A Trade Association Brings Roofs to the Sustainability Discussion

Roofs, first and foremost, keep water and the elements out of a building. The roofing industry has done this quite well since the modernization of buildings began more than a century ago. Along the way, a number of trade associations—ARMA, ERA, MCA, NRCA, PIMA, SPFA, SPRI—have formed and evolved as materials and trends have changed. Each group provides excellent information relative to its mission and goals. Yet we know change keeps coming.

THE BYRON WHITE COURTHOUSE, DENVER, features a RoofPoint-certified high R-value (R-30) roof for energy savings. A dual-reinforced Derbigum modified bitumen membrane, 90-mil base sheet and a high-density coverboard were installed.

THE BYRON WHITE COURTHOUSE, DENVER, features a RoofPoint-certified high R-value (R-30) roof for energy savings. A dual-reinforced Derbigum modified bitumen membrane, 90-mil base sheet and a high-density coverboard were installed.

Since the turn of the century, the awareness and push for energy efficiency of buildings and the sustainability for materials and building design has grown substantially and has become an important topic in the public forum. Sustainability and environmentalism are universal topics.

Serving as a unified voice for issues involving roofing, energy and the environment, the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing was established in Washington, D.C., in 2008. The non-profit organization’s focus is to advocate and promote the use of environmentally friendly, high-performance roof systems, not just within the U.S., but in North America and globally. The center is a member-based association consisting of roofing manufacturers, roofing contractors, roofing consultants, raw-material suppliers and other trade groups within the roofing industry.

To promote the sustainability of roof systems, the center develops resources, products and educational information that can be used by the building industry to advance the longevity, durability and overall sustainability of roofs. Increased awareness of the importance of a building’s roof is critical to the center’s mission. The roof can be a large contributor to the energy efficiency of the building, a long-term asset and, increasingly, a location for energy production (solar, wind).

ROOFPOINT

The center’s premier program is RoofPoint, a guideline for environmentally innovative nonresidential roofing. RoofPoint is used to evaluate new and replacement roofs for commercial and institutional buildings based on their environmental performance during the life cycle of the building the roof covers. This provides a useful measure for what constitutes a sustainable roof during design, construction, operation and decommissioning.

RoofPoint is primarily a rating system, and when certain minimums are met, a roof can become a RoofPoint Certified roof. Certificates and plaques noting RoofPoint certification can be awarded and used to validate a commitment to sustainability and the environment.

RoofPoint is based on current state-of-the-art processes and methods, remaining technology neutral. It does not rank or prioritize materials or systems; however, RoofPoint emphasizes energy efficiency and long-term performance and durability as overarching key attributes of a sustainable roof. Material recycling and reuse, VOCs, water capture and reuse, hygro-thermal analysis, and operations and maintenance are a few of the categories within RoofPoint.

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New Roof Must Last as Long as the Solar Panels It Supports

As thousands of Silicon Valley employees exited Hewlett-Packard (HP) global operations headquarters to head home for the evening, a crew of 25 roofers–under the glare of temporary spotlights–toiled diligently. They were fastening thousands of 1/2-inch DensDeck Prime coverboards to the 10-year-old insulation system covering the building’s metal deck.

Originally planned to be white, Hewlett-Packard ultimately selected a tan-colored membrane, to reduce glare because two levels of the building have glass-to-ceiling windows that allow visual access to the roof.

Originally planned to be white, Hewlett-Packard ultimately selected a tan-colored membrane, to reduce glare because two levels of the building have glass-to-ceiling windows that allow visual access to the roof.

Soon after, they adhered a single-ply, fleece-faced, tan-colored Sika Sarnafil EnergySmart roof membrane to the DensDeck Prime boards, creating a state-of-the-art 300,000-square-foot reroof. The added protection was much-needed, as it provided the durability and compressive strength to safely accommodate a massive system of solar panels that were installed atop 85 percent of the roof.

“We chose DensDeck Prime because it provides the best support for the new membrane, the existing roof and all the (solar) equipment that will go on top of it,” explains Steve Nash, vice president of Waterproofing Associates, who designed the reroof system in conjunction with Ted Christensen of Independent Roofing Consultants, and selected the materials to make it work. “With all the weight that will be bearing directly on the roof membrane, we need the ultimate roof substrate.”

