Sustainable Roofing Doesn’t Just Benefit the Earth, It’s Good for Business

Energy efficiency has become a key focus in the roofing sector. This photo showcases solar panels on a spray foam roof, a combined solution that both creates and conserves energy in a structure. Photo: Huntsman Building Solutions

Not too long ago, sustainable roofing and building was simply a novel concept. Though achievable, it proved far from financially feasible for builders and developers who simply couldn’t command the pricing it then required, giving them little ability to offer it in any standardized way. However, the last two decades have been marked by substantial material advances as well as the dramatically increased adoption of those materials. Customer awareness and demand, in both the residential and commercial sides of the business, along with tax incentives, green building finance programs, corporate sustainability initiatives, certifications, and a dramatic shift in consumer awareness of environmental impacts and ways to reduce them, are all now contributing to improved ROI in earth-friendly roofing and structures.

Today, sustainable roofing and construction are far from unique. The financials have evolved and it’s now feasible from a budget perspective to build with materials that protect the environment. Not only that, it’s simply good for business in many ways. Here’s why.

Resilient Roofing Materials Are in Higher Demand

As storms and inclement weather conditions increase in both frequency and magnitude, demand for resilient roofing materials, for both re-roof and new construction applications, are growing dramatically.

The United States has experienced a series of formidable weather events the past few years. Notably, the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season will long be remembered as one of the most prolific and disastrous on record, with Hurricane Maria’s decimation of Puerto Rico; Maria and Irma’s extensive damage incurred in the Virgin Islands; Hurricane Harvey’s brute strength, rainfall and destruction as a cyclone over Texas, Louisiana and the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys; and others. The same year, California’s years-long drought and heat wave continued, culminating in prolific destructive wildfires. In September 2018, the Southeast was hit with Hurricane Florence, which caused catastrophic damage and deaths in the Florida panhandle and the Carolinas, primarily as a result of freshwater flooding. In 2019, the longest running drought in California since the U.S. Drought Monitor began and lasted well into the spring. Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas with record-breaking maximum sustained winds of 185 mph then reached a Category 5. In the third quarter of this year, California’s wildfires wreaked record damage in the state and extended north, bringing severe damage in Oregon and Washington.

Roofing materials designed to provide the customer with a much better shot at withstanding harsh weather events such as these offer longer lifespans — one important determinant of sustainability — than those that don’t. As the industry shifts towards focusing on manufacturing and installing products with resilience capabilities, it will better meet customer demand while simultaneously encouraging the longevity of roofing products.

Consumers and Businesses Want to Reduce Environmental Impacts

Like many other types of products, construction materials and technologies have advanced tremendously over the past decade and become more sustainable. In roofing specifically, the environmental focus has shifted toward energy efficiency. As product advancements and benefits have grown, manufacturers have ramped up marketing, highlighting innovation and sustainability benefits. Undoubtedly, consumers, businesses and investors are now all increasingly calling for a meaningful reduction in the environmental impacts of their homes and structures, with roofing being a key component of this. Whether a manufacturer, contractor or builder, this demand across key audiences cannot be ignored if you want to run a successful business today.

Efficient Buildings Contribute to Energy Independence

The roofing and construction industries’ collective move toward energy-efficient building has been occurring over the past several years with significant momentum. Improved indoor comfort, reduced environmental footprint and long-term energy savings are regularly touted as legitimate benefits of energy efficient roofing. Yet there’s another aspect of this story not often discussed — energy independence. The direct link between roofing materials that conserve large amounts of energy, and therefore dramatically reduce fossil fuel use, is real and can be measured. However, a gap still exists in the average consumer’s understanding of this link. At the same time, there’s a strong national desire for energy independence.

If the industry comes together to better educate customers on the direct relationship between high-performance roofing materials and reduced fossil fuel burning, we can encourage energy independence as a core advantage. This will benefit customers, business, and the Earth, while encouraging a stronger roofing industry and overall economy.

Recycling Can Fuel Manufacturing

The use of recycled materials in the manufacturing of roofing materials is on the uptick, as seen across different material categories. One of the newer developments in recycled materials is the diversion of plastic water bottle waste, otherwise destined for landfills and the oceans, into the manufacturing of spray polyurethane foam roofing materials. One key result is that less of the harmful plastic will negatively impact our treasured marine species and our food sources. However, another is positive bottom line impacts to business as the waste has become a consistent material source for manufacturing.

