Wind-damaged Roof Systems

Wind damage to roof systems is often catastrophic, placing the building users at a life-safety risk, resulting in interior and furnishing damage and suspension of interior operations, loss of revenues, legal ramifications and great costs to repair. Because of my 30 years of experience in the design of roof systems and forensic investigation, I’m often called upon as an expert witness after wind events. In this article, I’ll review a couple wind-event roof failures, the causes of the failures and how they could have been prevented. I’ll also provide recommendations for failure prevention in the design process for new roof systems, as well as for existing roof systems.

1. The concrete roof deck panels deflected more than 3/4 inch, which the design architect should have accounted for if a thorough field investigation was undertaken.

1. The concrete roof deck panels deflected more than 3/4 inch, which the design architect should have accounted for if a thorough field investigation
was undertaken.

The Perfect Storm

How can it be that when roof systems are to be designed for code-required wind-uplift resistance that so many fail in winds well below the design parameters and/or warranty coverage? The answer could be design-related, material or installation; typically, it involves all three.

Architects and some roof system designers are often not as knowledgeable about roof systems as they should be, have little empirical evidence in how all the components work together as a system, and move beyond their abilities (a violation of their standard of care) when designing roofs where specific detailing is required. In addition, manufacturers are all too often
bringing new products to the marketplace that have not been properly vetted in the field and their long-term performance is truly unknown. Unfortunately, the roofing contractor cannot escape any of this. The lack of proper specification and contract document review; failure to review product data, including installation guidelines for new products; poor project oversight and management; and pressure from general contractors often result in installations that are subpar. The result is a “perfect storm” of design, materials and installation that fail under stress.

Consider the following case studies that I have been involved in as a forensic or “expert” witness when litigation was involved.

Coastal Facility

A large aged warehouse along the eastern seaboard was in need of a new roof system. Because the interior was not conditioned, thermal insulation was not required. The existing roof was an asphalt built-up with aggregate surfacing on high-density fiberboard on precast concrete panels 24-inches wide on a steel structure. The northern portion of the building had overhead doors that were seldom closed. On the interior, an aedicule structure (a building within a building) was constructed approximately 65-feet south of the overhead door, which had a ceiling level 5-feet below the roof deck.

2. The thin, flexible 1/2-inchthick high-density board was found to have little, if any, contact with the full-coverage spray-foam adhesive, making uplift extremely easy.

2. The thin, flexible 1/2-inch-thick high-density board was found to have little, if any, contact with the full-coverage spray-foam adhesive, making uplift extremely easy.

The architect who designed the replacement roof system called for the existing BUR roof to be removed down to the precast concrete roof panels. Then a new 1/2-inch 4- by 8-foot high-density wood fiberboard was set in full-coverage spray polyurethane foam adhesive with a 60-mil EPDM membrane fully adhered to the high-density wood fiberboard.

Additionally, the architectural drawings called for rooftop relief vents to be removed and capped over.

Around June 2008, a Nor’easter (an intense rainstorm), coming in from the east off the ocean, swept into the city. This resulted in the new roof system being lifted off the roof deck. Mode of failure was the fiberboard detaching from the precast concrete roof deck.

Investigation revealed several acts and conditions that contributed to the wind damage.

PHOTOS: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

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Emerging Trends in New LLC Acts

Although the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is still a relatively new form of unincorporated business structure, LLCs are now outpacing newly formed corporate filings in most states and are quickly becoming the predominate form of new business entities across the country. The appeal of the LLC is obvious; it combines the corporate- style limited-liability benefits to its owners with the pass-through taxation benefits of partnerships. With these benefits, it is no surprise that contractors across the country are now choosing LLCs in lieu of corporations or partnerships when selecting their business structure.

Every state has now adopted an LLC act, but these acts vary significantly from state to state. Despite the growing popularity of the LLC structure, many states are still operating under old acts implemented more than 20 years ago, and many of these acts have not been significantly revised. Instead, they have been amended on an as-needed basis in an attempt to keep up with emerging LLC developments and case law. This has created piecemeal and disorganized acts governing LLCs.

To solve these problems, states across the country have been extensively revising their LLC acts or implementing completely new acts. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have formally enacted new LLC acts based on the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (RULLCA). These states include Alabama, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. In addition, South Carolina has been considering adopting the RULLCA. Other states, like North Carolina, which hasn’t officially adopted the RULLCA, have enacted new LLC acts and looked to states that had already adopted the RULLCA for guidance.

These new LLC acts are reshaping the LLC landscape. Contractors of existing LLCs and those wanting to form LLCs should be aware of the potential impact changes to their state’s LLC act can have on their company. Contractors need to be aware that the LLC act they initially filed under—and have been operating under—may now be significantly different or may no longer even be applicable. Failing to review newly revised or implemented acts may lead to unintended or adverse consequences, especially in states that are already operating under a new LLC act.

While a state-by-state analysis of new LLC acts is beyond the scope of this article, there are several trends emerging from states that have already enacted new LLC acts. These trends may soon be universally applicable and it is beneficial for the contractor operating or considering an LLC to be aware of them.

