Roof Sections of Cosmetics Manufacturing Facility Get Expert Makeover With Cold-applied System, SPF and Smoke-vent Skylights

American International Industries manufactures cosmetics at the facility, and great care had to be taken to ensure no dust or fragments would fall from above and contaminate the products. Photo courtesy of Highland Commercial Roofing.

American International Industries manufactures cosmetics at the facility, and great care had to be taken to ensure no dust or fragments would fall from above and contaminate the products. Photo courtesy of Highland Commercial Roofing.

American International Industries was faced with a conundrum. The roof diaphragm on its 1968, 210,000-square-foot, wood-frame manufacturing facility in Los Angeles had deflection caused by structural settlement, but a full roof replacement was not an option.

“The roof was built without a substantial amount of pitch to it and the plywood deck in between the main purlins had settled over time,” recalls Rick Cunningham, president of Highland Commercial Roofing in Baldwin Park, Calif. “Removing the existing roof and deck and restructuring a roof of this size to return it to its original slope was financially unfeasible.”

American International Industries contracted Ernest Orchard, owner of Irvine, Calif.-based Orchard Roofing and Waterproofing Consultants as a project consultant and owner’s representative who closely monitored the job. Orchard selected a reinforced fluid-applied roof restoration system and brought Highland Commercial Roofing into the project because of the company’s specialization with the process and its expertise in commercial flat roofing in the Southwest. (Highland Commercial Roofing has offices in the Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Phoenix areas.)

American International Industries restored sections of its roof with a cold-applied system, spray polyurethane expanding foam and smoke-vent skylights. Photo courtesy of SKYCO Skylights.

American International Industries restored sections of its roof with a cold-applied system, spray polyurethane expanding foam and smoke-vent skylights. Photo courtesy of SKYCO Skylights.

According to Ernest Orchard, another critical consideration in selecting a roofing solution had to do with the activities inside the building. “American International Industries manufactures cosmetics here and we couldn’t have any dust or fragments falling from above into the product,” he says. “In addition, the installation was to take place over the winter while the facility remained operational, and we couldn’t have the building open to weather.”

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There Is Evidence Cool Roofs Provide Benefits to Buildings in Climate Zones 4 through 8

FIGURE 1: Reflective roof requirements in ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC only apply in Climate Zones 1 through 3, shown here on the ASHRAE Climate Zone Map. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

FIGURE 1: Reflective roof requirements in ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC only apply in Climate Zones 1 through 3, shown here on the ASHRAE Climate Zone Map. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

Reflective roofs are a tried and true way to improve building energy efficiency and comfort, generate net energy savings and help mitigate summer urban heat islands. Reflective roofs work by reflecting solar energy off the roof surface, rather than absorbing the energy as heat that can be transmitted into the building and surrounding community.

The simple act of switching from a dark to a light-colored roof surface has a number of benefits. Buildings protected by these types of roofs require less energy to cool and help building owners and residents save money. Cool roofs on buildings without air conditioning can save lives during heat waves by lowering indoor temperatures. Cooler city air is safer to breathe and less polluted, which makes cities more livable and less vulnerable during heat waves. Increasing the reflectivity of urban surfaces can also offset the warming effect of green- house gases already in the atmosphere and help us address the challenges of climate change. Taken together, these benefits are worth billions of dollars to the growing number of people that live and work in U.S. cities.

The energy-savings case for cool roofs in warm climates is clear. Widely adopted model building-code systems, ASHRAE and the IECC, address roof reflectivity. ASHRAE 90.1-1999 added a credit for highly reflective roofs with IECC allowing compliance via ASHRAE in 2003. ASHRAE 90.1-2010 added reflectivity requirements for new and replacement commercial roofs in Climate Zones 1 through 3. IECC added the same requirements in its 2012 version. (Figure 1 shows the ASHRAE climate zone map for the U.S.)

There is, however, an ongoing debate about whether cool roofs deliver net energy benefits in northern climates that experience cold winters and warm to hot summers (Climate Zones 4 through 8). Do reflective roofs remain beneficial as the cold weather season kicks in? The same properties that allow reflective roofs to keep buildings cooler in the summer may also cause them to make buildings colder in the winter. Theoretically, buildings with cool roofs could require more energy to reach a comfortable temperature in winter—a consequence known as the “winter heating penalty.” Furthermore, building codes tend to require more roof insulation in colder climates than warmer climates, potentially reducing the energy-efficiency benefits of roof surface reflectivity.