While everyone is likely to agree that environmentally conscious roofing is the responsible choice for the Earth and future generations, it’s become much more than that. It’s now what customers want and it opens the door for new ways to source materials. Understanding the full scope of opportunities is paramount to not only remaining relevant, but to growing your roofing business.

About the author: Dave Feitl is VP Global Roofing and Western USA SPF Sales of Huntsman Building Solutions, a global provider of high-performance spray polyurethane foam and coatings. For more information, visit www.huntsman.com.

Duro-Last Recognizes Superior Services RSH, Inc. for Outstanding Michigan Recycling Project

Duro-Last, Inc. recognized Superior Services RSH, Inc. for their outstanding work on a recent rooftop recycling project in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Lansing, Michigan-based commercial roofing contractor removed and recycled over 8,700 pounds of Duro-Last PVC roofing membrane, ensuring that the material found new life and remained out of the landfill.

Through Duro-Last’s Recycle Your Roof program, mechanically attached Duro-Last membrane at the end of its useful life on the rooftop can be returned to Duro-Last. This material is then repurposed into a variety of new products including resilient flooring, walkway pads, and concrete expansion joints. 

For this particular project, the Bishop Elementary School in Ypsilanti had a Duro-Last roof that had outlived its warranty and the administration was ready to replace it with a new Duro-Last system. The Superior Services team was able to remove over 77,000 square feet of membrane and ultimately save the district a significant amount of money.

“Our company culture focuses on environmental friendliness and sustainability so we’re excited when we have the opportunity to work on a project like this,” explained Superior Services Vice President Derek Heins. “When we proposed this option to the administration and highlighted that not only would they save money in disposal fees, they could help reduce their environmental impact, they were excited to participate.”

“The Superior Services team did a phenomenal job on this project, meticulously removing the existing membrane to ensure every bit of material could be recycled,” said Duro-Last Sustainability Specialist Katie Chapman. “We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for this project, and it’s always rewarding to see the positive environmental impact that can be made by the thoughtful efforts of contractors like Superior Services.”

To learn more about Duro-Last’s sustainability efforts and Recycle Your Roof program, visit www.duro-last.com/sustainability 

For more information about Duro-Last, visit www.duro-last.com.

DaVinci Roofscapes Recycles 820,000 Pounds of Waste

Efficient operations, new blending systems and a dedicated focus on the environment allowed DaVinci Roofscapes to recycle 820,000 pounds of composite scrap in 2017. The excess shake and slate roofing tiles were crushed, then ground down and used to create starter tiles for the roofing company.

“The big story this past year is that our company molded 30 percent more pounds of roofing tiles than in 2016 while simultaneously reducing our scrap by 242,000 pounds over the past year,” says Bryan Ward, vice president of operations at DaVinci Roofscapes in Lenexa, Kan. “This is a terrific achievement when considering Earth Day and our companies’ dedicated commitment to the environment.

“We were able to advance production while reducing scrap by enhancing our recycling efforts. Searching for ways to reduce waste is a full-time dedicated endeavor at our company.”

Thanks in part to an investment in a new blending system, which makes manufacturing operations more efficient, the team at DaVinci Roofscapes sold zero scrap to outside firms in 2017.

“It’s very significant that we were able to recycle and reuse 100 percent of all scrap items at our facility last year,” says Ward. “In 2016 we transferred 567,000 pounds of scrap to an outside end-user who makes pallets, crates and totes. That’s a great use for the product because it doesn’t end up in landfills. However, in 2017 our company was able to keep every pound of scrap in-house and reuse it for our own products. That’s a significant achievement.”

DaVinci Roofscapes continues to meet their goal of zero scrap going into landfills. The industry’s leading composite shake and slate manufacturer produces polymer slate and shake roofing tiles in 49 standard colors, plus custom colors.

Each time the manufacturing operation changes color runs, there is a transitioning between colors.  Those transition tiles are “off spec,” cannot be used and are recycled. The tiles — which are 100 percent recyclable — are segregated by color and then ground up and molded into starter shingles, which are generally unseen on the roof.

“Every year we take stock on Earth Day to evaluate the progress of our recycling operations and share the good news about our enhanced efforts,” says Ward. “Our manufacturing operation continues to become more efficient each year.

“The fact that we increased manufacturing production of roofing tiles in 2017 while substantially decreasing the amount of scrap generated is a huge accomplishment. We’re on a path toward continually making our operations more efficient, which is great for the environment.”

For more information, visit www.davinciroofscapes.com.

