Efficient and Effective Construction Through Building Codes

This fire station roof assembly includes thermally efficient cross-ventilated non-structural composite insulation manufactured by Atlas Roofing and installed by Utah Tile & Roofing.   Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp

This fire station roof assembly includes thermally efficient cross-ventilated non-structural composite insulation manufactured by Atlas Roofing and installed by Utah Tile & Roofing. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp

In a world where the bottom line is a critical concern in any construction project, conscientious design and roofing professionals look at the lifetime costs of a building instead of just the short-term construction outlay. Choices made during a building’s initial design and construction have long-term influence on the lifetime of its operation and maintenance. With so many building products and options available, building codes take on a vital role in guiding decisions about building quality, safety, and energy performance. These trusted benchmarks, compiled with input from a broad range of stakeholders, are designed to ensure that the best technologies, materials, and methods are used in construction.

Building Energy Codes 101

Model building energy codes are revised every three years to incorporate the latest research and ensure that new and existing buildings benefit from the methods and products that will produce the most value and safety over time. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE set standards tailored to specific climate zones and include options to provide flexibility in choosing the methods and materials best suited to each project’s needs while nevertheless meeting the requirements. Without regular, incremental improvements to these codes, new buildings would be dated even before their construction begins.

Indeed, while some building features are straightforward to replace and upgrade over time, some of the most vital elements of building performance need to be “designed in” at the outset. Codes are designed to lock in savings during initial construction or major renovations to promote cost-effective design and construction practices. For example, roof replacement projects provide an opportunity to cost-effectively improve the overall energy efficiency performance of buildings.

Energy-efficient design strategies are helpful to all building owners, including government and municipal projects built with taxpayer funding. Pictured here is Fire Station #108 in Brighton, Utah. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

One of the major benefits of building code updates in recent years is the focus on energy efficiency and resiliency. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety writes that, “Over the centuries, building codes have evolved from regulations stemming from tragic experiences to standards designed to prevent them.” With the ongoing effects of climate change, buildings are subjected to extremes of weather and temperature that challenge the performance of their systems. Most structures built over the previous century were not designed or constructed with energy efficiency in mind and suffer from poor insulation and dramatic thermal loss. Buildings account for over 40 percent of America’s total energy consumption, 74 percent of our electricity, and cause 40 percent of our greenhouse emissions. Implementing best practices for sustainable design and utilizing highly efficient building materials like insulation could save billions of dollars a year and improve the reliability of the electrical grid systems.

Energy-Efficient Roofing

A report prepared in 2009 by Bayer MaterialScience (now Covestro), “Energy and Environmental Impact Reduction Opportunities for Existing Buildings with Low-Slope Roofs,” determined that going from an R-12 insulation level (i.e., the average R-value of roofs on older buildings) to R-30 would pay for itself in energy savings in just 12 years with an average reduction in building energy use of 7 percent. Better roof insulation also saves money on equipment, since buildings with weaker envelopes require larger and costlier HVAC systems and future upgrades to HVAC equipment that is smaller and less expensive will always be limited by this constraint.

These savings are not only confined to new construction. In renovations, the removal and replacement of a roof membrane offers the best and most cost-effective opportunity to improve a building’s thermal envelope and better position that building for energy-efficiency upgrades down the road.

Energy Efficiency in Government Buildings

While these strategies are helpful to all building owners, they are especially important for government projects built with an increasingly tight supply of taxpayer dollars. Here is another place where the building codes provide a major assist. For federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings where the design process began after Nov. 6, 2016, agencies are required to design buildings to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2013 and, if life-cycle cost-effective, achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30 percent below the levels of the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 baseline building. These savings are calculated by looking at the building envelope and energy consuming systems normally specified by ASHRAE 90.1 (such as space heating, space cooling, ventilation, service water heating, and lighting but not receptacle and process loads not covered by 90.1).