Installing the massive, electricity-generating system of solar panels was an intricate endeavor, especially because its presence will complicate any repairs to the roof during the solar energy system’s anticipated 25-year life cycle. The building owner called on Nash to create a roof with a life cycle that would mirror the life of the solar panels.

The building owner desired a roof with a life cycle that would mirror the 25-year life span of the solar panels, which cover 85 percent of the roof.

The building owner desired a roof with a life cycle that would mirror the 25-year life span of the solar panels, which cover 85 percent of the roof.

“If the roof were to need repairs, the solar panels would have to be disassembled and out of service until the repairs are finished. And that can’t happen,” Nash adds. “Basically, we have to build a virtually maintenance-free roof.”

Protection—Above and Below

Cost-effective because of its energy efficiency and high levels of dimensional stability, the Sika Sarnafil G410 membrane is frequently installed over an underlayment of DensDeck Prime because its surface treatment provides a stronger bond for adhered membrane applications. Also, DensDeck Prime roof boards’ high pounds per square inch (PSI) compressive strength is an advantage as a durable platform for roofs with heavy equipment, like solar panels, on top.

Adding further complexity to the building’s new roofing system was the fact that the owner chose only to replace the original membrane—from another manufacturer—that had sprung a number of leaks in recent years. Keeping the remainder of the original roof—2 inches of fiberglass insulation, a built-up gravel surface and 1/2 inch of fiberboard—saved considerable time and money, as well as avoided having to send thousands of pounds of materials to landfills.

However, it did require adding the layer of DensDeck Prime to do double duty: carefully protect the layers of the original roof that would remain while forming the foundation for the Sika Sarnafil membrane.

Upon completion of the five-week project, which was conducted only at night and on weekends so the noise wouldn’t interrupt the HP employees during normal work hours, the new roof is aesthetically pleasing. Originally planned to be white, the owners ultimately selected a tan-colored membrane, to reduce glare because two levels of the building have glass-to-ceiling windows that allow visual access to the roof.

Nash notes the new roof’s beauty will only be exceeded by its durability. “With thousands of pounds of solar panels sitting on top of it, the roofing membrane cannot fail. So you get the best materials available to make it last—and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

S-5! and LM Curbs Celebrate 20 Years of Collaboration

S-5!, a provider of attachment technology for the metal roofing industry, celebrates its 20-year association with LMCurbs, a single-source supplier of metal roofing accessories. Impressively, LMCurbs has sold more than 8 million S-5! product components during that time.

According to S-5! CEO, Rob Haddock, when it comes to attaching metal roof applications, “S-5! and LMCurbs have maintained a successful relationship because of our mutual commitment to genuine innovation and the highest quality standards.”

VP of Marketing at LMCurbs, Clint Funderburk, agreed wholeheartedly, saying: “Partnering with S-5! has really proven to be a jointly-profitable business venture. Each member on our carefully selected team represents the highest level of expertise in their respective skill. So what we’re finding at LMCurbs is that architects and contractors look to us for answers when it comes to finding solutions for the most challenging aspects of metal roofing applications. We, in turn, are able to provide them with truly innovative and unique attachment solutions by S-5!”

LMCurbs was the first distributor to carry the world-renown S-5! ColorGard bar snow-retention system and was also the first to carry the globally popular S-5-PV Kit for mounting solar. LMCurbs distributes the full line of S-5! products, including the two newest S-5! innovations, the X-Gard pipe snow retention system and the Utility System.

RISE Announces New Certified Solar Roofing Professional Eligibility Track

Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) has announced a new eligibility track for its Certified Solar Roofing Professional (CSRP) designation, which will enable a greater number of solar roofing professionals to qualify for this certification.

The new eligibility track allows those who have three years’ experience, involvement in a minimum of five projects installing commercial and residential roof-mounted PV systems, and 40 hours of recognized education and training eligibility to sit for the CSRP exam.

In the past, RISE had identified three eligibility tracks to qualify to take the exam. Candidates were required to demonstrate they meet at least one of these tracks.

The new track has been added to the list of the previous three minimum entry tracks, which are:

  • Three years’ experience installing roof systems as a roofing contractor or employee of a roofing contractor in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized education or training.
  • Three years’ experience providing technical roof system consulting services that include a minimum of five installed roof system projects in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized training programs.
  • Two- or four-year construction-related degree from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency or state-approved agency recognized by the U.S. secretary of education or training.

