wanted to use polyurethane adhesive to fill voids; that was a no-go, as the polyurethane adhesive collapses down after it rises.

Photo 10. The screws and plates seen here are costing the building owner a fortune in lost energy.

Mechanical fasteners used to positively secure the insulation and membrane have become commonplace. But as I’ve noted before, we have seen roofs covered in frost with hundreds, if not thousands, of little spots of melted frost. The heat transfer through the fasteners is substantial. Research has found that on a mechanically attached roof cover, the energy loss can be over 40 percent above that of a system without exposed fasteners. As energy requirements are defined by R-value and with the potential for thermal loss due to the fasteners, I propose an R-value penalty for exposed fasteners. For example, in Chicago where the R-value requirement is 30, if you have a mechanically attached roof cover, the R-value required would be 42. That way the thermal efficiency would be equivalent and building owners wouldn’t pay the price for the designer’s lack of knowledge. Thus, as the Roofing God, I would implement this penalty and require all adhered roofs to have fasteners buried below insulation or cover board layers.

Commandment # 6: Show and note on your details the installation of spray foam insulation at penetrations, roof drains and perimeters.

Commandment # 7: All mechanical fasteners should be covered with insulation or a cover board; if not, 40 percent more R-value needs to be added to the thermal layer to compensate for the energy loss.

So, there you have the new roofing commandments that I would bestow if I were the Roofing God for a day. Let’s all work together though to bring about positive change and increase the sustainability and resiliency of our roofs. Together we can do it.

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.

Industry Q&A: RCI, Inc. Is Now IIBEC

Bob Card addresses the IIBEC audience at the Meeting of the Members.

A Conversation With Robert “Bob” Card, President of IIBEC

Q: RCI Inc. recently rebranded itself as the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC). Please describe the thinking behind the change. How does the new name reflect the nature and goals of the organization?

A: After many years of being known as the Roof Consultants Institute (RCI), it became apparent that a significant number of our members are also practicing in the disciplines of waterproofing and exterior walls. We wanted our name to better reflect who we are and what we do, and to describe our outreach beyond the North American continent. Additionally, the IIBEC (pronounced “eye-bec”) staff continually received calls from RCI timeshare customers mistaking that company with RCI, Inc.

Q: How has the membership reacted to the new name and rebranding effort?

A: Nearly all the comments I’ve received since the transition was announced have been positive. There are some who are not pleased, of course; change can be hard after so many years of familiarity with an organization’s name.

Q: How does your background help prepare you for the challenges you’ll face as president of IIBEC?

A: I have been in the building enclosure consulting industry for about three decades now, starting at a very basic level, and seen how technology has changed much of how we communicate and store and access Information. I expect our industry to continue to see an increasing rate of change, and I hope to leverage my experience to help determine how best to adapt evolving methods to best serve our members and the industry at large.

Q: What are some of the key initiatives IIBEC will be focusing on in the year ahead?

A: The rollout of our new IIBEC brand and logo will continue to be a priority, with lots of outreach planned for the next several months. We are working to develop a new credential, CBECxP (Certified Building Enclosure Commissioning Provider), which we believe will be a significant addition to our lineup of professional registrations. Our IIBEC Manual of Practice is being updated and should be completed by year’s end. We are also currently working to identify and hire a new EVP/CEO to replace Lionel Van der Walt, who is moving soon to a new challenge. Collaborations with other organizations are vital in an association. IIBEC cooperated with the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) prior to the rebranding and will continue to tighten these relationships, as well as explore other organizations to collaborate with. The core purposes and values IIBEC has laid out in 2018’s RCI, Inc. Strategic Plan will carry over to the new IIBEC branding. The Strategic Plan can be found at https://rci-online.org/rci-shares-new-strategic-plan/.

Q: What does the future hold? Can you share any long-term goals?

A: We want to strategically shape and position IIBEC so that the next generation of leaders can take the association to a significantly more impactful place in the building enclosure industry. We are working for greater diversity within the leadership pipeline to better reflect the changing workplace and improve the quality of our conversations. And, we’re working to implement a more global outreach, in order to both learn from the experience of others, and contribute to improving the quality of the built environment around the world.

Q: What are some of the educational resources and events IIBEC makes available to its members?