The Operating Agreement

Arguably, one of the most significant and widespread trends emerging from the new LLC acts is that many of the acts are eliminating the requirement that the operating agreement be in writing. Under many of the old LLC acts, an operating agreement was commonly defined as a written agreement between its members. Under many of the new acts, however, an operating agreement can now be a written, oral or implied agreement between its members. This is a broader definition of what qualifies as an operating agreement and essentially allows any type of agreement between members to become part of the operating agreement governing the LLC.

Although this change provides greater flexibility within the business because companies no longer need to adhere to a strict operating-agreement structure requirement, it also opens the door for increased internal litigation. Under these new LLC acts, internal disputes among members are likely to increase when operating-agreement terms are ambiguous or when members claim there was an oral or implied operating agreement.

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To Lease or Buy Equipment

As the economy continues to improve, more construction businesses are making capital investments to fuel their growth. When business owners and managers consider acquiring equipment, they often think of their payment option as a “lease versus buy” decision. In any economic environment, when preserving owner or shareholder capital is an important goal, financing equipment through a lease or loan will enable your business to preserve its cash.

Whether you finance equipment through a lease or loan, each has its advantages. In evaluating your options, it is important to look at each alternative to determine which will best balance usage, cash flow and your financial objectives. To help determine the most appropriate option, consider the following questions:

1. How long will the equipment be required?

Generally speaking, if the length of time the equipment is expected to be used is short term (36 months or less), leasing is likely the preferable option. Equipment expected to be used for longer than three years could be a candidate for a lease or a loan.

2. What is the monthly budget for the equipment?

As with any ongoing business expense, consider the monthly cost for a piece of equipment and how it fits into your budget. In general, leasing will provide lower monthly payments.

3. Will the equipment become obsolete while it is still needed for the operation?

Protection against obsolescence is one of the many benefits of equipment leasing because the risk of obsolescence is assumed by the lessor. Certain lease financing programs allow for technology upgrades and/or replacement within the term of the lease contract.

4. Is the equipment going to be used for a specific contract or can it be used for other projects?

Often, the business objective of equipment is for it to be revenue-producing. If a piece of equipment has limited use within a specific contract and won’t be used for other projects, it’s not ideal for it to be idle while you continue to make payments on it. It makes sense to stop the equipment expense when the income from it ceases, which you can do with a lease.

5. How much cash would be required upfront for a lease and for a loan?

Leasing can often provide 100 percent financing of the cost of the equipment, as well as the costs for transportation, delivery, installation set-up, testing and training, and other deferred costs (sales tax). Loans usually require a down payment and don’t include the other cost benefits. Ask how much of a down payment is needed and assess the availability and desirability of allocating company capital for that down payment.

6. Can the company use the depreciation or would the company get a greater benefit from expensing the lease payments?

The tax treatment of the financing arrangement is an important consideration in choosing between a lease and a loan. A loan provides you with the depreciation tax benefit; with a lease, the lessor owns the equipment and realizes the tax benefit, which is usually reflected in a lower monthly rent payment for your business, as well as the ability to expense the payment.

In many instances, if your business cannot use the tax benefit, it makes more sense to lease than to purchase through a loan because you can trade the depreciation to the lessor in exchange for better cash flow.

7. How will a working capital facility be impacted?

Many businesses have an aggregate line of credit through a bank that they can use for inventory purchases, improvements and other capital expenditures.

Depending on the lending covenants, it is often possible, as well as preferable, to preserve your bank working capital by leasing equipment through an equipment finance provider.

8. How flexible does your business want the financing terms to be?

A lease can provide greater flexibility because it can be structured for a variety of contingencies, whereas, with a loan, flexibility is subject to the lender’s rules.

If your business has continuing use for the equipment at lease termination, extended rentals, purchase options, trade-ups and return options are available. The lease term allows your business to match all expenses to the term of the equipment’s use, including income-tax expense, book expense and cash expense. Most importantly, as mentioned previously, the expense stops when the equipment is no longer required.

With the current low-interest-rate environment, now is a good time to finance equipment, in general, through a lease or loan. Again, the benefits of the type of financing is dependent on a number of variables and not necessarily the economics alone.

9. Do you anticipate the need for additional equipment under your financing agreement?

If your business is planning for growth, you can enter into a master lease that will allow you to acquire multiple pieces of equipment under multiple schedules with the same basic terms and conditions. This provides greater convenience and flexibility than a conditional loan contract, which must be renegotiated for additional equipment acquisitions.

10. Who can help me evaluate what’s best for my business?

Whether you finance equipment through a lease or loan, each has its advantages. When making the decision between a lease and a loan, it is highly recommended you consult with your accounting professional, as well as draw on the resources of your equipment financing provider, to enable you to secure the best possible terms for your lease and/or loan.

These are some of the key considerations that should go into the lease versus loan decision-making process. Find a lease/loan comparison and online tools.

An EPA Proposal to Reduce Ground-level Ozone Will Affect the Roofing Industry

On Nov. 26, 2014, the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to reduce the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The existing National Ozone Standard, last strengthened in 2008, sets the acceptable level of ozone at 75 parts per billion (ppb); the proposal calls for lowering that level to 65-70ppb, or even as low as 60ppb. The National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, has called the new proposed standard the “the most expensive regulation in history,” and its passage could result in widespread effects felt across the nation and a wide array of industries, including roofing.