FIGURE 2A: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs on newly constructed, code-compliant buildings with all-electric HVAC. SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

FIGURE 2A: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs on newly constructed, code-compliant buildings with all-electric HVAC.
SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

The “winter heating penalty” and the impact of insulation are considerations when installing reflective roofs in some cold climates, but their negative effects are often greatly exaggerated. The sun is generally at a lower angle and days are shorter in winter months than summer months. In fact, in northern locations winter solar irradiance is only 20 to 35 percent of what is experienced in summer months, which means the sun has a reduced impact on roof surface temperature during the winter. Heating loads and expenditures are typically more pronounced in evenings, whereas the benefit of a darker roof in winter is mostly realized during daylight hours. Many commercial buildings require space cooling all year because of human activity or equipment usage, thereby negating the little—if any—heating benefit achieved by a dark roof.

Two new studies, along with decades of real-world examples from the marketplace, indicate that reflective roofs are an effective net energy (and money) saver even in our coldest cities.

SNOW’S IMPACT

In a study recently published in Energy and Buildings, researchers from Concordia University in Montreal evaluated the energy-consumption impact of adding cool roofs to a number of retail and commercial buildings in Anchorage, Alaska; Milwaukee; Montreal; and Toronto. The researchers looked at older, less insulated building prototypes, as well as newer buildings built with code-compliant levels of insulation. Unlike earlier work evaluating the impact of roof reflectivity on building energy consumption in cold climates, this new analysis also accounted for the impact of snow on the roof during winter months.

FIGURE 2B: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs installed on older buildings with all- electric HVAC. SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

FIGURE 2B: Annual energy-cost savings ($1 per 100 square meters) from cool roofs installed on older buildings with all- electric HVAC.
SOURCE: Energy and Buildings

Snow has two impacts on the roof that are relevant to understanding the true impact of roof surface reflectivity on energy consumption. First, snow helps insulate the roof. As a porous medium with high air content, snow conducts less heat than soil. This effect generally increases with snow density and thickness. Second, snow is white and, therefore, reflective. At a thickness of about 4 inches, snow will turn even a dark roof into a highly reflective surface (approximately 0.6 to 0.9 solar reflectance).

When snow is factored in, the benefits of cool roofs in cold climates be- come much clearer. Figure 2a shows the net energy savings and peak electricity reduction with and without snow for cool roofs installed on newly constructed, code-compliant buildings, assuming all-electric HVAC. Figure 2b shows savings from cool roofs installed on existing, older vintage buildings. The paper, available from the journal Energy and Buildings also includes results with gas HVAC systems.

INSULATION’S EFFECTS

Another argument often heard against reflective roofing in cold climates is that buildings in northern climates tend to have higher levels of roof insulation that reduce or negate the energy-savings impact of roof surface color. A new field study and model analysis of black and white roof membranes over various levels of insulation by the City University of New York and Princeton University and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, the latter two of Princeton, N.J., clearly rebuts the “insulation versus reflectivity” tradeoff.

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Choosing the Right Roof Coatings for Substrates Can Extend Roof Service Lives, Cool Temperatures and Save Energy

Roof coatings are a fast-growing market segment in the roofing industry—and it makes good sense why that is the case. Application of a roof coating on a new or existing roof can provide
added durability, extend roof service life, save on energy costs, and avoid the hassle and expense of a full tear-off and replacement.

COATING TYPES

Roof coatings come in many formulations and are appropriate for installation over all roof system types. The first question many have is which coating is appropriate for which substrate?

A reflective coating has been applied to a hybrid asphaltic roof. PHOTO: GAF

A reflective coating has been applied to a hybrid asphaltic roof.
PHOTO: GAF

Coatings are most broadly divided into asphaltic- and polymer-based materials. Asphaltic-based coatings are solvent-based “cut backs” or water-based emulsions. They can be black or aluminized. They have the ability to be used in cold and inclement weather. Aluminized coatings are used when a reflective and ultraviolet-, or UV-, stable asphalt coating is needed.

The most common polymer-based coatings include acrylics, polyurethanes and silicone coatings. Acrylic water-based coatings are ideal for high UV environments where a reflective roof is desired. They can be colored but generally are sold in white, tan and gray. Many specialized versions are made to be compatible with specific substrates. Polyurethane coatings are typically solvent-based and come in two main types, aromatic and aliphatic. Urethanes have good mechanical properties and high abrasion resistance. They are suggested for use in hail-prone regions or where a roof is exposed to heavy foot traffic.

