RCI Technical Advisory Committee Offers Position Statement on Cool Roofs

The RCI Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has released a position statement, which has been published on the RCI website. RCI has previously released position statements for a variety of issues, but this is the first one written by the TAC.

TAC Chair Doug Stieve led the development of this position statement. As leader, he recruited officemate Kenrick Hartman to provide assistance. Hartman is a member of the RCI Emerging Professionals Committee, which approached the TAC a number of months ago, asking if it could use the assistance of EP Committee members. The TAC gladly accepted the experiment. The purpose of the resulting joint program is to provide young RCI members with a means of gaining professional involvement and experience by contributing to a real-world task that benefits RCI members. According to RCI, Stieve and Hartman’s teamwork was successful and such collaboration between the TAC and the EP Committee is planned to continue as the TAC produces future Technical Advisories or Position Statements.

Links to Position Statements and Technical Advisories can be found here.

For more information, visit http://rci-online.org.

RCI Manual of Practice Goes Digital

RCI Inc. announced that the RCI Manual of Practice is now available exclusively as an interactive PDF. According to the association, users can jump to various sections from the table of contents, search the document, and access it from any screen. The Manual of Practice Task Force is currently working on a revision of the 2010 manual.

The RCI Manual of Practice is designed to be a standard for practitioners performing roof, exterior wall, and waterproofing consulting and quality assurance functions. The manual is intended to provide a peer-reviewed structure for the practice of consulting in the construction of the building envelope, according to RCI. In simple terms, it describes what a professional consultant does and how the consultant does it.

For more information, visit www.rci-online.org.

Are You Meeting Thermal Insulation Code Requirements?

Photo 1. Conditions such as this, in which the fastener plates melt the snow, visually demonstrate the heat loss that is a known entity to roof installers and knowledgeable roofing professionals.

You may have overheard conversations such as this:

New Building Owner: “You promised energy conservation and savings.”

Mechanical Engineer: “We sized the mechanical unit based on the code required effective thermal value.”

New Building Owner: “But why are my cost 30 percent above your estimates and I am needing to run my units constantly and they still barely maintain a comfortable environment?”

Mechanical Engineer: “We have checked all the set points and systems and they are all working, albeit with a bit of laboring. We don’t know why there is not enough heat.”

New Building Owner: “Well, someone is going to have to pay for this!”

Scenarios and liability questions like this are being repeated across the northern North American continent, and to mechanical engineers, architects and owners, the cause is a mystery. Perhaps they should have talked to seasoned roofing professionals and consultants. They could’ve told them that many mechanically attached roofs, incorrectly promoted and sold as energy-saving systems, were actually energy pigs. One only needed to walk a mechanically attached roof with a few inches of snow on it to see the heat loss occurring. It doesn’t take scientific studies and long-winded scenarios to prove this — just get up on the roof and see it. (See Photo 1.)

Photo 2. When a light dusting of snow blew off this 2 million-square-foot facility in central Illinois, every single mechanical fastener and insulation joint could be identified by the ice visible at their locations. This roof needed to be replaced due to condensation issues several years after installation at a cost of more than $10 million.

I spoke on this topic back in 2007 at the RCI Cool Roofing Symposium. I always like being a soothsayer, and several recent studies are demonstrating and attempting to quantify this energy loss that most roofers could tell you was there.

For years the NRCA suggested a loss of thermal value of 7 percent to 15 percent through the joints in a single-layer insulation application and through mechanical fasteners used to secure the insulation. (The NRCA has since removed this figure and suggests that professionals be consulted to determine thermal heat loss.) The NRCA recommended a cover board to reduce this effect. This was at a time when roof covers were predominantly BUR, modified bitumen or adhered single plies. The upsurge in mechanically attached single-ply membranes, brought on by low-cost installation and the promise of energy savings, changed the game. No one was asking, if there could be a loss of 7-15 percent when mechanically attaching insulation, what could the effective R-value loss be when we install thousands of fasteners and plates 12 inches on center (or less) down a membrane lap seam? Gee, haven’t we seen that before?