“The RISE board of directors recognized that many rooftop solar professionals possess the unique roofing and PV system experience critical to the roles of a CSRP, but who previously were not eligible to sit for the exam,” explains RISE executive director, John Schehl. “The new eligibility track opens a door of opportunity for these professionals and provides greater choice to the public.”

RISE and the CSRP credential benefit roofing professionals by demanding a higher standard for all rooftop solar installations by providing a distinguished, nationally recognized professional credential that can enhance a career, satisfying consumers by protecting their roofing and solar investments, increasing the number of successful rooftop solar installations, providing the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals, promoting a healthier roofing industry by differentiating between those who understand how to integrate those systems with the roof safely and effectively from those who simply understand PV systems, and ensuring roof-mounted PV systems work is overseen by individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced in roofing and PV system technologies, safety and construction processes.

RISE was created by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and the National Roofing Contractors Association to provide a means of evaluating and certifying solar roofing professional to support the widespread use of rooftop solar energy. RISE evaluates and certifies solar energy installers for knowledge about critical roof system construction and maintenance practices necessary to support successful rooftop solar energy installations based on principles regarding the installation and maintenance of rooftop solar energy systems without adversely affecting roof system performance and service life. RISE also provides the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals.

Web-based Platform Allows Individuals and Organizations to Support Clean-energy Development

SolarCity is transforming energy delivery by making solar power more accessible and affordable than previously possible. Now the company wants to provide a new avenue for individuals and institutions from around the world to participate in and benefit from that transformation. SolarCity has announced plans to launch a new, Web-based investment platform through which it intends to allow a broad range of investors, including individuals and organizations of all sizes, to participate directly in solar investments that have previously only been available to large financial institutions.

“People want to support clean energy development. Customers are seeing the benefits of getting solar for their homes but they would like to participate in other ways as well,” says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “Previously, only institutional investors could participate in the financing of most solar assets. With our investment platform, we’re hoping to allow far more individuals and smaller organizations to participate in the transformation to a cleaner, more distributed infrastructure.”

SolarCity has acquired a privately held financial technology company, Common Assets LLC, which developed the investment platform SolarCity will use to distribute its investment products. Tim Newell, the president and chief executive officer of Common Assets, and John Witchel, Common Assets’ chief architect, have joined SolarCity as part of the transaction. Newell, who will serve as SolarCity’s vice president of financial products, brings more than 25 years of investment, technology and government experience, including roles as senior advisor to private equity firm US Renewables Group; managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s clean technology affiliate fund; managing director and head of investment banking for E*Trade’s investment banking affiliate, E*Offering; and head of investment bank Robertson Stephen’s financial technology group.

Witchel, who will serve as SolarCity’s senior technology architect for financial products, is an experienced technology executive and successful entrepreneur with experience in large-scale financial innovation. Notably, Witchel was co-founder and chief technology officer of Prosper Marketplace, where he oversaw design and development of the first person-to-person online lending marketplace in the U.S. Common Assets was backed by U.S. Renewables Group (USRG), a private equity firm that specializes in renewable energy investments, and Jim McDermott, managing partner of USRG, served as chairman of Common Assets prior to the acquisition.

“SolarCity’s financial products will provide an exciting new opportunity for people to make an impact—both for their own financial future and our global future—by investing in the shift to solar energy,” says Newell. “Unlike crowdfunding and community solar approaches that typically aggregate investors to provide loans for individual projects, SolarCity plans to offer debt investments backed by diversified portfolios of solar assets.”

2013 Solar Employment Grew 10 Times Faster than the National Average Employment Growth Rate

The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, has released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. That figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period. Read the full report. State-by-state jobs numbers, including a more detailed analysis of the California, Arizona, and Minnesota solar markets, will be released in February.

“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” says Andrea Luecke, executive director and president of The Solar Foundation. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly skilled workers. That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

Solar employers are also optimistic about 2014, expecting to add another 22,000 jobs over the coming year. By comparison, over the same time period, the fossil-fuel electric generation sector shrank by more than 8,500 jobs (a decline of 8.7 percent) and jobs in coal mining grew by just 0.25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics current Employment Survey (not seasonally adjusted), September 2012 – November 2013.