Silicone coatings, like acrylic coatings, perform well in high UV environments where a reflective roof is desired. Often silicone is used in locations where rain is a daily occurrence or if the roof is often wet and experiences excessive amounts of ponded water. In addition, butyl, fluoropolymer, PMMA, polyester, STPE, SEBS and styrene-acrylics can be used to formulate roof coatings.

Coating thickness (dry film thickness) has an effect on performance. In general, thicker coatings will have increased service life and will provide additional durability regardless of coating type. Also very important is the specification written for each project. Every project is different and every specification should be tailored to every project to ensure the correct coating and application is appropriate for the roof and coating type. Coating manufacturers’ specifications should be the basis for every coating project and be coordinated with project specifications.

SUBSTRATES

Asphaltic-based coatings are most commonly used on built-up roof (BUR) and modified bitumen (MB) membranes; they are rarely, if ever, used on single-ply roof membranes. All types of polymer-based coatings are used on BUR, MB, metal and single-ply roofs. There is information to assist with the evaluation and preparation of the substrate in the ASTM standard titled, “Standard Guide for Evaluation and Preparation of Roof Membranes for Coating Application”.

From a material-quality standpoint, it is important to use products that meet or exceed their ASTM material standards, which are listed in the International Building Code and International Residential Code. Meeting the building-code requirements provides the minimum safeguards for materials used for construction.

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Today’s Roofs Provide Additional Square Footage for Developers and Owners

How much traffic can a roof system bear? The fact is, live loads on roofs are getting much bigger as building developers and owners seek to allow more indoor-outdoor uses and rooftop amenities, such as seating areas, gardens and even fire pits and pools, which draw people to the roof. Plus, the dead load may be increasing thanks to those living material installations, such as planters and vegetative roof gardens. These assemblies usually require or hold water—adding to the dead load—as well as frequent maintenance and inspections, which mean a few more people (and more live load).

Muzeiko, a 35,000-square-foot LEED Gold children’s science discovery center in Sofia, Bulgaria, includes a rooftop science play area with a lush green roof, climbing wall, rain garden, outdoor activity space and an amphitheater. PHOTO: ROLAND HALBE, COURTESY LEE H. SKOLNICK ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN PARTNERSHIP

Muzeiko, a 35,000-square-foot LEED Gold children’s science discovery center in Sofia, Bulgaria, includes a rooftop science play area with a lush green roof, climbing wall, rain garden, outdoor activity space and an amphitheater. PHOTO: ROLAND HALBE, COURTESY LEE H. SKOLNICK ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN PARTNERSHIP


“We’ve known the benefits of a green roof from a water-management point of view for some time,” says Joshua Zinder, AIA, principal of JZA+D, Princeton, N.J., noting that more than 70 percent of the water that hits the roof is absorbed. “Increasingly, we see the roof as an opportunity for generating revenue or enhancing the value of the building. One of the ways we’re now helping developers reposition older office and industrial properties is by determining if we can create roof farms or indoor-outdoor spaces not only on the ground floor, but also on the roof planes.”

The case of the rooftop garden with public access is a growing trend, too, and “one must ensure that the roof structure has the necessary structural capacity to support rooftop activity,” notes Kelly Luckett, author of Green Roof Construction and Maintenance. Local codes vary for live loads and dead loads, he explains, and the project team calculates the green roof assembly as part of the total dead load. “Water in excess of that which saturates the growth media, snow and people visiting the green roof are all considered part of the live load of the structure,” Luckett adds.

Just as important, the roofing system has to resist the wear and tear of the live loading. The three main concerns for exposed structural elements, such as roofs, balconies and terraces, are protection from weathering, water ingress and environmental damage. Pedestrian walkways must also ensure long-term durability.

A look at the latest trends in “activating rooftops” reveals even more reasons for roofing contractors, architects and facility owners to look more carefully at specification documents and installation methods for these live-load roof zones.

A new Department of Sanitation complex in New York City, designed by Dattner Architects with WXY Architecture + Urban Design, both of New York, features a dynamic façade of moving metal fins and a 1.5-acre planted roof, which contribute to the LEED Gold operations. PHOTO: WADE ZIMMERMAN, COURTESY WXY ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN

A new Department of Sanitation complex in New York City, designed by Dattner Architects with WXY Architecture + Urban Design, both of New York, features a dynamic façade of moving metal fins and a 1.5-acre planted roof, which contribute to the LEED Gold operations. PHOTO: WADE ZIMMERMAN, COURTESY WXY ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN

Skylife and Community

For residential projects with rooftop terraces, careful specifying and installation of green roof assemblies is critical. “We like using liquid membrane roof and extensive green-roof systems, such as sedum carpet,” says Andrew Franz, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Andrew Franz Architect PLLC, New York, adding that the systems work well because the drainage mat is modular, lightweight, and easy to install and adjust—something that is important on uniquely shaped urban rooftop terraces.