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

Changes in the 2013 edition of ASHRAE 90.1 clarify the insulation requirements of various low-slope re-roofing activities. New definitions of “roof covering” (the topmost component of the roof assembly intended for weather resistance, fire classification, or appearance) and “roof recovering” (the process of installing an additional roof covering over an existing roof covering without removing the existing roof covering) were added and the exceptions to the R-value requirement for roof replacements were clarified to include only “roof recovering” and the “removal and replacement of a roof covering where there is existing insulation integral to or below the roof deck.” In all other instances, when a roof membrane is removed and replaced, the insulation must be brought up to current R-value requirements, which range from R-20 to R-35, depending on climate zone. In addition, the prescriptive R-value requirements for low-slope roofs under 90.1-2013, as compared to previous version (90.1-2010), are higher. For instance, in populous climate zones 4 and 5 the R-values for these roofs increased from R-20 to R-30.

The Department of Energy is preparing to start a rulemaking process to update the federal building energy standard baseline to the 90.1-2016 Standard, which will provide about an 8 percent improvement in energy cost savings compared to 90.1-2013. However, no changes were made to the R-values for low-slope roofs. Managers of federal buildings are working to comply with updated directives that impact new construction and building alterations, including:

  • “Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings”
  • GSA PBS-P100 “Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service”
  • DOD’s Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC).

The instructions in these publications coupled with Executive Order 13693, issued on March 15, 2015, and “Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings,” require new and existing federal buildings to adopt improved energy efficiency and “green building” attributes. New buildings are expected to “employ strategies that minimize energy usage” and existing ones must “seek to achieve optimal energy efficiency.” These directives require:

  • Regular benchmarking and reporting of building annual energy use intensity.
  • Annual 2.5 percent improvement in energy use intensity every year through the end of 2015.
  • All new buildings be designed to achieve net-zero energy use beginning in 2020.

Good Practice in Action

At the end of the day, the success of building codes in producing the cost-savings, weather-resiliency, and energy efficiency is determined by how they are adopted and enforced locally. If the most current codes were universally adopted and enforced,

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

there would be no competitive advantage to inferior building construction practices. Incremental upgrades would provide a steady stream of work that would increase competitiveness for building professionals and suppliers. Updated job skills would increase market value for construction professionals and enable innovation in the construction sector and increased market share for innovative products and processes that would improve economies of scale and lower their cost differential.

Building codes provide a comprehensive and reliable standard that contribute to local economies and improve building performance. Knowledge of code requirements help designers and contractors deliver more value to their clients. Finally, a bit more of an investment during design and construction can yield significant savings in building operation and tangible benefits to the environment and economy of areas that adopt higher building standards.

Re-Roofing of Shopping Center Poses Logistical Challenges

Southgate Shopping Center: Sebring, Florida

The re-roofing project of the shopping center totaled 79,556 square feet.

The re-roofing project of the shopping center totaled 79,556 square feet.

Roofing contractors often find themselves tackling re-roofs at shopping centers in piece-meal fashion, doing sections over the years as the budget allows. When property manager Southern Management and Development decided to remodel the entire Southgate Shopping Center in Sebring, Fla., in conjunction with Publix Markets’ replacement of their existing store at the location, they looked to Advanced Roofing to get the job done.

The scope of work included re-roofing three large sections of the retail plaza and a drugstore on the property. The roofing portions totaled 79,556 square feet.

Roof System

The roof specified was a two-ply modified bitumen system from Johns Manville. In the three large sections of the plaza, the existing built-up roof was completely torn off, while the drugstore was a re-cover project, notes Andrew Vik, estimator and project manager with Advanced Roofing’s Tampa branch, which operates under branch manager Michael Landolfi.

Roofing work started in November 2016 and was completed in February 2017. After the existing roof was removed, crews installed 2-inch polyiso to the steel deck. “We mechanically fastened that with a half-inch USG SecuRock cover board through the steel deck,” notes Vik. “The two plies of modified bitumen were then torch applied, a smooth base sheet and a white granulated cap sheet.”

On the drugstore, the roof was vacuumed, and the cover board and two plies were installed over the top of the old roof system.