DaVinci Roofscapes Recycles 1.2 Million Pounds of Polymer Scrap

DaVinci Roofscapes has kept more than 1.2 million pounds of polymer scrap out of landfills in 2016. The recycling effort includes the remolding of more than 696,000 pounds of grinded scrap into starter tiles and the transfer of 567,000 pounds of scrap to an end-user who makes pallets, crates and totes.

“Our goal is zero percentage of scrap going into a landfill,” says Bryan Ward, vice president of operations at DaVinci Roofscapes in Lenexa, Kan. “We are always looking for ways to recycle and reuse every piece of waste in our plant.”

“We made a capital investment in regrind machinery in recent years that’s paying off. Over the past two years we’ve decreased our trash generation by more than 50 percent annually. That’s a number we’re proud of and hope to improve upon even more in the future.”

DaVinci Roofscapes produces polymer slate and shake roofing tiles in 50 standard colors, plus custom colors. Each time the manufacturing operation changes color runs, there is a transitioning between colors. Those transition tiles are off spec and are recycled. The tiles, which are 100 percent recyclable, are segregated by color and then ground up and molded into starter shingles, which are generally unseen on the roof.

“We view Earth Day as a time to evaluate the progress of our recycling operations and share the good news about our efforts,” says Ward. “Our operation is efficient. Between reusing the regrind polymer and selling off additional scrap, we’re excited to prevent more than 1.2 million pounds of scrap from sitting in a landfill this year.”

The team members at DaVinci Roofscapes develop and manufacture polymer slate and shake roofing systems. DaVinci leads the industry in the selection of colors, tile thickness and tile width variety. The company’s products have a limited lifetime warranty and are 100 percent recyclable. All DaVinci roofing products are made in America where the company is a member of the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Roofing Contractors, the Cool Roof Rating Council and the U.S. Green Building Council.

Henkel Offers Recycling of Anaerobic Adhesives Program

Henkel is partnering with TerraCycle to offer a recycling solution for anaerobic adhesives. Through the Adhesive Recycling Program, Henkel customers can purchase a postage-paid recycling box that they fill with used LOCTITE adhesive containers and send to TerraCycle for processing. TerraCycle will thermally treat the containers and turn them into new plastic products.

“As a company with a commitment to sustainability, we think this is a great way to offer an environmental solution to our customers,” said Simon Mawson, senior vice president general adhesives, North America. “We hope they will appreciate the option of recycling used LOCTITE containers instead of sending material to landfills and incinerators and use it to achieve their own sustainability targets.”

Sustainability is one of Henkel’s core corporate values. By the year 2030, the company aims to triple efficiency by reducing their products’ environmental footprint at every stage of the product life cycle. The Adhesive Recycling Program aligns with that initiative, diverting used LOCTITE containers from local landfills and incinerators.

“We are breaking ground with our Henkel partnership,” said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. “This is the first time we have recycled this anaerobic adhesives and we hope it will be an eye opener to an industry that has previously not had an option to recycle adhesive containers.”

Henkel sales reps will be reaching out to customers about the program. Interested companies can also contact their local LOCTITE distributor for more information.

300,000 Pounds of Polymer Roofing Tile Scraps Are Recycled Annually at DaVinci Roofscapes

The 45th anniversary of Earth Day in 2015 puts a shining spotlight on recycling efforts around the country—including at DaVinci Roofscapes in Kansas. That’s where more than 300,000 pounds of polymer roofing tile scraps are recycled each year.

“Most manufacturing operations have scrap materials,” says Bryan Ward, vice president of operations at DaVinci Roofscapes in Lenexa, Kan. “The difference here is that every roofing tile we create is 100 percent recyclable, so we are able to reuse every pound of scrap that comes off our production line into our roofing material’s starter shingles. This saves a significant amount of material from going to the landfill, along with making us an efficient, environmentally friendly operation.”

With more than 300,000 pounds of scrap recycled annually, DaVinci doesn’t stop there. The polymer slate and shake roofing manufacturer offers two recycling programs that provide a way for roofers to return scraps, cuttings and unused synthetic roofing material to the company’s facility for recycling.

Waste products from a job site can be returned to DaVinci’s Kansas plant for recycling (with shipping paid for by DaVinci within a 500-mile radius of the plant) and expired tiles (those older than 50 years old) can also be returned for recycling. Ward estimates that almost 5,000 pounds of product are returned from field projects each year for recycling.