Recent projects by Franz include a 2,800-square-foot garden terrace for a family of four in Manhattan. A bluestone floor extends from the dining area to the terrace’s softscape herb garden, further blurring the boundary between in-doors and out. “The green roofing system also includes a protection mat, which protects the roof membrane, a filter sheet of very lightweight soil to protect the drainage mat and the sedum carpet,” Franz says.

Other recent projects with active green roofs demonstrate the benefits of strong PVC membranes, such as at the modern 93 Bright Street townhouse in Jersey City, N.J., designed and developed by Jorge Mastropietro, AIA, whose firm JMA is based in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Another example, called Trouthouse, designed and built by the Brooklyn-based thread collective, is a showcase of “passive design” principles that reduce energy use, recapture water and even allow for a roof-mounted shade structure that doubles as photovoltaic panels.

The new LEED Gold-certified facility for Gateway Community College in New Haven, Conn., was designed with a vegetative roof to create a new community area on the top floor. According to construction manager Providence, R.I.-based Dimeo Construction, which worked with Providence-based Gilbane Building Co. and the New York office of architect Perkins+Will on the project, the “multi-level student gathering area steps up from the ground floor to a rooftop garden. The green roof also supports photovoltaic panels on a special framing system.”

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Daylighting Can Create Significant Energy Savings and Human Benefits

Daylighting is the practice of placing skylights or windows on a building so during the day, natural light provides effective internal lighting. This strategy allows natural sunlight to illuminate the interior space of a building without the need to rely exclusively on electrical lighting during the day. Electrical lighting can account for as much as 40 percent of power consumption in many commercial buildings, meaning reducing such loads can significantly lower energy usage. One means to lowering energy use is to install prismatic skylights and light tubes to increase natural daylighting. Although there are many myths surrounding skylights, evidence shows they not only improve energy efficiency, they also provide multiple benefits to people living and working within daylit facilities.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Skylight Types

There are a number of different skylight categories on the market today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Prismatic skylights are the most widely used because they allow for the most diffused and evenly distributed light. Other, non-diffused skylights can create hotspots within the building and tend to have poor U-values with high solar-heat-gain coefficients that decrease the thermal efficiency of the skylight. Skylight spacing should be 1 1/2 times the distance from the floor to the underside of the roof. (To learn more, read “Modular Skylight Systems: Best Practices for Designing Skylights with Suspended Ceilings”.

The materials used for skylights also vary. Polycarbonates have the best impact resistance and are the most hurricane and burglar proof. Some acrylic diffusers can yellow with age. Lastly, glass skylights are commonly used in residential applications and large, custom jobs that vary widely depending upon the customer’s specifications.

Different skylight manufacturers offer various alternative designs to achieve improved daylighting. One such alternate design is a tubular skylight or “light pipe”. Tubular designs are great for drop ceilings, because the tube reflects light down through a diffuser at the bottom of the fixture and ends up looking just like a normal lighting fixture on the interior of the building.

Saving Money

Although skylights can be installed at any time on a flat or steep-slope roof, significant savings can be realized when you install skylights during reroofing. The cost of installation decreases because manpower is already onsite, safety is in place, and there is significant reduction in overall time and labor leading to more cost-efficiency. With larger skylights, installations can be spread out over the roof and, ultimately, that saves money, as well.

By leveraging relationships with skylight manufacturers and lighting controllers’ manufacturers, roofing contractors may be able to access additional skylight models, better pricing and longer-term warranties.

To maximize the benefits of a daylighting strategy, the building owner should consider combining new skylights with new interior lighting controls. Photo-sensor technology incorporated with skylights can further conserve energy by actively sensing when artificial lighting is not needed.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

Daylighting Benefits

Environmentally, daylighting reduces the load on power plants, lowers greenhouse-gas emissions and lessens air and water pollution resulting from byproducts of electricity generation. The payback for energy savings and reduction of electricity is typically one to two years. For customers seeking to achieve LEED certification, a green-building program administered by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, daylighting is another green solution. Skylights can contribute to a number of LEED credits by optimizing energy performance, using recycled materials, and increasing daylight and views.