A: We offer numerous classes in the various disciplines related to the building enclosure, both on a national and a local level; we present a packed schedule of technical presentations at both our annual conventions and our building enclosure symposia, as well as at our biannual Canadian building enclosure symposia. Our members also regularly present technical education for other organizations within the design and construction industries. IIBEC chapters facilitate regular education programs through their chapter events, which expand internationally. A big step for IIBEC in 2020 is the partnership with the National Research Council of Canada to host the 2020 ICBEST conference.

Q: How does IIBEC help people who are not members of the organization, including people in such roles as end users, facility managers, school boards and others?

A: At the simplest level, IIBEC can provide contact information to building owners, managers, and design professionals for local consultant members who can assist with their projects. More strategically, by educating and advocating for our members, we are striving to improve the quality of the built environment for everyone. Through our advocacy initiatives, we have built recognition within the United States and Canada at federal, state and local levels.

Q: Where can people go for more information about the organization?

A: Our website (www.iibec.org) is a great place to start; one can find a lot of excellent information there about our organization and our members. Members themselves are also a great resource for information; most are happy to share about the benefits of IIBEC membership. Of course, our amazing IIBEC staff can also provide information related to most any aspect of the organization. Our chapters also hold local meetings and events, which is a great place for someone to learn about the resources IIBEC has both locally and nationally.

Fighting the Labor Shortage Means Developing a Dedicated Recruiting Program

Reaching out to local schools and colleges can be a great way for contractors to find prospective employees. Baker Roofing sponsors Shed Day, an event in which trade school students build sheds that are auctioned off. Photos: Baker Roofing

The roofing industry and the trades in general are facing a labor shortage of epic proportions and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. When the recession of 2008 hit, the construction industry lost 600,000 jobs. According to GlobeSt.com, a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79 percent of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by 0.5 percent annually for the next 10 years. This means competition for workers is fierce.

Baker Roofing, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has implemented an aggressive program to recruit the labor they need. According to Brendan Hale, regional operations officer and former director of career development and recruiting, the company had to shift its approach to recruiting. “We used to only advertise when we had open positions,” explains Hale. That method turned out to be challenging, and they recognized that they needed to try something different. Like a sales pipeline, they realized they needed to create a hiring pipeline in order to have a pool of candidates in the funnel when positions opened.

To build that pipeline, the company increased its online activities. “We’ve got a heavy presence online through social media, staying on top of the latest trends,” says Hale. “We are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat with the goal of publishing content that could be of interest to younger people.”

Baker Roofing maintains a strong presence on job boards too, with hiring ads rolling throughout the country to create awareness of their company and the opportunities. The company also relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from current employees, friends and family. “People choose to come here because they have confidence in the types of people who work here,” states Hale.

Partnering With Local Schools and Colleges

“We do a lot of outreach with local high schools, especially in Raleigh,” explains Hale. “We sponsor Shed Day where all throughout the state, the trade classes build these sheds that they auction off and our head of recruiting is on the board. We donate time, materials, and money and talk to the kids broadly about construction but more specifically about a career at Baker Roofing.”

Baker Roofing donates time and materials, and its employees help educate students about construction, the roofing industry and career opportunities at the company. Photos: Baker Roofing

Hale notes the company tries to have a corporate presence throughout the schools in their service areas and assists the local offices with building the relationships when they can. “We’re a big company with 22 offices. Right now, we’ve got a presence in the high schools in Charleston, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. Every year we try to grow that a little bit with the staff that we have and the resources we have.”

Baker Roofing is a big believer in internships for college students. The company hires interns throughout the company in accounting, recruiting, construction management and estimating. The students work for Baker Roofing over school breaks, and the company has programs in place so that they possibly can be hired full time.

“We are a growing company and we know that people are your most precious resource; if they spent the time with us and we feel they have the right cultural expectations, morals and ethics, we can typically find a spot for them here,” says Hale.

Veterans Are a Resource

Baker Roofing has also turned to the pool of veterans who are looking for work after leaving the service and reserves. “We have a large number of our employees who are veterans,” Hale says. “We have a registered apprenticeship program, so we try to appeal to veterans where they can get started with us, learn the industry from the ground up and utilize their GI Bill benefits.”

When Baker Roofing hires veterans and places them into the registered apprenticeship program, the veterans can receive money from their GI benefits in addition to the paycheck that they are receiving as a Baker Roofing employee. “As they are getting promotions and moving up within the company, the GI benefit begins to taper off. By the time they complete the three-year program, the idea is that they would be on their feet in a stable and long-term position,” explains Hale.