Ozone NAAQS and Nonattainment

Tropospheric (ground-level) ozone is one of six “criteria” pollutants regulated by the EPA, pursuant to the 1990 Clean Air Act, because it has negative human-health impacts and can be damaging to vegetative growth. Ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine with sunlight. Significant anthropogenic (manmade) sources of VOC and NOx emissions include industrial and manufacturing facilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and solvents used in consumer and commercial coatings and paints.

The ozone NAAQS sets permissible ozone levels; those states and regions that do not meet those thresholds are designated as “nonattainment” areas. A nonattainment designation requires that the state develop and submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the EPA, which outlines the steps that will be taken to reach and maintain compliance, or “attainment”. The steps that a state may take to work toward ozone attainment are varied but often include control measures over manufacturing and industrial processes; regulations aimed to reduce VOC emissions from paints, coatings, and manufacturing processes; or voluntary measures, such as programs that encourage the use of mass transit to reduce vehicle usage.

Additionally, the nonattainment designation comes with specific mandates from the EPA. These include tougher permitting requirements for new or expanding facilities, potential loss of federal highway and transit funding, EPA oversight in permitting, and requirements to “offset” any new emissions sources by reducing emissions in existing operations or by purchasing emissions credits from others.

Many states and regions, including California and the majority of the Northeast’s I-95 corridor, are still working to comply with the 2008 ozone standard’s 75ppb level. The proposal to lower the existing ozone standard to within the range of 65-70ppb will result in a significant increase in nonattainment areas across the country, which will in turn result in growth of stationary source restrictions and state-level regulations as states develop SIPs for achieving lower ozone levels.

The effects of a stricter ozone standard will be felt across the nation and in a wide variety of industries. “Background ozone”, or the ozone levels that would exist regardless of the presence of industry, is 30ppb or higher in most areas. For such regions, lowering the standard from 75ppb to 65ppb would represent a mandate to reduce anthropogenic ozone by more than 20 percent. Additional reductions may prove difficult to achieve and costly, especially for those areas of the country that have already implemented control measures to achieve attainment with the 2008 Standard.

Effects on the Roofing Industry

One area of particular significance to the roofing industry will be VOC regulations for architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) coatings, as well as for industrial adhesives and sealants, which are used in the application of certain roof systems and for continued maintenance and protection of many roofs. The VOC content for a variety of AIM coatings is regulated on the national level by the EPA. Additionally, there are more stringent VOC regulations in place today across the majority of the Northeast, in several Great Lakes states, and in California’s 35 air districts for AIM coatings and adhesives and sealants as part of those states’ and regions’ SIPs for reaching attainment on existing ozone standards.

While there are regulatory bodies, such as the California Air Resources Board, Ozone Transport Commission and the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium that provide guidance on ozone attainment, it is ultimately left up to the states (and in the case of California, individual air districts) to develop and implement VOC regulations. As such, VOC regulations vary from state to state and region to region with rules that contain disparate VOC content limits, compliance dates, and record-keeping and reporting requirements, which can make compliance highly challenging.

Purpose of VOCs in Roof Coatings

VOCs are included in a wide array of coatings for several reasons. Solvent-based coatings can be used as an alternative to waterborne technologies, especially where freeze/thaw resistance and product application and storage in cooler climates or in winter months is required. VOCs are used to dissolve solids to keep coatings in a liquid phase, allowing for them to be applied prior to the solvent flashing out and the product curing to form a solid layer. Furthermore, coatings may be formulated with VOCs because of the solvents’ ability to soften the substrate that the coating is being applied to, improving the application and ultimate performance of the coating.

As new, stricter VOC regulations are introduced and VOC content limits are lowered in different roof coating, adhesive and sealant product categories, several negative consequences may occur. First, it may become more difficult to apply the product or to apply the product at an appropriately thin layer. Additionally, the performance of the product may be negatively impacted, which could result in the need for additional product application throughout the lifetime of the roof or, in extreme cases, a reduced life-span of the roof. Although there are many excellent waterborne technologies available, the use of water-based coatings may not be an acceptable alternative in all situations or in all roof systems.

The Path Forward

The ozone NAAQS’s publication in the Federal Register begins a 90-day comment period, which will be supplemented by several public hearings in the early months of 2015. Should the rulemaking continue forward and a lower ozone standard be approved, the EPA will begin designating attainment and nonattainment areas, which will start the process for the development of SIPs containing a host of new regulations across the country.

For manufacturers, specifiers and contractors alike, an influx of VOC regulations will prove challenging. Formulators will be forced to create high-performing products using lower-solvent content or through the use of exempt solvents; applicators will need to be aware of the rules in place to ensure they are applying compliant products; end-users will need to learn that products they have had in the past may no longer be available. Even under today’s ozone standard, keeping apace of the multitudinous and constantly changing VOC regulations is a large task. EPA’s final determination of a new ozone standard could prove to have significant and long-term ramifications that will be felt for many decades to come.