In addition to the roofing scope, Advanced Roofing’s HVAC division installed and removed heating and air conditioning units and replaced some obstructive ductwork. “We had our own HVAC people working with our roofing crews, so it was easy to coordinate everything,” notes Vik. “We had HVAC installations on three of the buildings, and we remounted existing units on two of the buildings. There was also a lot of demolition on the south building, as there were several derelict units that
had been sitting there for quite some time. Those had to be hoisted off there and taken out.”

A Challenging Project

In addition to the roofing scope, Advanced Roofing’s HVAC division installed and removed heating and air conditioning units and replaced some obstructive ductwork.

In addition to the roofing scope, Advanced Roofing’s HVAC division installed and removed heating and air conditioning units and replaced some obstructive ductwork.


Logistics are often a challenge with a shopping center that remains open to the public, notes Vik. “You have to load and unload multiple levels of the roof at different times,” he says. “Customer relations is also a challenge; you have to keep everyone happy and ask a lot of questions. The construction manager has to do a lot of P.R. when he’s there.”

Demolition portions of the project were done at night and application during the day, so business at the mall was never disrupted. Traffic in the parking area was also a key concern.

“Setup areas had to be barricaded and marked off while we were loading and unloading,” Vik says. “There was even a drive under bridge connecting two buildings that had to be re-roofed, so we always had to be mindful of people below.”

Parapet walls did not surround all portions of the roof, so safety precautions included a safety perimeter; employees outside the perimeter had to be harnessed and tied off to a portable fall protection anchor system by Raptor.

The project went off without a hitch, according to Vik. “The mall was 100 percent open during the entire project,” he says. “Things went very smoothly— especially for everything that was involved. One of our mottoes is, ‘The harder the job, the better.’ We like a challenge. We take on a lot of projects other companies shy away from.”

The keys to his company’s success are coordination and versatility, states Vik. “We do it all,” he says. “We didn’t have to get anybody from outside the company to work on the project. We did all the roofing, all of the HVAC, and all of the hoisting was done in-house. We’ve also got lightning protection inhouse, and we have a solar division. We have a great team. Everyone does their part to get the bids out and get the jobs done. It’s the best team I’ve ever worked with.”

Team

Roofing Contractor: Advanced Roofing Inc., Tampa, Fla.
Consultant: CBA Roof Consulting LLC, Lake Worth, Fla.
Roof System Manufacturer and Technical Support: Johns Manville, Denver

Vivint Solar Inc. and Renovate America Collaborate to Offer Rooftop Solar to More Homeowners

Vivint Solar Inc. and Renovate America are collaborating to expand access to rooftop solar for homeowners. By offering Renovate America’s HERO program as its PACE financing option, Vivint Solar is enabling more homeowners to purchase solar systems and lower their utility bills.

Under this business agreement, homeowners will be able to use HERO financing to purchase Vivint Solar systems and pay for them over time through their local property taxes. Payments are made at a fixed interest rate for terms of five to 20 years, and the interest on the payments may be tax deductible. Since it is expected that the system will stay with the home and provide utility savings into the future, any remaining balance on the assessment may be able to transfer to a new homeowner at the time of sale.

The announcement of this relationship comes at the same time as the Federal Housing Administration’s recently issued federal policy guidance that endorses PACE financing.

“We are excited to work together with Renovate America to provide this solar financing product that will make solar available to a range of consumers, including those who either do not have the upfront capital for a solar energy system or for whom traditional loans, Power Purchase Agreements or Solar System Lease Agreements are not viable options,” said Vivint Solar Executive Vice President of Capital Markets, Thomas Plagemann. “We are pleased with the new FHA guidelines that open the door to wider acceptance of the PACE financing product throughout the United States.”

Since its launch at the end of 2011, HERO, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, has financed more than $1.5 billion of improvements such as solar, energy-saving roofing, windows, and doors, more efficient HVAC systems, and building insulation. About a quarter of the home energy improvement projects – around 19,000 – have been rooftop solar installations.

“More than 67,000 homeowners have invested in the efficiency of their homes,” said Greg Memo, executive vice president of business development and product strategy at Renovate America. “Vivint Solar and Renovate America are able to provide more families the ability to go solar and lower their utility bills.”