Starting a Strong Recruitment Program

Hale says it’s tough to share advice on how to start and build a strong recruitment program because there isn’t one simple answer. “For smaller contractors, it’s going to be harder. There isn’t a silver bullet out there that will solve all the problems,” says Hale. “It takes a variety of strategies. For a smaller contractor who may have a smaller team, it’s difficult to assign these kinds of tasks to someone who already has a full-time job doing something else.”

Baker Roofing has hired a number of veterans, who can start a registered apprenticeship program while also receiving a paycheck as a Baker Roofing employee. Photos: Baker Roofing

A full-time recruiter is ideal, according to Hale. “Ideally if a company has the capability, they need a champion who does this, and it needs to be their full-time focus. In order to sustain it someone has to constantly be working on it and thinking about it,” he says.

Benefits are important, too. Hale says that Baker Roofing employees have access to company benefits including health insurance, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, a 401(k) that offers a match. They also offer a clear guide for employees, so they understand what it takes to advance within their career, and they understand what the opportunities are within the company.

If contractors don’t have the manpower or resources to do it on their own, it’s possible to get involved with the many other organizations who are already looking at recruiting into the trades. SkillsUSA and Keep Craft Alive are two initiatives that may offer an opportunity for a roofing contractor or someone on the team to volunteer and help introduce the youth involved to the idea of a career in roofing.

Another area to think about tapping into for recruiting is the female workforce. There is a small percentage of women in the roofing industry overall, and the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) wants to change that. NWIR recently surpassed 1,200 members, and one of the organization’s efforts is the recruitment of women into the industry. NWIR is exploring initiatives that partner with organizations serving women in crisis to help those women get back on their feet and show them what a career in roofing could be like for them.

About the author: Karen L. Edwards is a marketing consultant for the roofing industry and director at the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3). For more information about the Roofing Technology Think Tank, visit www.rt3thinktank.com.

How to Reduce Labor Expense Without Sacrificing Quality

Photos: CertainTeed

Labor shortages have been a longstanding issue in the construction industry. With not as many skilled tradespeople as needed to do the work, roofing contractors have to work smart to stay competitive and maintain profits. Roofing manufacturers have adapted to the labor shortage by developing labor-saving products that are easier to master and install.

To help commercial roofing contractors make more informed product decisions, CertainTeed commissioned Trinity|ERD, a well-recognized building envelope consulting firm, to conduct “Factors Impacting Low-Slope Roofing: A National Labor Study,” which quantifies the labor differences between self-adhered modified bitumen, traditional bituminous systems and single-ply roof coverings. This independent, five-year low-slope labor study analyzed the installation of 45 different roofs with six popular roof covers in 18 different configurations in various regions of the country, isolating and timing product and task-level installation data, and observing where efficiencies or inefficiencies occurred. The study also combined observed labor data with national average labor and material costs to allow for a comparison of installed costs across 12 popular modified bitumen and singe-ply roof assemblies.

While the study confirms that product selection impacts labor efficiency and ultimately earnings, a contractor’s ability to turn a profit is multifaceted. In addition to product labor analysis, the study produced a wealth of information on how commercial contractors can improve their efficiency across any roof covering by optimizing their crew management, project management and estimating accuracy.

Here are some observations from the study that can improve the productivity of commercial roofing contractors, regardless of product selection:

Roofing manufacturers have adapted to the labor shortage by developing labor-saving products, including self-adhered modified bitumen roofing. Photos: CertainTeed

· Estimate for Temperature and Environment. Environmental factors associated with a project should always be factored into estimates. Productivity can slow down in both high and low temperatures. Cold weather often creates more work due to heating adhesives being required, longer periods for relaxing rolls, longer welding times of membranes (APP, SBS, TPO, PVC) and the need for cumbersome cold-weather clothing. Heat can often cause fatigue and the need to hydrate often, resulting in more break periods. Also, projects taking place at night are typically slower than daytime projects, as the area of work is constrained to lighted areas and tools are more difficult to find in the darkness.

· Improve Crew Communication. Roof cover installation is optimal when the installing crew works as a coordinated team. Crews that spoke multiple languages or crews with limited understanding of one another tend to have longer installation times.