Insulation Types, Application Methods and Physical Characteristics Must Be Reviewed, Understood and Selected to Ensure Roof System Performance

Designing and constructing roof systems (see my previous articles about roof decks, substrate boards and vapor barriers) continues with the thermal insulation layer. The governing building codes will dictate the minimum R-value required and, based on the R-value of the selected insulation, the thickness of required insulation can be determined. This plays into the design of the roof edge, which will be the subject of future articles. For now, let’s focus on insulation.

Photo 1: Polyisocyanurate (ISO) with organic facers

Photo 1: Polyisocyanurate
(ISO) with organic facers

Thermal insulation has multiple purposes, including to:

    ▪▪ Provide an appropriate surface on which the roof cover can be placed.
    ▪▪ Assist in providing interior user comfort.
    ▪▪ Assist in uplift performance of the roof system.
    ▪▪ Provide support for rooftop activities.
    ▪▪ Keep the cool air in during the summer and out during the winter, resulting in energy savings.

INSULATION OPTIONS

For the designer, there are numerous insulation material choices, each with its own positive and negative characteristics. Today’s insulation options are:

    ▪▪ Polyisocyanurate (ISO)

  • »» Varying densities
  • »» Organic facers (see photos 1 and 2)
  • »» Double-coated fiberglass facers (see photo 3)
  • ▪▪ Expanded polystyrene (XPS) (see photo 4)

  • »» Varying densities
  • ▪▪ Extruded polystyrene (EPS) (see photo 5)

  • »» Varying densities
  • ▪▪ Mineral wool (see photo 6)

  • »» Varying densities
  • ▪▪ Perlite
    ▪▪ High-density wood fiber

With today’s codes, the use of perlite and high-density wood fiber as primary roof insulation is very limited. The R-value per inch and overall cost is prohibitive.

Some attributes of the more commonly used insulation types are:
POLYISOCYANURATE

Photo 2: Polyisocyanurate (ISO) with organic facers

Photo 2: Polyisocyanurate
(ISO) with organic facers

    ▪▪ Predominate roof insulation in the market
    ▪▪ Organic and double-coated fiberglass facers (mold-resistant)
    ▪▪ Varying densities available: 18 to 25 psi, nominal and minimum, as well as 80 to 125 psi high-density cover boards
    ▪▪ Has an allowable dimensional change, per the ASTM standard, that needs to be understood and designed for
    ▪▪ Can be secured via mechanical fasteners or installed in hot asphalt and/or polyurethane foam adhesive: bead and full-coverage spray foam
    ▪▪ Has an R-value just under 6.0 per inch but has some downward drifting over time

EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (EPS)

    ▪▪ Has good moisture resistance but can accumulate moisture
    ▪▪ Direct application to steel decks is often a concern with fire resistance
    ▪▪ Has varying densities: 1.0 to 3.0 pound per cubic foot
    ▪▪ Very difficult to install in hot asphalt; basically not appropriate
    ▪▪ Certain products can be secured with mechanical fasteners or lowrise foam adhesive
    ▪▪ Has stable R-values: 3.1 to 4.3 per inch based upon classification type

EXTRUDED POLYSTYRENE (XPS)

    ▪▪ Has good moisture resistance and is often used in protected roof membrane systems and plaza deck applications
    ▪▪ Direct application to steel decks is often a concern with fire resistance
    ▪▪ Has varying compressive strengths: 20 to 100 psi
    ▪▪ Not appropriate to be installed in hot asphalt
    ▪▪ Has stable R-values: 3.9 to 5 per inch based on classification type

MINERAL WOOL

    ▪▪ Outstanding fire resistance
    ▪▪ Stable thermal R-value: 4.0 per inch
    ▪▪ No dimensional change in thickness or width over time
    ▪▪ Available in differing densities
    ▪▪ May absorb and release moisture
    ▪▪ Can be installed in hot asphalt or mechanically attached

PHOTOS: HUTCHINSON DESIGN GROUP LTD.

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Asking Many Questions Helps Property Managers Prepare Reroofing Budgets

Property managers are challenged with three basic decisions for their existing roof systems: Should they repair, maintain or replace their roof system? The proper execution of each phase of the roof condition will determine the longevity of a roof system. Every roof is different and requires detailed evaluation and analysis for budgeting and decision-making purposes.

The bottom line is: What is your desired outcome for your roof and what is your budget? How can you extend the life of your roofing asset and reduce the cost of ownership?

For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll focus on reroofing.

UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS

If you decide to replace your roof, you have to analyze the expense of a new roof, as well as the total investment cost during the lifespan of the roof. Ask yourself these questions and work with your roofing contractor to better understand all options.

    ▪▪ What’s best for my roof, climate and budget?
    ▪▪ What do I want from my roof, other than no roof leaks?
    ▪▪ Should I prepare a one-year budget or a multi-year budget?
    ▪▪ Do I want energy-efficient solutions (improved R-values), daylighting solutions (reduce my electric bills, qualify for energy rebates) and/or safety enhancements (meet or exceed OSHA standards)?
    ▪▪ What operation, service or product is underneath my roof? Product and installation decisions are made differently for roofs over food-processing plants, semiconductor plants or hospitals, for example.
    ▪▪ What three things are most important for my new roof, other than price? (Roofing materials, manufacturer of product, weather, pollution, warranty, maintenance, aesthetics, contractor’s safety requirements, return on investment, energy efficiency, roof traffic or other concerns, for example.)
    ▪▪ What is the value of the roof system as a long-term cost of ownership and not just based on initial price?
    ▪▪ Can we reduce the capital budget by removing expensible items, such as labor for the removal of the existing roof and the cost for disposal of the old roofing materials?