One of the most documented outcomes of increasing natural daylighting is an aesthetically pleasing environment in which to live, work and interact that improves productivity and personal satisfaction while decreasing energy costs associated with maintaining that facility. A reduction in energy costs and increase in productivity for manufacturing and office environments mean the payback period on daylighting investments can be relatively short. Schools also experience improved test scores. Hospitals see speedier recovery times and retail stores see an increase in sales all linked to increased daylighting. Daylighting can add to the value of a building, and daylit stores see an average of 5.5 percent increase in sales relative to stores without daylighting, according to “Daylight & Retail Sales”, a California Energy Commission report.

Daylighting Myths

The old-school thinking about day-lighting is that it is expensive and increases the chance of roof leaks around the skylights. Some building maintenance staff members do not want to deal with skylights. However, once a sample prismatic skylight is installed, the same maintenance staff usually becomes enthusiastic about the new lighting source. As for roof leaks, prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Another myth is that with natural sunlight from the skylights, the building will be too hot. That’s not true because there is a reflective lens on top and an opaque lens on bottom. Light is brought in from all different angles and mitigates heat transfer into the building.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs. Once the CentiMark Corp. team installs a sample skylight on a roof, our customers typically get really excited and the interest level increases. Customers then rethink skylights and the lighting inside their buildings.

PHOTOS: Centimark Corp.

A Florida Home Educates Homeowners and Building Professionals and Green Building and Energy Efficiency

Many people visiting Shalimar, Fla., don’t want to miss one of the town’s attractions: a sprawling European-style waterfront estate on Lorraine Bayou. Featuring a 4,000-square-foot main house; 1,600-square-foot carriage house; and 1,200-square-foot guesthouse, the estate offers luxurious finishes and phenomenal views all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The EcoSmart Demonstration Home in Shalimar, Fla., is built for durability and energy independence. It features a Gerard Roofing stone-coated barrel-vault metal roofing system that slashes energy costs and adds visual appeal.

The EcoSmart Demonstration Home in Shalimar, Fla., is built for durability and energy independence. It features a Gerard Roofing stone-coated barrel-vault metal roofing system that slashes energy costs and adds visual appeal.


But these qualities only hint at its uniqueness. The structures are built to be highly secure against intrusion, resistant to storms sweeping off the Gulf and able to create their own electricity. All interior lighting, exterior lighting and dock lights are LED lighting fixtures using minimal electricity.

The crowning touch is a stone-coated, barrel-vault metal roofing system that not only resists 170-mph winds, but saves energy, as well. No wonder the electric bill for this three-structure estate is $47 and its gas bill is $14 per month.

Model Estate

This estate, the EcoSmart Demonstration Home, is about 50 miles east of Pensacola. This is the second eco-friendly showcase house I have built; the first eco-friendly showcase house was built in nearby Destin. The Shalimar home is open to visitors as a working educational model of an entirely green residence.

It’s a home but actually set up as a business. I can educate people about the top green products, teaching them about how they work and the benefits of saving energy and money. The demonstration home is designed to allow us to educate people first, and then talk about products.

The crowning touch is a stone-coated, barrel-vault metal roofing system that not only resists 170-mph winds, but saves energy, as well. No wonder the electric bill for this three-structure estate is $47 and its gas bill is $14 per month.

The crowning touch is a stone-coated, barrel-vault metal roofing system that not only resists 170-mph winds, but saves energy, as well. No wonder the electric bill for this three-structure estate is $47 and its gas bill is $14 per month.


Located at 781 Boulevard of the Champions, the EcoSmart Demonstration Home is set near the water on a “point lot” overlooking Lorraine Bayou with extraordinary waterway accessibility to Destin, Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The home is perfect for the site because we have views of everything. On the point, there are barges and sailing clubs coming up. We’re looking behind the bayou to Destin, and behind that is the Gulf. We have great breezes off the Gulf and bayou. We get the trade winds up here; that’s the great thing about this part of Florida.

EcoSmart aims its sustainable products message not just at industry professionals but environmentally minded homebuyers, as well. We’re teaching industry professionals, like architects, probuilders, residential and commercial developers, and consumers interested in eco-friendly construction and sustainability. We also teach university and school groups. We have had officials and executives of Southern Company, which is called Gulf Power here, come by several times to advise us. They’re very excited because the home is green.

Visitors aren’t required to pay an admission fee, but there are requirements to touring the EcoSmart Demonstration Home. It’s open by appointment only to people who have a current project and aren’t just looking. We ask people to bring their builders and architects with them because if we’re educating all of them at once, we’re saving time. We’re getting them started and thinking along the same lines.