· Specialize Crew Tasks. Productivity increased when multiple crew members carried out narrowly defined work activities to complete a task as a team, as opposed to a single man completing the full breadth of the task alone. For example, when hand-held screw guns were used, laborers that staged and placed screws/plates as one phase of work — and either dropped back to install or were followed by another crew member to install — were more efficient than a single individual carrying pouches of screws and plates.

· Stage Products With Foresight. Material movement and staging was a critical component in speed at application. Projects that were staged with easy material access for installers resulted in faster installations. Crews that relied on installers to stage their own materials required fewer personnel on the roof, but at the cost of slower overall installation times.

· Employ Strong Management. Rooftop supervision and direction – including effective management of roof loading, managing break times, staging materials for easy access, prefabrication (such as combining screws and plates) and staging materials which have already acclimated to the temperature/environment – played a pivotal role in faster installation times.

Environmental factors associated with a project should always be taken into account during extimates. Extreme weather can slow down productivity. Photos: CertainTeed

· Implement Quality Control. Across the country, the labor study observed a variety of quality control methods ranging from no in-application quality controls to extensive quality controls conducted by both foremen and in-house, third-party quality managers. A lack of in-application quality control reduces upfront labor, but increases the likelihood that a crew will need to return to correct issues found post-inspection. As with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

· Use and Manage Tools Wisely. The efficient use of tools and tool accessories has a measurable impact on installation times. For example, the installation of a bituminous cap membrane with a multi-torch cart (a.k.a. “dragon wagon”) was completed in 86 percent of the time required in comparison to a hand-held torch. Automated screw and plate installers provide a measurable time advantage; however, a knowledgeable mechanic or crew member who has rooftop access to spare parts is crucial in case the machine jams or malfunctions. Poorly maintained automatic welders (single-ply TPO/PVC) with inconsistent power and/or damaged parts (nozzles and silicone wheels) slow down productivity and hamper the quality of the application. Blowers used on roofs to clean surfaces and move large sections of membrane on a cushion of air were effective and increased productivity in multiple applications.

Increasing Efficiency

The ability of a crew to quickly and profitably install a low-slope roof system cannot be isolated to the specific type of roof cover being installed. A roofing crew’s efficiency is also impacted by climate, project parameters, tools, safety requirements, quality requirements and crew management. Roofing estimators and managers should clearly identify the factors impacting their crews, optimize productivity whenever possible and adjust their estimates accordingly. While project parameters and management apply a high degree of variability to every job, proper training, project management and crew management can significantly increase efficiency and help contractors extract the most profit from projects.

Understanding the many factors that impact crew efficiency can help contractors produce better results in less time. The labor study can help roofing contractors better understand labor efficiencies by product, more accurately estimate the labor associated with certain tasks and improve installation efficiency across all roof covering types.

For the full 20-page CertainTeed/Trinity|ERD study, including detailed analysis of labor data and installed cost for various roof assemblies, visit www.certainteed.com/laborstudy.

About the author: Abby Feinstein is Product Manager, Commercial Roofing for CertainTeed Corporation. For more information, visit www.certainteed.com.

Resilience in Health Care Facilities

The hurricanes that pounded portions of the East Coast of the United States in recent years left record-setting destruction in their wake. But they also taught valuable, if painful, lessons about resilience — what works, what doesn’t, and what’s needed to ensure that the built environment can withstand the predicted increase in these cataclysmic weather events.

These storms, as well as wildfires in the West and tornadoes, hailstorms and extreme flooding throughout the South and Midwest, also drove home the message that hospitals and other health care facilities face unique challenges during times of crisis. They must continue operating to ensure the wellbeing of their patients, meet the needs of staff members who are caring for those patients, and admit additional patients, many of whom may have been injured during the storm. Hospitals frequently house ongoing research and millions of dollars of scientific work could be destroyed if power is lost, or a lab is flooded. Health care facilities are often called on to serve as emergency command centers for entire communities, even during extended utility outages and transportation infrastructure disturbances, and provide such basic necessities as food and water. In fact, in a 2014 report, FEMA cited hospitals, along with public shelters, vital data storage centers, power generation and water and other utilities, and installations which produce, use, or store hazardous materials, as critical facilities “for which the effects of even a slight chance of disruption would be too great.” In other words, hospitals must be able to provide “a standalone level of resilience” independent of the surrounding community and its infrastructure.