“The solar industry is a proven job-creator,” says Bill Ritter, former governor of Colorado and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. “In Colorado and across the country, we have seen that when the right policies are in place to create long-term market certainty, this industry continues to add jobs to our economy.”

“SolarCity has added more than 2,000 jobs since the beginning of 2013; every single one in the United States. When you install a solar panel you create a local job that can’t be outsourced,” says Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. “More than 90 percent of Americans believe we should be using more solar, and fewer than 1 percent have it today. We’ve barely begun this transformation, but as it advances, the American solar industry has the potential to be one of the greatest job creators this country has ever seen.”

Solar companies are also reporting that cost savings are driving their clients’ decision making, as 51.4 percent of customers report going solar to save money and another 22.9 percent because costs are now competitive with utility rates.

“Tens of thousands of new living-wage jobs have been created over the past year thanks to plunging solar technology costs, increasing consumer demand, and supportive government policies,” says Amit Ronen, director of The George Washington University Solar Institute. “As the nation’s fastest growing energy source, we expect the solar industry will continue to generate robust job growth for at least the next decade.”

The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 was conducted by TSF and BW Research Partnership with support from the GW Solar Institute. The report, derived from data collected from more than 2,081 solar firms, measured employment growth in the solar industry between September 2012 and November 2013. The margin of error of this data set is +/- 1.3 percent, significantly lower than any similar national industry study.

“The study shows both aggressive hiring and clear optimism among US solar companies,” says Philip Jordan, vice president at BW Research Partnership. “Of particular interest was the continued high wages among solar installers, who earned an average of between $20 and $23.63 per hour. We also found higher than average employment of veterans in the solar industry, a sign that their high-tech skills are valued in this sector.”

“SunPower is proud to be a global leader in solar power technology and energy services, creating thousands of American jobs and injecting billions into the U.S. economy,” says SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “We employ about 1,000 people at facilities in 10 states and are actively hiring hundreds more. Our network of approximately 400 dealers employs more than 6,000 across the U.S., and two of our major solar power plants last year created 1,300 jobs at peak construction. Solar is a competitive, reliable resource, and an economic success story for America.”

Financing Available for Renewable Energy Projects of 500 kW to 25 MW

Conergy, a solar photovoltaic service and solution provider, has launched its Conergy Fund I program. The program, which provides financing to large-scale construction projects in the United States, makes the use of and savings from solar power a possibility to businesses.

With an initial target volume of $100 million and backing by Conergy’s main investor, Kawa Capital Management, The Conergy Fund I provides financing for solar power plants and qualified commercial projects with renewable energy capabilities between 500 kilowatts and 25 megawatts of power. The fund streamlines the financing process by managing the financial analysis, credit rating, administration and finance, billing, and collection of power purchase agreements (PPAs) on behalf of the project.

“The Fund is ideal for mid-to-large size organizations such as municipalities, school districts, utility companies, and investment-grade corporations because the savings achieved last for decades,” says Anthony Fotopoulos, CEO of Conergy Americas. “Not only are these entities reducing energy consumption, but the fixed energy prices secured through the PPAs are significantly lower than market prices for conventional grid power, providing additional savings to the end-user.”

Access to competitive financing that can monetize local and federal incentives is a key barrier to the widespread adoption of solar photovolatics (PV) via PPAs – only about 40 percent of commercial buildings or power plants are able to secure this financing. The fund bridges this gap by removing the funding barrier that has historically hampered organizations from installing photovoltaic (PV) systems on their facilities.

Through The Fund, Conergy and its partners also provide project development and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, including engineering, design, and subsequent operations and maintenance management.

Kawa Capital Management acquired Conergy in August 2013 to create a globally unique player in the solar energy industry. Conergy’s expertise in providing complete solar energy solutions and Kawa’s established financial and management strategies were the groundwork for the Conergy Fund I program and will serve as the foundation for future financial solutions in the US electricity market.

“The Conergy Fund I program is the first step in a long relationship with Kawa. We already have five projects in the United States utilizing The Fund and expect to develop and acquire projects in other growth markets in 2014,” says Fotopoulos.