Building the Home

Before construction commenced on the EcoSmart Demonstration Home in2009, my team undertook a full year of site work. That endeavor included the installation of an 11-foot-high, 210-foot-long seawall and stepped-down concrete footers 2-feet wide and 2- to 4-feet deep for security purposes.

PHOTOS: Gerard Roofing

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White Paper Identifies Appropriate Mean Reference Temperature Ranges and R-values of Polyiso Roof Insulation within this Range

A number of recent articles have explored the relationship between temperature and R-value with an emphasis on the apparent reduction in R-value demonstrated by polyisocyanurate (or polyiso) roof insulation at cold temperatures. The science behind this apparent R-value decrease is relatively simple: All polyiso foam contains a blowing agent, which is a major component of the insulation performance provided by the polyiso foam. As temperatures decrease, all blowing agents will start to condense, and at some point this will result in a marginally reduced R-value. The point at which this occurs will vary to some extent for different polyiso foam products.

a mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F.

A mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F.

Because of this phenomenon, building researchers have attempted to determine whether the nominal R-value of polyiso insulation should be reduced in colder climates. Because of the obvious relationship between temperature and blowing-agent condensation, this certainly is a reasonable area of inquiry. However, before determining nominal R-value for polyiso in colder climates, it is critical to establish the appropriate temperature at which R-value testing should be conducted.

TO DETERMINE the appropriate temperature for R-value testing of polyiso, it is important to review how R-value is tested and measured. Figure 1 provides a simplified illustration of a “hot box” apparatus used to test and measure the R-value of almost all thermal-insulating materials. The insulation sample is placed within the box, and a temperature differential is maintained on opposing sides of the box. To generate accurate R-value information, the temperature differential between the opposing sides of the box must be relatively large—typically no less than 40 F according to current ASTM standards. The results of this type of test are then reported based on the average between these two temperature extremes, which is referred to as mean reference temperature. As shown in Figure 1, a mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F. In a similar manner, a mean reference temperature of 20 F is based on a hot-side temperature of 40 F and a cold-side temperature of 0 F.

NOW THAT we’ve had an opportunity to discuss the details of R-value testing, let’s apply the principles of the laboratory to the real-world situation of an actual building. Just like our laboratory hot box, buildings also have warm and cold sides. In cold climates, the warm side is located on the interior and the cold side is located on the exterior. If we assume that the interior is being heated to 68 F during the winter, what outdoor temperature will be required to obtain a mean reference temperature of 40 F or 20 F? Figure 2 provides a schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

As illustrated in Figure 2, the necessary outdoor temperature needed to attain a 40 F mean reference temperature would be 12 F while an outdoor temperature as low as -28 F would be needed to obtain a 20 F mean reference temperature. And herein lies a glaring problem with many of the articles published so far about the relationship between temperature and R-value. Although a 20 F or 40 F “reference temperature” may sound reasonable for measuring R-value, average real-world conditions required to obtain this reference temperature are only available in the most extreme cold climates in the world. With the exception of the northernmost parts of Canada and the Arctic, few locations experience an average winter temperature lower than 20 F.

schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

A Schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

To help illustrate the reality of average winter temperature in North America, a recent white paper published by the Bethesda, Md.-based Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), “Thermal Resistance and Temperature: A Report for Building Design Professionals”, which is available at Polyiso.org, identifies these average winter temperatures by climate zone using information from NOAA Historical Climatology studies. As shown in Table 1, page 2, the PIMA white paper identifies that actual average winter temperature varies from a low of 22 F in the coldest North American climate zone (ASHRAE Zone 7) to a high of 71 F in the warmest climate zone (ASHRAE Zone 1).

In addition to identifying a realistic winter outdoor average temperature for all major North American climate zones, Table 1 also identifies the appropriate mean reference temperature for each zone when a 68 F indoor design temperature is assumed. Rather than being as low as 40 F or even 20 F as sometimes inferred in previous articles, this mean winter reference temperature varies from a low of no less than 45 F in the coldest climate zone to above 50 F in the middle climate zones in North America.

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Asphalt Roofing Provides Comprehensive Weather Protection for a Luxury Condominium

Working with the unique variables of a region and its climate poses a significant challenge to roofing contractors. Installing a roof system that looks beautiful and can stand up to ice, snow and freezing temperatures takes an expertise that only comes with experience. This is the case in the snowy and picturesque mountains of Park City, Utah. The city is a winter haven for skiers who vacation there, but the extended snow and cold season can deliver a beating to a roof.