Selecting polymer roofing tiles also helps save trees and energy. “Every time someone chooses a DaVinci roof instead of wood shakes, trees are saved—often young growth cedars that are difficult to harvest, produce low-quality shingles and further deplete our limited resources,” says Ward. “Natural slate roofs present other problems. The quarrying process consumes large amounts of labor and fuel and can be harmful to the local ecosystem. Up to 15 percent of natural slate tiles crack or break up during installation, so waste is significant. Because DaVinci tiles weigh one-third as much as natural slate of comparable thickness, transportation energy costs and carbon emissions are lower.

“Just as it’s important to us that all our sustainable roofing products are Made in America, it’s also vital that we keep our earth as clean and healthy as possible for future generations,” says Ward. “We’re a company that celebrates Earth Day every day of the year. By creating roofing products that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process standards, we’re taking a step toward saving valuable resources.”

Roofing Manufacturers and Contractors Embrace Recycling

In the early 2000s, as the green-building movement reached its tipping point, the roofing industry’s contributions to sustainability focused on increasing energy efficiency, improving long-term durability and addressing the heat-island effect. In the years since, significant strides have been made in all three of these areas for commercial and residential buildings.

In recent years, increasing attention has been given to the benefits and challenges of recycling roofing materials at the end of their useful life. This is no trivial task: Owens Corning estimates asphalt shingles alone comprise up to 5 percent of building-related landfill waste. This doesn’t take into account other roofing materials, including EPDM, thermoplastic PVC and metal.

Not surprisingly, rising removal costs, coupled with the growing demand in some areas of the country to legislate landfill content, are putting pressure on contractors and building owners to seek alternatives to traditional roof construction scrap and tear-off disposal methods.

In response, greater numbers of roofing manufacturers and contractors are driving strategies to avoid the landfill. A general review of emerging trends across the roofing industry suggests manufacturers and contractors increasingly are turning to recycling to steer these materials from the waste stream.

Steel is the most recycled material in building construction today. PHOTO: STEEL RECYCLING INSTITUTE

Steel is the most recycled material in building construction today. PHOTO: STEEL RECYCLING INSTITUTE

METAL

Metal roofing’s sustainable attributes are significant. Industry experts cite its ability to improve a building’s energy efficiency, and metal today contains anywhere from 25 to 95 percent recycled material.

On its website, the Chicago-based Metal Construction Association (MCA) encourages installing metal roofing directly over an existing roof, thus eliminating the need to dispose of the original materials. But when an older metal roof or new-construction debris must be removed from a site, contractors and owners in most regions of the country can quickly identify scrap yards that take metal.

“Steel is the most recycled material in building construction today,” says MCA Technical Director Scott Kriner. “There’s an infrastructure that supports it, and metal in general is virtually 100 percent recyclable.” Kriner notes MCA supports recycling as part of the metal industry’s overall commitment to environmental sustainability and transparency in business.

PVC

PVC has been used in roofing systems since the 1960s, and the post-consumer recycling of roof membranes began in North America in 1999—a nice symmetry when one considers roofs in terms of 30-year life cycles.

In general terms, the recycling of PVC roofing is a relatively straightforward process. The material is sliced into long strips, rolled up, lifted off the roof and transported to a recycling center. Recyclers run the PVC through a conveyor system, where fasteners and other metal objects are removed.

Initially, the recovered membrane was ground into powder for reuse in molded roof walkway pads. More recently, some manufacturers have been incorporating a granulated form into new PVC roofing membranes, exclusively on the backside to avoid aesthetic issues with color variations. The first installations of membrane produced with post-consumer recycled composition occurred in the mid-1990s. So far, its field performance has matched that of PVC roofing produced with virgin raw materials.

The Vinyl Institute, Alexandria, Va., says close to 1 billion pounds of vinyl are recycled at the postindustrial level yearly. “The vinyl industry has a history of supporting recycling,” the institute reports on its website, “and this effort continues as companies, alone and through their trade associations, expand existing programs and explore new opportunities to recover vinyl products at the end of their useful life.”

EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer is used extensively on low-slope commercial buildings. Yet even this durable synthetic rubber membrane must eventually be replaced, and today recycling is a viable option.

The removal process generally involves power-vacuuming off the stone ballast, where present, to expose the EPDM membrane below. The membrane can then be cut into manageable squares, which are folded and stacked on pallets, loaded onto a truck and transported for recycling. The recycler grinds it into crumbs or powder, depending on the end use. A growing number of recycling centers nationwide now handles EPDM.