Code Requirements

The code and standard bodies — ICC, IECC, ASHRAE — have been repeatedly raising required thermal insulation values over the past decade in an attempt to conserve energy; that is their intent. They listened to astute designers and

Photo 3.This is close-up of the roof shown in Photo 2. Heat loss through the screws and fastener plates and through joints in the single layer of insulation melted the snow. The water froze when the temperatures dropped and the ice was revealed when a light wind pillowed the membrane and the remaining snow blew away.

prescribed two layers of insulation, and then again to determine the minimum R-value and not allow averages. The intent is clear. The required R-value per ASHRAE zone is to be achieved.

Their goals were laudable, but not all roof systems achieved the in-place R-values required. So, this article is in part an attempt to educate code officials and explain the need for a change.

Words can explain the phenomenon of thermal loss, but photos are worth a thousand words, and since my editor has told me that I cannot have a 4,000-word article, I leave it to the photos to do the talking. (See Photos 2, 3 and 4.)

Scientific Studies

In their Buildings 2016 article titled “Three-Dimensional Heat Transfer Analysis of Metal Fasteners in Roofing Systems,” Singh, Gulati, Srinivasan and Bhandari (Singh) studied the effect of heat transfer through thermal bridging (mechanical fasteners) in various roof assembly scenarios.

Their study exposes a shortfall in many standards that have as their goal a reduction in energy loss through building envelope systems through prescriptive approaches. For roofing assemblies, standards prescribe a minimum R-value, but they do not take into consideration the heat loss that happens though metal fasteners. There are no guidelines or recommendations in regards to thermal loss, including the loss of heat through roof system fasteners. It’s actually ignored.

Figure A: The effect of mechanical fasteners below the roof cover in mechanically attached roofs is not negligible as considered by general standards. As can be seen here for systems 1A and 1 B, in which mechanical fasteners are used in the lap seams of the roof cover (systems 3A and 3B have the fasteners below a layer of insulation), the actual thermal value loss caused by mechanical fasteners can be as high as 48 percent, as seen in system 1A with a high density of mechanical fasteners. As the mechanical fastener density decreases (1B), the heat loss also decreases. Thus, a correlation appears to exist in which heat loss due to thermal bridging is proportional to the fastener density.

The results of the Singh study, as seen in the graph (Figure A), show that the effects of thermal shorts, e.g., mechanical fasteners used to secure the roof cover, is not negligible. In fact, thermal shorts can result in a loss of 48 percent of the effective value. Read that again! The thermal value of the roof insulation layer on which the mechanical engineer has in part sized the mechanical equipment — and which the owner is counting on for significant energy savings — could be about half of what was assumed. Add in gaps and voids, and the loss in the effective R-value could top 50 percent. What that means is that to achieve the code required R-30, say in Chicago, mechanically fastened roof systems need to have R-45 in the design to meet the effective code required R-value. This last sentence is for the code bodies — are you listening?

The value of this study cannot be underestimated, as thousands of buildings have been constructed since its publication that would not meet an effective R-value check in a commissioning study.

Changing the Code

The energy inefficiency of mechanically attached roof systems in ASHRAE zones 4 and above has been known to roofing crews for decades. Now, with the requisite scientific studies completed, the codes need to be revised to reflect the inherent thermal loss through mechanical fasteners. Additionally, studies from Oak Ridge National Laboratory highlight the energy increase required with inherent air changes below the membrane, confirming the need for air/vapor barriers on the deck on mechanically attached roof assemblies. (See “The Energy Penalty Associated with the Use of Mechanically Attached Roofing Systems,” by Pallin, Kehrer and Desjarlais.)

Photo 4: Heat loss also occurs through adhered roofs when the insulation is mechanically attached.

As a starting point for code groups and officials, I suggest the following code revisions:

  1. State that if a mechanically attached roof cover is being used that the prescribed thermal R-value shall be increased by 50 percent.
  2. State that if a mechanically attached roof cover is being used that an air barrier below the insulation must be used and that it shall be fully adhered to penetrations and roof perimeters.

Closing Thoughts

The goal of energy conservation is a laudable one. The American Institute of Architects’ goal of zero-energy building by 2030 will never be met until real-world empirical information can be presented at code hearings. (For those of you who do not attend code hearings or know the process, information is usually disseminated in two-minute sound bites without documentation.) This lack of information sharing is a travesty and has resulted in numerous code changes that have been detrimental to the goal of energy savings. Time has come for a new way of thinking.