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Work with your roofing contractor to prepare a comprehensive plan for reroofing. The National Roofing Contractors Association and Building Owners and Managers Association International also are excellent resources.

Have your contractor review the best options for your building related to insulation type and amount; drainage condition and requirements; roofing membrane type/thickness; and safety requirements, such as roof hatches, guard rails, skylight screens and walk pads. Look at the slope of the roof to avoid standing-water problems. Are your gutters, downspouts and drains properly sized for adequate water drainage?

Budget numbers should be based on actual costs using measurement tools and Roof Life Index (RLI) tools. When budgeting for a capital project, there can be changes between the time the budget is set and when the project is installed. Materials and/or labor prices can increase. Damage to a roof can increase due to age, weather or other circumstances. Work with your contractor to lock in pricing for repair work during the interim months until the reroofing project begins.

Consider a thermal scan to define the extent of any compromised insulation.

Review local and national building codes for R-value and wind-uplift requirements. Check with your insurance carrier to determine whether the roof replacement system meets its requirements for roof assemblies.

It takes research, planning and capital to install a new roof system. Your roofing contractor is an excellent partner in reviewing your roofing needs, your budget considerations and maximizing the investment in your roofing asset.

Do Your Past Commercial Projects Qualify for an Unused Tax Deduction?

IRS Section 179D has permitted qualifying buildings to receive tax deductions for energy efficiency since 2006. In general, roofing professionals have been unaware of this tax break and, as a result, have not taken advantage of it. Here’s a look at the 179D tax deduction, some reasons why it has been overlooked, and, most importantly, whether there is still time for you or your clients to retroactively claim Section 179D.

WHAT IS 179D?

Enacted under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress added Section 179D as an “energy efficient commercial building deduction”. It was intended to serve as an incentive for the public and private sector to build energy-efficient buildings. Overall, the provision allows for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for buildings that meet certain energy-usage reduction criteria. More importantly, the section allows for a “partial deduction” of $0.60 per square foot for three individual categories: interior lighting; HVAC and hot-water systems; and building envelope, including the roof.

A variety of different factors go into determining whether the roof system will meet the energy-savings criteria. In the northern climate zones, roofing systems with increased insulation values, as well as vegetative roofing systems, are going to have potential to exceed the energy-saving criteria of 179D. In southern climate zones (which typically include Florida, Texas and southern portions of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and New Mexico), cool roofs and insulated systems typically are good candidates to qualify for the energy-saving targets established in 179D. So why have relatively few roofing contractors made use of the provision? At least part of the answer has to do with how the provision was introduced and the lack of expertise available at the time to provide the necessary third-party verification.

For a building envelope to qualify for the deduction, the IRS requires a software simulation to model the annual energy cost savings for the building compared to a theoretical reference building. This study has to be completed and inspected by an independent engineer. However, when the tax provision was initially enacted in 2006, there wasn’t a single firm in the nation that was structured to offer this IRS-required service.

To make the tax incentive more accessible, the IRS developed a simplified “energy analysis,” referred to as the “Interim Rule” for partially qualifying lighting improvements. This adjustment proved effective for the lighting industry whose contractors and engineers quickly developed the necessary verification services to demonstrate compliance with the provision’s requirements.

While lighting contractors benefitted from the new tax code, contractors who worked on the building envelope were left outside. When Section 179D was introduced, the building envelope had to produce a nearly 17 percent reduction of combined energy use from the building’s HVAC and lighting systems. This proved to be a difficult target and, in 2008, the IRS issued a notice that reduced the requirements to 10 percent with the hope of stimulating use of the 179D incentive in the building envelope industries.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Once the lower 10 percent threshold was permitted by the IRS, engineers and tax specialists recognized the benefits that had been available to other industries were now accessible to roofing contractors. While a few roofing companies have benefitted from millions of dollars in tax savings through Section 179D, many millions of dollars remain unclaimed by roofing companies that have installed new roof systems.

Private and government buildings that meet the criteria are eligible for the tax incentive. To date, most of the tax deductions have originated from government-owned buildings. Congress recognized that government entities cannot themselves benefit from tax deductions, so they allowed the deductions to be allocated to the designer or contractor of the energy-efficient system.

RETROACTIVE OPPORTUNITY

The provisions for Section 179D were in effect from 2006 through the end of 2013. Congress approved extensions in 2006 and then again in 2008 and there is bipartisan support to continue the extension through 2015 at least, although legislation to do so is still pending. (See “The Future of Section 17D”, below.) This means current and future qualifying projects seem likely to be eligible to claim this tax break.

Here’s the important part: For work completed before 2014, there is still an opportunity to claim the tax break but time is running out.

For public projects, a study can be performed for pre-2014 projects to see if you can receive the government-allocated deduction. However, the IRS only allows you to amend open tax years, generally three years from the filing date, so it is better not to wait.

