During Hospital Expansion, Contractor Protects Patients – and the Environment

The recent expansion of Pella Regional Health Center included adding a new third floor to the hospital. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

It’s not often a roofing contractor installs a new roof on a building before removing the old one, but that was just one of the wrinkles encountered by The Duerson Corporation during the recent expansion of Pella Regional Health Center in Pella, Iowa. The project involved adding a new third floor to the existing two-story hospital without disrupting the care of the patients below.

Protecting patients and meeting the needs of the hospital were the top priorities on the project, but another key focus was sustainability. Thanks to the initiative of The Duerson Corporation and Duro-Last, the roof system manufacturer on the project, almost all of the components on the existing roof were recycled, including the membrane, insulation, screws and plates.

The Game Plan

Based in Altoona, Iowa, The Duerson Corporation has been in business since 1986, specializing in commercial and industrial roofing, both new construction and retrofit. Kirk Duer, the company’s president, and Tanner Duer, head of business development, shared their insights on the Pella Regional Health Center Project with Roofing.

The Duro-Last roofing system included a vapor barrier, polyiso insulation, a cover board, and 50-mil white PVC membrane. Details included custom-fabricated curb flashings, walkway pads, and edge metal. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

They note that the goal on every project is to meet the client’s needs. “The hospital is a good example of that,” Kirk notes. “We took care of some maintenance and leak issues in the beginning, and then as time went on and trust was established, we did some re-roofing projects for them. Then they did this addition. It all flowed very well together.”

In a nutshell, the expansion plan involved erecting the steel for the new third floor, adding the roof deck, and installing the new roof system. The existing roof was left in place during this phase of construction, as the hospital was still active. After the walls were completed, the old roof system could be removed and recycled, and finally the interior work could be completed.

The first step involved erecting the steel for the new third floor. Kirk credits the hospital administrators for detailed planning before the project even got underway. That was the reason the existing roof was home to multiple 2-foot-by-2-foot boxes, complete with curbs and flashing.

Kirk Duer (left) and Tanner Duer of The Duerson Corporation in Altoona, Iowa, made sustainability a key focus of their business after they started recycling PVC membrane as part of Duro-Last’s Roof Take Back Program. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

“Those boxes covered the steel from the I-beams that were coming out of the roof, ready to receive that third floor,” Kirk notes. “When those boxes were removed, they just took their new steel and went up. It’s one of the more unique things I’ve ever seen in my history in the industry.”

As the steel went up, flashing the newly exposed I-beams was the first phase of the roofing work. “In the very beginning, once the general contractor removed those boxes, we added membrane and insulation around the I-beams and made sure they were watertight while the steelworkers erected their steel,” Kirk notes. “It was critical to keep it watertight because they still had patients right beneath us.”

Installing the New Roof

The new roof system covered an area of 27,600 square feet, bordered on one side by a long, curved parapet. The roof was installed over a structurally sloped steel deck with internal drains. “The first thing we did was install a vapor barrier over the entire deck,” Tanner notes.

The system consisted of Duro-Guard polyiso insulation with an R-value of 30, DensDeck cover board, and 50-mil Duro-Last white PVC membrane. Details included custom-fabricated curb flashings, Roof Trak III walkway pads, and coping and edge metal from Exceptional Metals.

Hospital administrators wanted a warranty from one source, notes Kirk. “Duro-Last refers to it as edge to edge, deck to sky,” he says. “Every component is supplied by Duro-Last and warranted by them for a full-system warranty. This particular administrator is adamant that this is what he wanted, and that’s what we delivered for them.”

Weather was not an issue, but the crews had to be ready to move quickly in the event of emergencies. “Work took place in September and October, which is about the most beautiful time of the year for us,” says Tanner. “The only unusual thing was that we had to have walkie-talkies on us at all times so they could alert us whenever a helicopter was coming in. Plant ops would notify us when a helicopter was coming in, and basically anything we had in the air we had to move down to the ground. We obviously wanted to make sure Pella Regional was not going to have a problem with us when a patient was flying in.”

After the metal roof deck was in place, crews installed a vapor barrier. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

The roofing installation was pretty straightforward, notes Kirk. There was one area on the lower roof that was an exception, as the new construction blocked access to the drains. “Originally the roof sloped in one direction, but because of the design of the new part of the building, we had to change the slope,” he says. “We had to turn everything around so water would flow in the other direction.”

On this section, the existing roof was torn off and removed, and tapered insulation was used to provide the proper slope. It was installed on a concrete deck over a working section of the hospital, so the installation was a bit tricky. “Rather than starting at the drain, which would be the easiest thing to do, we had to start at the furthest point away,” Kirk notes. “We were adding so much insulation, we didn’t want to create a bathtub, if you will. We had to start at the high point and work our way downhill so when we got to the drain, we’d have the correct elevation.”

Recycling the Old One

Once the third floor was closed in for the winter, it was time to remove the existing roof. “That was the fun part,” Tanner says.

The old roof was removed through a window. “We had an opening that was approximately 5 feet wide and 4 feet

The new roof system covers 27,600 square feet of the new third floor in an area bordered on one side by a long, curved parapet. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

tall,” Tanner recalls. “We took a fork lift with a BOXhaul on it and basically went up to the outside of the window and stuck it in there as far as we could without damaging any of the structure and started removing the material.”