IRCC Confirms Lionel van der Walt as 2018 Keynote Speaker

The 2018 International Roof Coatings Conference (IRCC) is pleased to have new RCI Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Lionel van der Walt kick off the biannual event in Chicago. As an organizational strategy and analysis expert, van der Walt has a unique background to bring to the building industry with more than 20 years of international executive leadership and association experience.

The conference will be held July 23 – 26, 2018 at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois. Van der Walt will focus on bringing positive change to the workplace across the building industry. He will discuss the strong potential for increased collaboration within the roofing industry and the need to educate governments and consumers to the tremendous economic value of the roofing, waterproofing and building envelope industries, both globally and in the US.

For more information, visit https://roofcoatingsconference.com.

Abstracts for RCI Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium Due April 13

RCI Inc. is now accepting abstracts for papers to be presented at the RCI Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium. The symposium will take place September 13-14, 2018, at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale in Mississauga, Ontario.

Abstracts of each paper (200 words) should be received at RCI headquarters by April 13, 2018. The RCI Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium Committee will review abstracts, and authors will be notified regarding acceptance of abstracts by April 20, 2018. If accepted, papers should be received by May 25, 2018, for peer review.

Potential authors should contact Tina Hughes at RCI headquarters via email at thughes@rci-online.org for a copy of the Abstract Submittal Form and RCI Guidelines for Presentations, complete directions on formatting, and acceptable formats for abstracts and papers. A topic description must be provided addressing the speaker’s subject knowledge and the level of knowledge that will be presented to the attendee (i.e., beginner, intermediate or advanced). Six RCI CEHs will be granted for an accepted paper. Additionally, presenters will earn triple credit for the length of the program (one presentation hour yields three CEHs).

Suggested topics include:

  • Innovative Technologies & Practices
  • Façade Systems & Technologies
  • Unique Façade Design Solutions
  • The Building Envelope as a Design Statement
  • Energy Conservation Design
  • Designing Façades That Will Improve Indoor Air Quality
  • Economics & Life Cycle Analysis
  • Panelized Stone or Masonry Systems
  • Sealants – Design & Selection / Appropriate Specifications/Quality Assurance
  • Hygrothermal Analysis in Façade Designs
  • Façades Designed to Achieve Sustainability
  • Unique Detail Design Work
  • Curtainwalls
  • Double-Wall Façades
  • Roofing
  • Brick Masonry
  • Stone Masonry
  • Waterproofing
  • Stucco
  • EIFS
  • Metal Wall Panels
  • Air-Barrier Systems
  • Testing Wall Systems
  • Construction Processes
  • For more information, download the 2018 RCI CBES Call for Abstracts PDF and visit http://rci-online.org.

    RCI Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium Call for Abstracts

    RCI, Inc. is excited to announce the first ever RCI Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium. The symposium will take place September 13-14, 2018, at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale, Mississauga, ON.

    We are now accepting abstracts for papers to be presented at the Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium. Abstracts of each paper (200 words) should be received at RCI headquarters by April 13, 2018. The RCI Canadian Building Envelope Technology Symposium Committee will review abstracts, and authors will be notified regarding acceptance of abstracts by April 20, 2018. If accepted, papers should be received by May 25, 2018, for peer review.

    Potential authors should contact Tina Hughes at RCI headquarters for a copy of the Abstract Submittal Form and RCI Guidelines for Presentations, complete directions on formatting, and acceptable formats for abstracts and papers. A topic description must be provided addressing the speaker’s subject knowledge and the level of knowledge that will be presented to the attendee (i.e., beginner, intermediate or advanced). Six RCI CEHs will be granted for an accepted paper. Additionally, presenters will earn triple credit for the length of the program (one presentation hour yields three CEHs).

    Download the 2018 RCI CBES Call for Abstracts PDF for more details.
    Suggested topics include:

    • Innovative Technologies & Practices
    • Façade Systems & Technologies
    • Unique Façade Design Solutions
    • The Building Envelope as a Design Statement
    • Energy Conservation Design
    • Designing Façades That Will Improve Indoor Air Quality
    • Economics & Life Cycle Analysis
    • Panelized Stone or Masonry Systems
    • Sealants – Design & Selection / Appropriate Specifications / Quality Assurance
    • Hygrothermal Analysis in Façade Designs
    • Façades Designed to Achieve Sustainability
    • Unique Detail Design Work
    • Curtainwalls
    • Double-Wall Façades
    • Roofing
    • Brick Masonry
    • Stone Masonry
    • Waterproofing
    • Stucco
    • EIFS
    • Metal Wall Panels
    • Air-Barrier Systems
    • Testing Wall Systems
    • Construction Processes

    For more information, visit http://rci-online.org.