For private projects, the building owner can claim deductions in the current tax year, meaning no amendment is necessary for eligible buildings all the way back to 2006. While you may not directly benefit from this tax deduction, it can be useful information for your commercial clients and may help with bidding future projects, assuming the tax deduction is extended.

The Section 179D tax deduction has been historically underused by roofing contractors. To change this, the IRS has modified the requirements to make it more viable. Also, the industry now has the third-party engineering firms required to verify eligibility. Bottom line: There are still opportunities for contractors who have performed energy-saving roof installations to realize significant tax savings.

THE FUTURE OF SECTION 179D

Section 179D is included in the Senate Finance Committee’s EXPIRE Bill. It includes a two-year extension, as well as expands the deduction to the designers of nonprofits. The House Ways and Means Committee held a series of hearings about tax extenders this year. Chairman Camp of Ways and Means had indicated it was unlikely he would extend as many provisions as the Senate EXPIRE Bill. To help support Section 179D, review a Suggested Letter written by Energy Tax Savers Inc., a provider of Energy Policy Act tax services. You can personalize and send the letter to your representatives and members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, as well as tweet your support with suggested Twitter handles and hashtags.

Standards for Testing Solar PV Modules and Panels

For more than a decade, the demand for grid-connected solar installations in the U.S. has been on the rise, in part, because of economic and legislative incentives that encourage and often subsidize the installation of photovoltaic (PV) modules for residential and commercial applications. In the interest of improving energy efficiency, property owners, including businesses and homeowners, are turning to their roofs to support the PV systems.

Solar PV panels are installed on a roof by a mounting or racking system. Building-integrated PV modules replace the roofing material and become a part of the roof.

Solar PV panels are installed on
a roof by a mounting or racking
system. Building-integrated PV
modules replace the roofing material
and become a part of the roof.

A U.S. Solar Market Insight report published this year by the Solar Energy Industries Association, Washington, D.C., found that grid-connected solar electric installations were producing 13 GW of energy through the end of 2013—enough to power nearly 2.2 million homes in the U.S. That’s equivalent to 4,751 MW of solar PV installed in 2013.

There are two main types of PV modules that are being installed on steep- and low-slope roofs today: PV modules that are secured to the roof by a mounting or racking system and building-integrated PV modules (BIPV) that replace the roofing material and become part of the roof. The variety of components and installation techniques lends itself to closer scrutiny in testing each PV module.

ANSI/UL 1703

For more than a decade, manufacturers of flat-plate PV modules and solar panels have had their products tested and certified to meet the ANSI/UL 1703 regulatory standard to ensure their safety, performance and reliability before entering the market.

However, following recent field failures in which fire impacted the module differently than anticipated because of the way it was installed or interacted with the roof, as well as how the PV performed in extreme weather conditions, the ANSI/UL 1703 standard was updated for fire-resistance testing and classification requirements.

The changes to ANSI/UL 1703 require that testing for PV systems not solely be based on the rating for the individual modules, but instead that it takes into account a combined system rating. Stand-alone PV modules and PV modules with mounting or racking systems in combination with the roof covering must receive a fire rating, denoted by Class A, B or C. However, the same testing procedures do not apply for BIPV systems. They will continue to be tested to ANSI/UL 790, “Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings”.

Fire resistance testing, such as Spread of Flames and Burning Brand tests, on solar PV roofing installations are tested in a lab and in the field.

Fire resistance testing, such as Spread of Flames and Burning Brand tests, on solar PV roofing installations are tested in a lab and in the field.

Because of the changes to the ANSI/UL 1703 standard, manufacturers will be required to incorporate new and different testing procedures or potentially need to re-test previously tested products to comply with the standard. A PV panel will be required to obtain a classification “type” with construction review and testing, in addition to obtaining a fire rating for the PV system, which incorporates a module, mounting system and roof covering. The California State Fire Marshal announced the changes to ANSI/UL 1703 will go into effect in California starting Jan. 1, 2015, while changes to the code are set to go into effect in all states and other countries by Jan. 1, 2016.

THIRD-PARTY TESTING

Several solar PV manufacturers regularly work with companies, like Intertek, to ensure the quality and safety of their products, processes and systems. Intertek is one of the four Nationally Recognized Test Laboratories, including UL, CSA and TUV, recognized by Washington-based OSHA to conduct the ANSI/UL 1703 and ANSI/UL 790 testing in the U.S. Intertek has testing labs in Middleton, Wis., and Menlo Park, Calif., among others sites in the U.S. At Intertek, fire-resistance testing for steep-slope roofs is conducted using a “typical” roof as defined in the standard, which consists of 15/32-inch plywood (Spread of Flames) or 3/8-inch plywood (Burning Brand), 15-pound felt and Class A three-tab asphalt shingles. An alternate construction for the Spread of Flames test is to use any classified rolled asphalt membrane, mechanically secured over a non-combustible deck/material.

Low-slope roof testing has a slightly different construction, and the Spread of Flames test is the only test conducted. The low-slope roof consists of a 15/32-inch plywood substrate; 4 inches of polyisocyanurate insulation; and a single-ply, mechanically attached membrane. This membrane is required to have demonstrated a Class A fire rating. A typical membrane used for the testing is a 0.060-inch-thick EPDM roofing membrane.