The concrete tile roof and poorly ventilated deck were causing major problems for the building owner, not to mention the residents who live and rent there. Heat was escaping through the roof, causing the snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves.

The concrete tile roof and poorly ventilated deck were causing major problems for the building owner, not to mention the residents who live and rent there. Heat was escaping through the roof, causing the snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves.


The Grand Lodge at Deer Valley Resort, a luxury condominium development at one of North America’s top-ranked ski resorts, sits at an elevation of 9,000 feet in the mountainous area. Along with the breathtaking views comes an average annual snowfall of 350 inches. As a result, the 40,000-square-foot concrete tile roof of the lodge had begun to fail after only six years of intense weather and needed to be replaced immediately.

The concrete tile roof and poorly ventilated deck were causing major problems for the building owner, not to mention the residents who live and rent there. Heat was escaping through the roof, causing the snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves. Dangerous icicles would form, and noisy chainsaws were frequently needed to cut through the ice on the 5-story building. In 2013, the owner of the condominium decided to completely redesign the roofing system. IronClad Exteriors Inc., a Sandy, Utah-based roofing company had successfully installed roofs for Deer Valley in the past and was contacted by Deer Valley Resort Management to consult on the new design.

“Due to insufficient insulation and poor ventilation on the existing roof, ice dams were forming, tiles were cracking and the roof was falling apart,” says Eric Kircher, owner of IronClad Exteriors. “There was an architect involved in redesigning the roof … . I was asked to take a look at the design, and I recommended an asphalt shingle roof instead.

Kircher advised that a full asphalt roofing system with proper insulation and moisture protection would be able to withstand the harsh weather of the ski resort.

“Asphalt was the ideal material for the reroof for reasons that involve aesthetics, safety, and the long-term health and viability of the roof,” he notes. “I recommended a shake style because it really fit the architecture and look of the roof while being able to protect the building and residents from the weather conditions.”

Over the span of six months, IronClad Exteriors tore off the tile roof and installed a system they had used many times to help homeowners in the area protect their homes from ice and snow.

Over the span of six months, IronClad Exteriors tore off the tile roof and installed a system they had used many times to help homeowners in the area protect their homes from ice and snow.

Installation

Over the span of six months, IronClad Exteriors tore off the tile roof and installed a system they had used many times to help homeowners in the area protect their homes from ice and snow. FlintBoard ISO NB (Nail Base) Composite Polyisocyanurate/OSB Roof insulation was installed over the plywood deck, followed by a 3- by 10-inch fascia board. WinterGuard HT advanced waterproofing underlayment and DiamondDeck High Performance Synthetic Underlayment were then added to provide important moisture resistance. Finally, the Presidential Shake TL asphalt shingles provided a beautiful look that matched the lodge’s breathtaking surroundings. The project was completed in November 2014.

The Grand Lodge’s new asphalt roof also contains a unique feature that sets it apart in form and function. IronClad installed 11,000 copper snow guards that offer another layer of weather protection. Snow freezes around the copper pieces and keeps it from sliding down the roof to form dangerous ice dams at the eaves. Lodge residents no longer have to walk underneath potentially hazardous icicles or listen to the sounds of manlifts and chainsaws that are used to remove them.

“The roofing system we designed had the unique ability to withstand that type of cold environment,” Kircher notes. “There will be no heat loss contributing to ice and snow on the eaves, and the insulation protects the interior of the lodge. These are high-end condominiums with finished ceilings and no attic space at the top where you can put more insulation, so the insulation had to be installed on the existing roof deck to prevent ice dams.”

The installation process went smoothly despite the challenges brought on by Park City’s weather. Snow can begin to fall as early as September and lasts through the spring, providing little time for construction projects to take place. Fortunately, IronClad had extensive experience with the roofing systems needed in Park City.

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It Is the Roofing Industry’s Responsibility to Help Clients Recognize the Importance of Roofing Insulation

In many cases, commercial roofing insulation is the most expensive component of a new roof assembly. Often, building owners do not understand how the insulation selection made today is really a long-term financial decision. The advice a roofing contractor provides to a building owner regarding insulation is critical to helping the building owner make the correct decision from a technical-roofing perspective and business-decision perspective. Many questions we typically hear from prospective low-slope commercial roofing clients revolve around the insulation to be utilized in their new roof system.