    RCI Now Accepting Scholarship Applications

    RCI has announced that applications for the RCI Foundations’ Robert W. Lyons and Lewis W. Newlan scholarships are now being accepted. The application window runs through February 28, 2018.

    According to the organization, up to two scholarships of $5,000 each will be awarded in honor of Robert W. Lyons. As many as ten scholarships of $2,500 each will be given through The Lewis W. Newlan Award.

    Applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for the scholarships:

    • Be a current undergraduate or graduate student who has completed a minimum of 24 credit hours and is planning to enroll full-time at an accredited college, university, or vocational/technical school for the entire 2018-19 academic year in an accredited program of architecture, engineering, construction, or building sciences leading to a career in the construction or building envelope industry.
    • Have a minimum grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale (or the equivalent).
    • Be a citizen of the United States or Canada.

    For more information and to apply, go to https://www.scholarsapply.org/rcif.

    RCI Inc. Names New Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

    RCI Inc. announced the appointment of Lionel van der Walt as its new executive vice president and chief executive officer. Van der Walt succeeds James Birdsong, who will retire at the end of 2017 after nearly 17 years at the helm.

    An organizational strategy and analysis expert, van der Walt brings to RCI more than 20 years of international executive leadership and association experience. He spent the early part of his career as an officer in the South African Air Force and, subsequently, over a decade with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He was most recently President of the Cargo Network Services (CNS) and a member of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Board of Directors.

    “Lionel’s management style and leadership skills really stood out among a great group of candidates,” said RCI President Michael L. Williams. “His ability to team with other organizations for the benefit of all will surely lead to RCI being recognized as the group leading the building envelope design and consulting industry.”

    Van der Walt’s immediate task will be to enhance the recognition and influence of RCI in the industry. He will further strengthen RCI’s mission through continued improvement of the association’s ongoing education and accreditation programs and its publications, which include RCI Interface technical journal, textbooks, and reference guides. As CEO, he will lead the 2018 33rd RCI International Convention & Trade Show to be held March 22-27, 2018, in Houston.

    “I will be doing a great deal of listening to employees, board members, committee heads, and members to better understand what works and where we might have opportunities to improve,” said van der Walt. “I look forward to some honest and frank feedback that will help us to shape the future direction of the organization, with a strong emphasis on helping our members to secure a healthy, profitable, and sustainable future for the building envelope consultants industry globally.”

    Formed in 1983, RCI now boasts over 3,500 members across the United States, Canada, South America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit http://rci-online.org.

    RCI Elects Board of Directors at Annual Meeting

    RCI has elected its 2017-2018 Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting of the Members during the RCI 32nd International Convention and Trade Show in Anaheim, Calif. Board contact information may be accessed online. The following are members of the board:

     

    RCI Mourns the Death of Its Founder, Robert ‘Bob’ Lyons

    RCI’s founder, Robert “Bob” Lyons passed away March 16, 2016. It was Lyons’ vision, dedication and drive that brought RCI into existence. RCI was founded in 1983 by Lyons after spending three years of forging his concept into reality. From that initial charter membership of 30, the association has grown to more than 3,000 members today.

    We have been informed by his family that in keeping with Lyons’ wishes, there will be no funeral service. Lyons’ wife, Norma, shared that a memorial service will be held in the future, but currently no date has been set. Those members wishing to email Norma may contact RCI for additional information.

    As those who attended the recent RCI convention are aware, RCI declared Sunday, March 13 to be Robert Lyons Day to honor Lyons. During the awards ceremony, several members recounted the influence that Lyons had over their careers. Following their comments, Lyons was awarded the RCI Lifetime Achievement Award. As Lyons was not in attendance, his son Jason accepted the award on his behalf and spoke a few words about his father. We understand that prior to his passing, Jason was able to convey what had transpired at the convention and shared that Lyons acknowledged his understanding with a smile.

    Lyons’ family also suggested that those who would like to consider a gift of remembrance are encouraged to do so through the RCI Foundation. The foundation recently established the Robert Lyons Scholarship to aid college students in the engineering, architecture and construction science fields of study.