Fire-resistance testing is just part of the rigorous testing criteria for PV modules; test requirements for the module’s power output, grounding, accelerated aging and conditioning, thermal cycling, UV exposure, and high humidity/freeze tests are also part of the performance testing process. To properly test and certify PV products for the solar market, third-party performance testing ensures independent verification of warranty claims, endurance, output, and functionality in a variety of climate or conditions.

ETL ListedProducts certified by Intertek will receive the ETL Listed Mark, which is required by the U.S. National Electrical Code for the sale of PV systems. Intertek certification provides assurance to roofing contractors, architects, and building owners that a product has not only been tested and met the necessary requirements, but also continues to do so even after installation. Further, Intertek’s ETL markings have long been recognized by regulatory bodies as a leading indicator of proof of conformance and quality for products throughout the U.S. and Canada. Code officials and inspectors, retailers and consumers across the U.S. accept the ETL Listed Mark as proof of product safety and quality. Today, the ETL Mark is the fastest-growing safety certification in North America and is featured on millions of products sold by major retailers and distributors every day.

PHOTOS: Intertek

Learn More

For more information about the testing and certification process, download Intertek’s free white paper: “Photovoltaic Panel and Module Fire Resistance Testing: Comprehensive Guide to ANSI/UL 1703” at Intertek.com/energy/photovoltaic.

MORE ABOUT INTERTEK

In December 2013, Intertek acquired York, Pa.-based Architectural Testing Inc. to become one of the world’s largest quality-solutions providers to the building and construction products’ industry worldwide. From code compliance, performance testing, product inspection, certification and building verification services, Intertek offers its customers everything needed to get their product to market quickly and efficiently by offering total solutions. With a total network of more than 1,000 laboratories and offices and more than 36,000 people in more than 100 countries, Intertek supports companies’ success in the global marketplace by helping customers to meet end users’ expectations for safety, sustainability, performance, integrity and desirability in virtually any market worldwide. For more information about Intertek’s building products’ business, visit Intertek.com/building.

RRPs Help Achieve the RoofPoint Designation for Roofing Projects

Your roof is an asset—an asset that protects your building and everything and everyone in it. So it’s important to get a high quality, environmentally friendly roof system for the lowest annualized cost. There is a new environmentally focused certification for roofing professionals to help building owners make informed decisions about their roofs. The certification
is the RoofPoint Registered Professional (RRP) program.

BACKGROUND

The RRP program adds to the suite of information from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (Center) and complements the RoofPoint certification program and its RoofPoint Guideline for Environmentally Innovative Nonresidential Roofing. In addition to the RoofPoint Guideline and certification program, the suite of information
includes the RoofPoint 2012 Energy and Carbon Calculator, the Center/PIMA Roof and Wall Thermal Design Guide, the Center/Spray Foam Coalition Spray Polyurethane Design Guidance document, and guideline documents from the Center’s PV Taskforce about racking and attachment criteria for integration of PV on low- and steep-slope roof systems. The RRP’s focus is to be fluent in the RoofPoint Guideline, however. (More information about RoofPoint and the Center is available in the May/June issue of this magazine, page 34.)

The Meridian Vineyards roof restoration in Paso Robles, Calif., was submitted by D.C. Taylor Co. and achieved a 17 within RoofPoint, as well as a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design Award for Excellence in Materials Management.

The Meridian Vineyards roof restoration in Paso Robles, Calif., was submitted by D.C. Taylor
Co. and achieved a 17 within RoofPoint, as well as a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design
Award for Excellence in Materials Management.

RRP PROGRAM

The RRP program is intended to provide individual certification for roofing professionals who are designing, specifying, constructing or managing sustainable roof installations certified under the RoofPoint Guideline. The RoofPoint project certification program was started several years ago and has certified hundreds of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly roof installations across the U.S. and North America.

Because many of the sustainable concepts in RoofPoint are likely new to many building owners seeking guidance in the selection of sustainable roofs, the RRP program provides an important link between the ultimate roofing customer—the building owner—and the green-building community, similar to the relationship between the LEED rating system and the LEED AP professional designation.

“RoofPoint Registered Professionals represent a dedicated group of professionals in the roofing industry who make contributions every day to sustainable construction and whose work helps to showcase the critical role roofs play in mitigating the impact buildings have on our environment,” says Center President Craig Silvertooth.

As ambassadors for RoofPoint, RRPs provide services to building owners, facility managers and other building designers interested in achieving the RoofPoint designation for their projects.

CERTIFICATION AND AWARDS

As a building owner, requesting a “RoofPoint roof” in an RFP for a new roof system accelerates the process of ensuring the design and installation of a sustainable roof system. Working directly with RoofPoint Registered Professionals can guarantee the installation of a sustainable roof. RRPs, because they understand the RoofPoint program and process, are capable of self-certifying a new roof as a RoofPoint roof.

A key feature to the RoofPoint program is acknowledgement of the excellent work done by every member of the project team with certificates or awards for the building owner, facility manager, architect or roof consultant, the general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers. Certificates can be awarded to the team as part of a formal or informal presentation.