  • What is the best type of insulation?
  • How much insulation is most appropriate?
  • What are the advantages of certain types of insulation?

As with everything else in roofing, there is no “one size fits all” insulation solution. There are endless permutations of building use, geography, investment-time horizon, and other factors that can and should influence the amount and type of insulation used in roof systems. However, in most cases, we’ve found that polyisocyanurate insulation is the optimal insulation for a roof system.

Polyisocyanurate insulation provides a substrate for the waterproofing membrane and thermal resistance.

Polyisocyanurate insulation provides a substrate for the waterproofing membrane and thermal resistance.

THE ADVANTAGES OF POLYISOCYANURATE

From a purely technical roofing perspective, polyisocyanurate insulation in a low-slope roof assembly performs two basic functions. First, it provides a substrate for the waterproofing membrane. Second, the polyisocyanurate insulation provides thermal resistance.

There are all sorts of ancillary benefits and purposes for the polyisocyanurate insulation, but the primary function of the insulation is simply to provide the substrate for the roof system and to complete the thermal envelope on the top of the building.

Much like concrete work, or any other kind of construction for that matter, the performance of a roof system is 100 percent correlated to the substrate upon which it is placed. The math is simple: the better the substrate, the better the roof will perform.

The current industry standard for polyisocyanurate insulation comes with an organic facer and a published density of 20 psi. The standard polyisocyanurate insulation is the most widely specified and utilized insulation in the industry by a wide margin.

Standard polyisocyanurate insulation is widely used, frankly, because it works well. Polyisocyanurate provides several attributes that make it the first choice in most commercial roof assemblies.

PHOTOS: BLOOM ROOFING

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A Solar Installer Explains the Many Ways Roofing Contractors Can Be Involved in Solar Installations

The solar-power industry has changed dramatically in the past five years. Products and manufacturers have come and gone; tax incentives have become less attractive; and requirements for utilities to maintain a certain percentage of their energy portfolio from renewable sources are not enough to help the market in most places. Despite these negatives, unique financing mechanisms and the remarkable decrease in the cost of solar panels keep the industry booming. These ups and downs demonstrate why Matthew Bennett, vice president for design and engineering and founder of Dovetail Solar & Wind, Athens, Ohio, refers to the industry as the “solar coaster”.

Bennett’s business, which was established in 1995, installs solar on residential and commercial buildings. As such, he has worked with a number of roofing contractors over the years and sees synergies between the trades. Roofing asked Bennett how roofing contractors and solar installers can improve their relationship and achieve successful solar installations upon watertight roofs.

Roofing: When must you coordinate with roofing contractors?

Bennett: On almost every commercial roof where roof penetrations are required we’ll have a roofer come in and flash the penetrations and sometimes install a sleeve to get our conduit off the roof and into the building.commercial solar array

The other common reason for coordinating with a roofer is because the roof may be under warranty. Sometimes the warranty is held by the roof manufacturer, so we receive a list of roofers who can do the inspection. Usually there’s an inspection that needs to happen before and after the solar installation. We’re sometimes paying $1,000 to get inspections.

A lot of times we’re not fastening solar panels to flat commercial roofs; we’re installing what’s called a ballasted system where we may need to use an approved pad or put down an additional membrane to protect the roof from the pan that is holding ballast and keeping the array on the roof. Sometimes different roofing manufacturers are picky about what they allow on the roof and different kinds of roofs require different treatment, so it’s important to have a good roofing contractor available.

Roofing: When you hire contractors, what are you looking for?

Bennett: We’re looking for a roofing contractor that does quality work at a fair price because, I’ll be honest, we’ve been overcharged by roofers more than any other subcontractor. We take notes when we work with a roofing contractor: how easy they are to work with, how responsive they are to emails and phone calls, the quality of work and the price. We know roughly what to expect after being in business all these years. If we get a fair quote from a recommended contractor, we’ll often go with them without looking at other bids. We prefer to use a roofer who is familiar with the roof. A good relationship with the customer also is an important consideration.

Roofing: Are there situations in which you defer entirely to the roofing contractor?

Bennett: It’s a little unusual. We just put a system on a slate roof on a million-dollar home. The roof was very steep and we didn’t even want to get on the slate, so we hired the roofer to install the rails and solar panels. We did all the electrical work and procurement. We provided one of our crew leaders to be there the entire time to train the roofing crew and help them because they had no experience with solar. They knew how to get around on a slate roof and mount the solar flashing and they actually installed the whole array. They did it in not much more time than we would’ve done it. We were very impressed with them.

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