Vivint Solar is rolling out the HERO Program throughout California, and both companies are working with state and local governments to expand this product offering nationwide.

Roofinox Displays Its Line of Stainless Steel Roofing Products to Contractors and Architects

Roofinox displays its line of stainless steel roofing products to contractors and architects attending the Moon in June Machinery Show in Lynchburg, Va. The annual exposition is specifically developed to showcase the latest advancements in roofing machinery and materials by N.B. Handy Company, HVAC equipment and supplies.

“We appreciate Roofinox’s participation in this year’s event,” says Paul Seufer, general manager of the N.B. Handy Machinery Group. “Our goal is to spotlight sheet metal fabrication machinery and materials available in the marketplace. This includes the interactive display of services in an environment where customers can experience processes and benefits first-hand. Roofinox’s stainless steel roofing products offer forming characteristics that run through our equipment.”

“It is a privilege to work alongside N.B. Handy,” says Dave Rowe, vice president at Roofinox America. “This event provides a wonderful opportunity for building professionals to interact with experts, ask questions and actually witness how our products work with their equipment under in-field conditions.”

Roofinox provides a range of tin-plated (Terne) products designed to offer sustainability and corrosion-resistance for wall-cladding, flashing, rainware, interior design and virtually all forms of roofing applications. Roofinox Tin-plated (Terne) is specifically developed and manufactured for roll forming and fabricating.

Developed to withstand climatic conditions found in Central Europe, the Roofinox Stainless Steel product line is ideal for applications ranging from rural, urban and light industrial areas to historic and commercial sites and coastal environments. With ongoing exposure to the elements, Roofinox Tin-plated (Terne’s) surface will develop an elegant matt grey patina finish over time.

A substitute for lead-coated copper, zinc/tin-zinc coated copper, Terne-coated materials, galvalume and lead, Roofinox Tin-plated (Terne) is available in coil or sheet. Materials can be ordered by themselves so customers can do their own forming or prefabricated by a Roofinox distributor.

Adapt Existing Roof Curb to New Rooftop Unit

A Thybar Multi-Zone Retro-Mate is custom made to adapt your existing roof curb to a new rooftop unit.

A Thybar Multi-Zone Retro-Mate is custom made to adapt your existing roof curb to a new rooftop unit.

A Thybar Multi-Zone Retro-Mate is custom made to adapt your existing roof curb to a new rooftop unit. It saves time and costly roof reconstruction, preserves roofing integrity, reduces system downtime, and takes advantage of existing multi-zone ductwork. Convert a single-zone constant or variable-volume rooftop unit into a variable-volume multi-zone. Our comprehensive library of new and old rooftop specifications lets us design a matching Retro-Mate without extensive field measurements. Reduced engineering and construction time lets you bid more competitively. Licensed P.E. on staff.

Adapt Existing Roof Curb to a New Rooftop Unit

A Thybar Retro-Mate is custom made to adapt the existing roof curb to a new rooftop unit.

A Thybar Retro-Mate is custom made to adapt the existing roof curb to a new rooftop unit.

A Thybar Retro-Mate is custom made to adapt the existing roof curb to a new rooftop unit. It saves time and costly roof reconstruction, preserves roofing integrity, reduces system downtime, and takes advantage of existing ductwork. The comprehensive library of new and old rooftop specifications allows for the design of a matching Retro-Mate without extensive field measurements.

Thermal Spacers Create Continuous Insulation for Metal Buildings

SNS Thermal Spacers from Sealed “N” Safe are a cost-effective and easy-to-implement thermal bridge system between the outer shell and the inner frames of a metal building.

SNS Thermal Spacers from Sealed “N” Safe are a cost-effective and easy-to-implement thermal bridge system between the outer shell and the inner frames of a metal building.