“I recently had the opportunity to attend a reception sponsored by a charter member of the RRP program in Denver,” notes Jim Hoff, vice president of Research for the Center. “At the reception, we were able to recognize every member of the building team involved in a number of RoofPoint projects for the General Services Administration in Denver. In addition to the GSA’s chief roofing manager, we were able to recognize the roofing contractor, roof system manufacturer, and a number of key service and support organizations that made these award-winning roofing systems possible. RoofPoint and the RRP program really helped to acknowledge everyone involved in these outstanding projects.”

Honda Headquarters, Clermont, Fla., scored a 22 within RoofPoint for Tecta America and was recognized with a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design Award, Honorable Mention for Excellence in Water Management.

Honda Headquarters,
Clermont, Fla., scored a 22
within RoofPoint for Tecta
America and was recognized with a 2011 RoofPoint Excellence in Design Award, Honorable Mention for Excellence in Water Management.

Furthering the marketing opportunity, a RoofPoint-certified roof is eligible for the Excellence in Design Awards (EDAs). EDAs are given annually to the best RoofPoint projects. The EDA categories include energy, water, material and life-cycle/durability management; global, community, private sector and public sector leadership; excellence in reroofing; and advanced sustainable roofing.

RRP IMPORTANCE

An RRP understands the RoofPoint Guideline and can identify the many ways current roofing systems provide economic value and protect the environment. An RRP will wade through the myriad roof system choices to establish design, installation and maintenance criteria for the selection of sustainable roof systems. An RRP understands how to recognize and validate roof system
selection and reward environmental innovation in roofing. An RRP can help analyze the energy and carbon savings by using the RoofPoint Energy and Carbon Calculator, which helps promote life-cycle costs in lieu of the traditional initial-cost basis for roof system selection.

“For over 20 years, I have worked to promote the value of sustainable roof system design and construction with durable, time-tested materials and construction-detail design, delineated graphically for long-term service life, which is the essence of sustainability,” explains Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd., Barrington, Ill.; a Roofing editorial advisor; and co-chair of CIB W083 Joint Committee on Roofing Materials and Systems, an international committee on sustainable low-slope roof systems. “The RoofPoint program and the RRP designation help me validate to my clients proven design standards and detailing, as well as help ensure my clients are getting the most durable and sustainable roof systems available.”

If you would like to learn more about RoofPoint and the RRP program, please visit the RoofPoint website, RoofPoint.org. It contains the following detailed materials:

    ▪▪ Information about the function, structure and content of the RoofPoint Guideline.
    ▪▪ A comprehensive database of all certified RoofPoint projects in North America.
    ▪▪ Detailed instructions how to become an RRP, including a free copy of the RRP Program Manual and application form.
    ▪▪ Free online training videos about RoofPoint, including “Introduction to RoofPoint”, “Scoring RoofPoint Projects” and “Submitting RoofPoint Projects”.

The Center encourages all building owners and facility managers to work with RRPs to obtain appropriate, environmentally friendly roof systems.

Local Branding Can Trump National Competitors

The marketing game can certainly be complex. With hundreds of tools, thousands of options and one big learning curve in between, it’s easy to be inundated.

Throw in some big conglomerate-sized competitors and it’s downright daunting.

Nevertheless, local contractors actually have an advantage. They are in an incredible position to build the very best of brands. All they need to do is start!

SEE THE OPPORTUNITY: A BIG BRAND

Why do people choose big-name brands over competitors? Because they know what to expect.

The bar is set pretty low for blowing customers out of the water with service, quality and efficiency. However, when you can create a truly great customer experience, people will remember it. Customers tend to expect greatness to come from those companies that put forth an appealing and professional image. Their branding gets remembered. And the brands that get remembered are usually the ones that succeed.

A major flaw that many small businesses and contractors fail to recognize is that their brand is not memorable. Maybe they use initials for their company name or have bland truck-wrap designs. Maybe their website looks like it was made in 1995 or their brochure is full of grammatical errors. Whatever the case may be, there is always room for improvement.

A big brand excites and reassures. It doesn’t lead to skepticism or distrust. You can beat out the bigger companies when it comes to delivering personable, reliable and memorable service in your community. You just need to get your visual presence to reflect that.

So how do you make that happen?

PROFESSIONAL LOOK, PERSONAL FEEL

Customers want a service that’s human and personalized. But they also want an outfit that looks the part. The challenge is how to blend the two.

If you think aspects of your service, like tidy uniforms, clean service equipment and a slick-looking company truck, don’t matter, you’re severely missing out. Thoughtful service can help get your company’s reputation in good standing. Yet it’s only when you’ve got a brand that matches your high-quality service that you can expect to crush the competition.

Put customer woes to bed by taking hold of your brand and getting a professionally designed logo. The degree of aesthetic quality and industry-appropriate imagery will position your name as an immediate authority.

UPDATED AND INTEGRATED

Does your website and digital presence reflect your most current services and information? In 2014, this is a must!

You lose customers when you default on your brand promise by providing misleading information or not living up to expectations. Ignorance of an error is no excuse; customers will be disappointed and frustrated when certain expectations are not met. This is business.

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