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ASTM International and Sustainable Roofing

ASTM International is a well-known standard-writing organization for the construction industry and other industries. As the building design and construction industries have moved toward more sustainable methods and products, it follows that more standardization of sustainability is necessary. This is certainly true for the roofing and waterproofing industry. ASTM now has a group devoted to developing standards for sustainable roofing.

Organizationally, ASTM is divided into numerous committees, each having a specific focus. The ASTM D08 committee is responsible for roofing and waterproofing standards. Within the D08 committee, there are multiple subcommittees that focus on a segment of the roofing/waterproofing industry—from asphalt shingles to spray polyurethane foam to modified-bitumen membranes to single-ply membranes and more. D08.24 is the subcommittee that is developing standards specifically related to sustainable roofing.

Further division of each subcommittee into Task Groups allows narrowly focused groups to develop standards for very specific topics. There are currently four Task Groups within D08.24:

  • D08.24.01 Guidelines for Sustainable Design
  • D08.24.03 Recycling Practices and Reporting Methodology
  • D08.24.04 Durability
  • D08.24.05 Selection Criteria Vegetative Roof Membranes

Process

Standards are developed by Task Groups with active participation by attendees at the semi-annual meetings. Typically, a draft standard (called a work item until it is an approved standard) is initially sent out for ballot to the Task Group to obtain comments that will improve the draft standard. After balloting to the Task Group, the draft standard is balloted to the full D08 membership. At times, a standard is simultaneously balloted to the Task Group and the full membership. During the balloting process, comments and negative votes are reviewed and dealt with according to ASTM protocols. Standards development is a very linear process that works well to achieve a consensus in the D08 committee. Once a consensus is reached, the standard is published for use.

The background on the process is necessary to understand the activities of the D08.24 subcommittee. Because the subcommittee was only recently established, all standards are still in the development stage.

Task Group Specifics

The D08.24.01 Task Group is developing a new standard, work item WK26599, which is currently titled “New Guide for Design of Sustainable, Low-Slope Roofing Systems”. The current scope is:

  • This Standard provides guidance for designing sustainable low-sloped roofing systems, including exposed membrane roofs, membranes covered with vegetative (green) overburden systems, ballasted roofs and protected membrane roofing assemblies. A sustainable roofing system minimizes environmental impact, conserves energy, and has maximized service life.

The scope recognizes the roof’s primary function is to weatherproof the building’s top surface.

The document provides a sequential process for designing sustainable roof systems. The document does not provide a prescriptive approach, but “attempts to help the user define and consider roofing system demands and environmental life cycle impacts, and integrate these with features that contribute environmental, energy conservation, or other benefit in service” through a number of considerations, which include roofing demands, functional expectations, end-user requirements and site restraints. The document is big-picture, technology-neutral and process-based.

The D08.24.03 Task Group is developing a new standard, work item 24614, currently titled “New Guide for Recycling Practices & Reporting Methodology”. The intent of the document is to unify common practices and develop an industry-accepted reporting format for recycling common roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles. The document is in its infancy and has not been balloted to date.

The D08.24.04 task group is developing a new standard, work item 26595, currently titled “New Guide for Roof System Durability”. The task group is still evaluating the specific scope but will focus on PVC and EPDM membranes in two separate documents. The intent is to provide methodology to evaluate the variables that lead to increased durability of PVC and EPDM roof systems. Neither document has been balloted yet.

The D08.24.05 Task Group is developing a new standard, work item 29304, currently titled “New Guide for Selection of Roofing/Waterproofing Membrane Systems for Vegetative (Green) Roof Systems”. The document will provide technology-neutral considerations for selection of appropriate membranes for vegetative roofs. The Task Group is expected to begin the balloting process soon.

Liaisons

The ASTM D08.24 group works with other groups, like E60 on Sustainability and the Built Environment Advisory Committee, to ensure continuity of ideas with all ASTM committees. Specifically, E60.01 on Buildings and Construction and E60.80 on General Sustainability Standards are in the focus of the D08.24 liaison efforts.

The ASTM sustainability standards are intended to be used by the roofing, construction and design industries to formalize the efforts toward more sustainable roofs and roofing. It is hoped that other roofing groups, such as ARMA, CEIR, ERA, NRCA and SPRI, will reference ASTM’s sustainability standards in their documents.

I encourage everyone in the roofing industry to not only join ASTM, but to participate in the development of the standards our industry uses each and every day. ASTM D08.24 needs your input as the roofing industry moves further toward sustainable products and activities.