No gas-powered vehicles were allowed to operate in the interior space. The fasteners had to be unscrewed and separated by hand. “When we removed the material, we tried to cut along the seams so we could see the screws and plates,” notes Tanner. “We sorted those out, and in the end we had more than 1,000 pounds of screws and plates we took back to our shop to be recycled.”

The existing membrane was cut up into 5-foot strips. Sections were rolled up and bundled for removal using a portable bander. Once the BOXhaul was full, it was taken to a flatbed trailer. “We completely filled the 20-foot trailer with old material to be recycled,” Tanner says. “In the end, there was 7,200 pounds of Duro-Last membrane that we recycled.”

The membrane was recycled as part of Duro-Last’s Roof Take Back Program. The company recycles the membrane, using it to construct products including walkway pads. “We’re lucky enough to have a Duro-Last plant in our state, and I actually took that load of material to be recycled to Sigourney one day,” Tanner says. “When I got there, they took a fork lift out there and unloaded it for me.”

The expanded polystyrene insulation was also removed and recycled. It was taken to Insulfoam, the original manufacturer. “The insulation necessitated a few more trips because it was so bulky,” Tanner says. “We kept an empty tractor trailer on site. In the end, we filled up three of those with approximately 120,000 board-feet of insulation that we took off of that project.”

The membrane that once covered the existing roof was cut into strips and rolled up for transport to the plant for recycling. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

The Duerson Corporation recycles as much material as it can throughout the year, including scrap metal and PVC membrane, which is stored in Duro-Last approved containers until there is enough to be transported to the plant.

“I thank Katie Chapman at Duro-Last for getting this program up and running and making us aware of it,” says Kirk. “Otherwise, that material would’ve just ended up in a landfill.”

Participating in the membrane recycling program was an eye-opener for everyone at the company. “One thing leads to another,” Kirk says. “We started recycling the roof membrane, and then you realize that there are other things you should think about. What do we do with the insulation? What do we do with the screws and plates? We started looking for ways to recycle everything, and pretty soon a full-blown sustainability program is born. It really does change the way you think once you buy into the system.”

The New Floor of the Hospital

After the general contractor removed the old vapor barrier with a floor scraper, the new third floor section was converted into a brand-new, pristine Obstetrics and Gynecology unit. The difference between the construction site and state-of-the-art hospital wing is striking.

The third floor of the hospital now houses a brand-new Obstetrics and Gynecology unit. Photos The Duerson Corporation.

“What we knew as the concrete roof deck was also designed to serve as the finished floor of the hospital,” Kirk says. “The new O.B. unit is just beautiful. If you look at that you can’t even imagine, unless you’ve been through the whole process, that the area with carpet and tile you’re looking at months ago used to be the roof.”

Safety for the roofing crews is always a priority at The Duerson Corporation, but safety precautions on this project also included ensuring the safety and security of the people in the hospital. “It was critical that we were always aware of the patients underneath us,” Kirk notes. “We had to be very mindful about the positioning of our generators, for example, so the exhaust wouldn’t be sucked into the fresh air intakes.”

Tanner points out that a checklist is prepared for each project to make sure everyone is aware of the client’s needs. This is especially important in health care projects like this one. “If someone goes out to take care of a leak call, for instance, we make sure they know everything they need to know to keep the client happy,” Tanner says. “With a health center, you have to take extra precautions. This can include items like making sure when you’re walking across the open roof that you don’t look into a patient’s room.”

“We’ve learned a great deal from working with Pella Regional Health Center in terms of just how mindful of everything we need to be,” Kirk says. “We recognize each of our clients, even though they all have a roof over their head, they all do something different for a living. In reality, everybody in any trade needs to recognize what your client does and what you need to do to be mindful of that.”

It takes communication to understand clients’ needs and build long-term relationships with customers. “We’ve got clients that we’ve serviced for 26 years,” Kirk says. “We’re all here to serve other people. In our case, it’s in roofing. Whether it’s a hospital or a convenience store, we’re serving them, and it all starts with that relationship.”

TEAM

Architect: Shive Hattery Architecture & Engineering, West Des Moines, Iowa, www.shive-hattery.com
General Contractor: Graham Construction, Des Moines, Iowa, www.grahamconstruction.com
Roofing Contractor: The Duerson Corporation, Altoona, Iowa, www.duersoncorporation.com

MATERIALS

Membrane: 50-mil Duro-Last white PVC membrane, Duro-Last, www.durolast.com
Insulation: Duro-Guard Polyiso, Duro-Last
Vapor Barrier: Duro-Last Vapor Barrier, Duro-Last
Coping: Coping and 2-piece edge metal, EXCEPTIONAL Metals, www.exceptionalmetals.com
Cover Board: DensDeck, Georgia-Pacific, www.densdeck.com

About Chris King

Chris King is the editor in chief of Roofing magazine. He has covered the construction industry for 18 years, previously serving as editor of Roofing Contractor, managing editor of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, and associate editor of Plumbing & Mechanical. He can be reached by email at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

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