SNS Thermal Spacers from Sealed “N” Safe are a cost-effective and easy-to-implement thermal bridge system between the outer shell and the inner frames of a metal building. Because the SNS Thermal Spacers reduce HVAC operating costs by as much as half or more, the return on investment is between 12 and 18 months. SNS Thermal Spacers are proven safe and effective, tested per AISI, ASTM, ICC and U.S. Energy Codes and structurally sound and watertight. The company provides solutions for architectural panels, standing seam panels, through-fastened panels, wall panels and complete building envelope systems.

179D and Other Expired Tax Deductions Are Extended

On Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (HR 5771). This officially extends the section 179D Tax Deduction along with over 50 other expired incentives for individuals and businesses retroactively through the end of 2014.

The Tax Increase and Prevention Act is simply a one-year extension to section 179D Tax Deduction and does not make any technical changes to the 179D Tax Deduction. The following is a clarification of the use of the 179D Tax Deduction and the applicability moving forward.

    In the private sector the 179D Tax Deduction will now be available for projects placed in service from Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2014.

    For public sector designers and contractors looking to have government/public buildings allocate the deduction to their companies, the 179D Tax Deduction will be available for open amendable tax years which for most companies will include projects placed in service from 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014.

    Baseline requirements for the qualification of 179D Tax Deduction will remain 2001 ASHRAE 90.1.

    The qualifying criteria and benefit will remain the same for the 179D Tax Deduction: Buildings will be able to qualify for a maximum of $1.80 per square foot if they achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy cost savings. Partial deductions are still available for lighting, HVAC and building envelope at $0.60 per square foot per category of qualification. The qualifying energy cost savings percentages remain at 25 percent for lighting, 15 percent for HVAC and 10 percent for building envelope.

    179D Tax Deductions under the interim lighting rule are still available for a maximum benefit of $0.60 per square foot and could range between $0.30-$0.60 per square foot for lighting power densities reduction between 25 to 40 percent respectively. Bi-Level switching will still be required when certifying lighting projects under the interim lighting rule.

    No changes were made to the type of building owners who can allocate the 179D Tax Deduction to designers and contractors. The 179D will still be able to be allocated by government owned buildings only. Private owners, non-profits, tribes, etc., will not be able to allocate the 179D Tax Deduction.

    An allocation letter is still required for government/ public agencies to allocate the 179D Tax Deduction to designers and contractors. No changes have been made to the structure or requirement of the 179D Tax Deduction allocation letter.

If you have any projects or a commercial building that you would like reviewed for feasibility of 179D Tax Deduction qualification, visit Walker Reid Strategies.

Solar Racking System Meets Common Rooftop Challenges

Silverback Solar's engineering department was able to utilize as much roof space as possible for solar panels by elevating them above HVAC equipment with the Silverback Solar racking system.

Silverback Solar’s engineering department was able to utilize as much roof space as possible for solar panels by elevating them above HVAC equipment with the Silverback Solar racking system.

A barrel roof with HVAC equipment and skylights is not the ideal platform for a crystalline panel solar system, but a watertight attachment system from Silverback Solar allows architects, engineers and contractors to work with such challenges.

Silverback Solar’s mounting system features a roof attachment system that creates a completely watertight structural mounting point. It also features a patented adjustable sprocket to allow adjustments with the curvature of the roof. The Silverback product is lightweight and durable, which makes the building of the racking easy and faster to install. The ability to adjust the bracing and supports makes the racking very adaptable to varying roof terrains. More importantly, there is no cutting of materials since the racking comes precut and bundled per array, which is also identified per location on the site layout from Silverback.

Each part is labeled alphabetically, so all that is needed is a measuring tape, protractor to confirm the pitch and a 5/16 impact driver to install the self-drilling screws to hold the brackets to the pipe.

Silverback Solar designs, manufactures and distributes engineered racking systems for mounting photovoltaic and solar thermal systems. Solar panel racking systems work on commercial flat and low sloped roofs as well as ground mount applications.

Rooftop Equipment Mounting and Penetrations for Low-slope Standing-seam Metal Roofs

Standing-seam metal roofing offers a durable, sustainable alternative to other roof types and can provide maintenance-free service for five to 10 decades. Sadly, this exceptional lifespan often is sabotaged with the mounting of essential rooftop equipment and ancillary mechanicals.