S-5 Announces Metal Plus as New Distributor

S-5!, a manufacturer of ancillary attachment technology for the metal roofing industry, has announced its most recent full-line distributor, Metal Plus LLC.

Metal Plus produces a line of standing-seam brackets designed to simplify temporary staging or scaffolding for metal roofing projects. Because the Metal Plus brackets allow contractors to get to work quickly and safely, they make an excellent platform for installing S-5! products. Pairing these two product lines, roofers, contractors and solar integrators can quickly and cost-effectively attach solar arrays, snow retention systems and other ancillaries to metal roofs without damaging the roof.

Rob Haddock, CEO at S-5!, feels confident the relationship is a good fit for both companies and states: “At S-5! we take innovation, development, thorough testing, and proper market introduction very seriously. We pride ourselves in providing only the best solutions in the metal roofing industry, and I have been impressed with Metal Plus’s commitment to the same.”

According to Mario Lallier, owner of Metal Plus: “We realize that becoming a distributor for S-5! marries two great products, destined to make life for metal roofing installers and contractors much easier. The synergy between metal roofs, S-5! clamps, and Metal Plus brackets equals cost and labor savings upwards of 15 to 25 percent.”

Nashville, Tenn., Begins Revitalization of Its City Center with a New Convention Space that Features a Truly Unique Roof

It isn’t often that a nightmare becomes a pleasant reality. Andy Baker, vice president of Raleigh, N.C.- based Baker Roofing, recalls the year he spent as project manager for the roofing of the new Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., as one of his most challenging jobs. “The logistics, a tight spot downtown, the size of the project and everything that goes along with that—thousands of people trying to work and everyone needs their material in that area at the same time. Even the unique shape of the building made it hard,” Baker remembers. “We’re glad it’s done and we can look back on it now and say: ‘Wow! We did that.’”

The Music City Center was built to be the catalyst for more development in the SoBro neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn. It is intended to create a diverse economy that won’t be affected if flooding occurs, like in May 2010.

The Music City Center was built to be the catalyst for more development in the SoBro neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn. It is intended to create a diverse economy that won’t be affected if flooding occurs, like in May 2010.

Baker and his crew of up to 50 roofing workers have much to be proud of. The completed project is the largest capital construction project in Nashville’s history and was designed to bring prosperity to the area known as SoBro, or South of Broadway, which was affected by massive flooding in May 2010. The Music City Center lies outside the flood-prone areas and hopefully will be the catalyst for more development, which will create a diverse economy that won’t be affected if another flood occurs.

In addition to the Music City Center’s imaginative design that resembles various musical instruments, the building boasts a number of features that are ideal for a high-profile project. Many of these features are located in the most opportune of places—the roof. An Energy Star-qualified thermoplastic PVC membrane covers the 643,752-squarefoot roof while a 186,700-square-foot vegetated roof literally mimics the rolling hills of Tennessee’s Highland Rim. The rooftop also hosts a 211-kilowatt solar-power system on the 1-acre area that is over the Grand Ballroom, a rooftop space that resembles an acoustic guitar in shape. Lastly, the roof collects rainwater that is funneled to a 360,000-gallon tank before it is used to irrigate the site and flush hundreds of toilets inside.

Construction Challenges

Baker and his colleagues knew the Music City Center would present many challenges even before work began. “We knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare going in but then you have to live it,” he recalls. “You would think four city blocks would be a large enough area to work from but there were thousands of contractors working and receiving materials at the same time. Trying to keep truck drivers and suppliers happy was difficult. The community was great though; there were a lot of police officers around to direct traffic.”

Baker Roofing's team of up to 50 roofing workers spent one year working on the Music City Center.

Baker Roofing’s team of up to 50 roofing workers spent one year working on the Music City Center.

Installation also proved perplexing because of the roof’s undulating slopes of 1/4:12 to 12:12. Baker likens the rolls to waves and points out in some places they were almost conical in shape. In the areas in which there was no vegetated roof, the crew fastened two layers of 1.7-inch polyisocyanurate insulation followed by 1/4-inch roof board. Then a 60-mil thermoplastic PVC membrane in a light gray color was fully adhered to the assembly. The membrane features a lacquer coating to reduce dirt pickup.

Photos: Keri Baker

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

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

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

Roofing: When must you coordinate with roofing contractors?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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