The same FEMA report points out that demographics are working to make hospitals even more essential during a crisis, pointing out that the aging population of the United States “will place additional stresses on health care infrastructure.” Finally, while hospitals understand how to organize for the unexpected, other “sub-acute” residential health care settings such as nursing homes, dialysis centers, rehabilitation centers and retail pharmacies tend to be less focused on the stresses that an emergency could put on their systems. Nonetheless, these non-hospital settings need to plan for worst-case scenarios and fully assess their physical vulnerabilities.

Given the increasing frequency of cataclysmic natural events, there has been a growing awareness that rebuilding health care facilities in the wake of a storm is not a viable approach: to fend off the impact of future storms, it will be necessary to incorporate increased structural resilience to protect both patients and staff during extreme events. In many instances, hospitals have responded, ensuring that their built environment incorporates features that were unheard of even a decade ago.

The Importance of the Roof

In any building, the continued functioning of the roof is essential to protect the interior from water or wind damage, and to maintain a comfortable level or heating or cooling for the interior space. In a health care setting, especially when flooding is an issue, the roof must perform additional essential tasks such as serving as a potential location for evacuation of patients or delivery of essential supplies and personnel. For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina at Tulane Medical Center, the hospital’s engineering staff was called on to fashion a makeshift helipad on a parking garage roof to evacuate 200 patients and 1,500 personnel beginning two days after the storm, as generators ran out of fuel or failed and it became apparent that no fuel would arrive. Patients were transported in passenger pickup trucks, as ambulances were too tall to access the parking deck.

Additionally, roofs may be required to support heating and cooling equipment. At Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, opened in 2013, all critical mechanical and electrical infrastructure was placed on the roof and above flood elevations to minimize possibility of interruption. In fact, hospitals in flood-prone regions are being planned and designed “upside-down” with critical infrastructure on rooftops and electromechanical distribution systems fed from the roof downward.

To help the health care sector better prepare for increasingly extreme weather, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has produced the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, devoting one specific section to Building Health Care Sector Resilience. The guide was developed through a public-private partnership with the health care industry and provides an introductory document as well as a suite of online tools and resources that showcase “emerging best practices for developing sustainable and climate-resilient health care facilities.” The guide also provides case studies of organizations that are finding innovative ways to deal with the threats posed by extreme weather events.

The toolkit also provides a checklist to help gauge the resilience of a building, focusing in part on conducting a critical building inventory. Questions specific to the roof, or partly pertaining to it, include:

  • Have you compiled building envelope and performance vulnerabilities for each critical building?
  • Have you reviewed building code design baselines against extreme weather intensities (wind speeds, rainfall volumes, etc.) for each critical building?
  • Have you incorporated expected climate change data over time into building vulnerability assessments?
  • What are the design wind loads for roofs?
  • What are the design snow loads for roofs? Have rooftop structures and equipment (and their attachments) been reviewed for anticipated wind speeds?
  • Have rooftop structures and equipment (and their attachments) been reviewed for extreme precipitation and/or hail vulnerabilities?

A Case in Point

As with most issues related to roofing, the people who have been on the front lines, helping to create a resilient system, are the real experts. Chuck Anderson is Construction Program Director at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. When Hurricane Ike struck in September 2008, the hospital, encompassing 100 buildings, suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage. Anderson has been one of the people charged with ensuring that the hospital campus, located on a vulnerable low-lying barrier island, is protected from similar future losses. The hospital campus is also required to be self-sustaining for two weeks during and after a storm. As far as priorities for building a resilient roof, Anderson says, “Number one, it is the product. Number two, the installation.” Anderson advocates for a fully adhered system. “You can have the best product in the world, and if it’s not applied correctly, that’s going to blow off.”

Anderson also points out that it’s essential to use a membrane that will withstand “any little blowing object that might put a hole in your roof.” But ultimately, along with state-of-the-art materials and installation methods, Anderson says that additional care is needed; when a storm is predicted, he and his staff walk the roofs to clear them of any debris that could create damage if it becomes windborne. High-tech roofing and low-tech, step-by-step attention to detail — a winning combination to help protect the built environment against increasingly destructive weather events.

To access the U.S Climate Resilience Toolkit and its guide, “Enhancing Health Care Resilience for a Changing Climate”, go to https://toolkit.climate.gov/image/662.

For information on incorporating resilience into a roofing system, go to http://epdmtheresilientroof.org.

About the Author: Louisa Hart is the director of communications for the Washington-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA). For more information, visit www.epdmroofs.org.

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.