Metal roofing can make use of special seam-clamping hardware that grips the standing seam without puncturing the membrane. Seam clamps have made metal roofing a preferred roof type for mounting photovoltaic solar arrays. PHOTO: Metal Roof Advisory Group Ltd.

Metal roofing can make use of special seam-clamping hardware that grips the standing seam without puncturing the membrane. Seam clamps have made metal roofing a preferred roof type for mounting photovoltaic solar arrays.

Regardless of the roof type involved, consultants generally agree that the best way to prevent roof-related problems is to clear the rooftop of everything possible and just let it function as a roof—not a mechanical equipment platform. However, such a perfect roof continues to elude us, as it becomes necessary or convenient to mount HVAC equipment, screens to hide it, piping to fuel it, scuttles to access it and walkways to service it. The list of rooftop mountings also may include plumbing vents, satellite dishes, lightning protection, snow retention systems, solar collectors, advertising signage and fall-protection systems to maintain all the foregoing. To help achieve relatively trouble-free roofs, this segment provides some basic understanding of the dos and don’ts in situations where rooftop equipment mounting is requisite.

Penetration-free Attachment

A good “first rule” about any rooftop mounting is to avoid penetrating the membrane whenever possible. While this may seem obvious, the tenet is often violated with standing-seam metal. The norm for attaching things seems to involve anchoring the item to the structure through the roof. When this happens, it not only threatens weather integrity, but can also violate the membrane’s thermal-cycling behavior by inadvertently pinning the panel to the structure. Such a point of attachment will fatigue and fail from forces of thermal expansion within a short time. Fortunately, scores of items and equipment can be securely mounted to metal rooftops without any penetration whatsoever, actually making metal roofing more user-friendly than other roof types.

In terms of mounting ancillaries, metal roofing can use special seam-clamping hardware that grips the standing seam without puncturing the membrane. Unlike many other types of roofing, metal is a rigid, high-tensile material. The seam area creates a beam-like structure that can provide convenient anchorage for walkways, solar arrays, condensing units and gas piping without harming the roof’s weathering characteristics. Mechanicals can be safely and cost-effectively secured to these seam clamps, leaving the roof membrane penetration free. Seam clamps can provide holding strength of up to several thousand pounds on some profiles and gauges, last the life of the roof and preserve thermal-cycling characteristics. Using seam clamps when possible for ancillary mounting will eliminate unwanted holes and other potential problems.

Seam clamps allow even cumbersome ancillary items to be attached to metal roofs without penetrating the rooftop. PHOTO: Metal Roof Advisory Group Ltd.

Seam clamps allow even cumbersome ancillary items to be attached to metal roofs without penetrating the rooftop.

Clamps should be made only of noncorrosive metals—typically, aluminum with stainless-steel mounting hardware. These metals are compatible with virtually anything found on a metal roof, except copper (with which there are dissimilar metallurgy issues). Dissimilar metals in electrolytic contact will induce galvanic corrosion of the less noble metal. In cases involving copper roofing, brass clamps should be used with stainless-steel hardware.

Seam clamps generally integrate with the profile and seam folding, and in some way “pinch” the seam material to anchor them in place. Preferred methods of doing this involve setscrews tightened against the seam causing a detent in the seam material that in turn creates a mechanical interlock of the setscrew, seam and clamp, providing the greatest holding strength and durability. Setscrews should have round, polished points to prevent galling metallic coatings, which can lead to corrosion. In like fashion, and regardless of the method of engagement, any clamp device should avoid any sharp points or nodes that could potentially pierce or gall metallic coatings of steel or cause fatigue and fracture points of other metals.

It also is important to remember that any loads introduced into the clamp will be transferred to the panels and their anchorage to the structure. Consequently, anchorage must be capable of withstanding the added load. The best practice is to utilize clamps that have been appropriately tested for material and seam-specific holding strength; be sure in-service load does not exceed that of the published holding strength, including factors of safety. The roof manufacturer should also be consulted with respect to approval of devices used.

Pages: 1 2 3 4