Water Is Construction’s Worst Enemy

I have a water phobia. When I was very young I fell into a pool and nearly drowned. Consequently, I never learned to swim out of sheer fear. Despite my attempts to avoid it, water continues to haunt me. (See an article I wrote about my Chicago condo’s construction defects for some background.) It’s ironic I now live along the nation’s southernmost glacial lake. I love the view from our home, but the lake’s recreational opportunities are lost on me.

To further substantiate my negative feelings toward water, 2015 was an especially wet year for the Midwest. In mid-December, my Iowa town received 5 inches of rain in a day and a half. Our basement—where my office is located—flooded (for the second time since August). My husband bought the house (which he planned to make his lifelong bachelor pad) knowing the basement might leak during heavy-rain events. He never planned to have anything down there. Then I came along.

As this issue was coming together—around the same time our basement was soaked—I read a line in “Tech Point” that really resonated with me: “… water is construction’s worst enemy, so when it goes where it shouldn’t, it’s causing damage—seen or unseen.” I shared that line, which was written by Armand T. Christopher Jr., AIA, with my husband. The next week we hired a basement waterproofing contractor to solve our ongoing water problems.

Christopher’s story likely will resonate with you, as well. He and his team had recently installed a PVC roof system on a high-profile government building in central New Jersey. Six months after the install, a three-day nor’easter exposed numerous leaks in the building, which the client thought were coming from the new roof. The ensuing “detective work” Christopher’s team completed was tedious but uncovered the cause of the leaks and made Christopher and his colleagues heroes.

Christopher points out a nice feature of the roof’s thermoplastic cap sheet is areas where water had pooled within the roof system were dried and resealed with heat-welded target patches. Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CSI, RRP, builds upon this idea in his “From the Hutchinson Files” article. Hutchinson notes today’s “new age” roofs may not require removing all system components during reroofing. Instead, it may be in the customer’s best interest to consider restoration; roof-cover removal, enhanced with additional insulation; using the existing roof membrane as a vapor retarder; or membrane removal before installation of a new roof cover.

My husband and I seem to have found the best solution to our basement water problems. Although we’re not looking forward to the construction ahead, we are excited about all the things we can do with a dry basement. Right now, we’re envisioning a mini spa in which we can relax after a stressful workday—another welcome upgrade my husband never imagined for his “bachelor pad”.

A Magnificent New England Home Receives a Roof that Will Stand up to Harsh Winters

New England winters can be brutal, and the winter months of 2014-15 were ones for the record books. Roofs throughout New England suffered extensive damage from the crushing weight of snow and ice accumulation, including the nearly 7,000-square-foot Waterford, Conn., waterfront estate owned by John Antonino.

For a roof of this size and a home of this value—roughly $1.7 million—we knew we needed a very durable, reliable and proven combination of products to ensure a prolonged service life of maximum resistance to harsh weather.

For a roof of this size and a home of this value—roughly $1.7 million—we knew we needed a very durable, reliable and proven combination of products to ensure a prolonged service life of maximum resistance to harsh weather.


Gerald Stefanelii, a local Waterford contractor and custom homebuilder experienced with Cape Cod architecture, built the Antonino home 15 years ago. The family wanted its residence to be nestled in a prime waterfront location and selected a build site on the bank of the 5-mile-long Niantic River in Waterford, about 10 miles west of the historic seaport and iconic village of Old Mystic. Although the average snowfall in this area is 24 inches, the blizzard of 2015 brought more than 30 inches in a single storm, and prolonged periods of record-cold temperatures kept the accumulation from thawing. As a result of this weather, the intricately fashioned architectural-shingle roof on the Antonino home became delaminated, and ice damming led to serious damage inside of the home, as well.

When Mr. Antonino—whom I have done business with in the past—contacted my company, Advanced Improvements LLC, Mystic, Conn., for an initial consultation, it was agreed that a new roof had to be able to withstand more winters like the one experienced the previous year. Following a thorough assessment of the damage and an in-depth calculation for a bill of materials by my sales and design team, we discussed our recommendations with Antonino.

For a roof of this size and a home of this value—roughly $1.7 million—we knew we needed a very durable, reliable and proven combination of products to ensure a prolonged service life of maximum resistance to harsh weather. This was to be Antonino’s first reroofing experience and, though he suggested a product line to us, we strongly recommended another line of products that we knew were more fitting for the specific needs of his home, including seaside and winter weather, as well as other environmental factors. He agreed, and the project was underway.

A Focus on Every Shingle

We brought in Don Carlson, a territory representative for the line of products we suggested. No matter which manufacturer a contractor uses, it is critical to have a solid rapport and ongoing interactive relationship with hands-on, factory-trained field personnel. Carlson has been a valued and knowledgeable resource to my company over the years. Whether my clients need to quickly see a sample or my team has installation or warranty questions, he has been there each and every time.

We estimated installation of the new roof system would call for a crew of 11 team members under my direct supervision. Because of my long-standing relationship with Antonino and his companies, I wanted to be hands-on with this important job. The bill of materials called for 95 squares of asphalt shingles and 10 rolls of underlayment. A dual-layer, laminated fiberglass shingle was chosen because of its high amount of weathering asphalt. The laminated fiberglass construction also keeps the shingles virtually impervious to deterioration and leakage. Add in a warranty and designer look that includes a multi-dimensional color (Weathered Wood was chosen) and you have a roof worthy of such a grand residence.

We began roofing work by stripping the roof, cleaning up debris and making all necessary structural repairs (the sheathing was not replaced). Ice and water barriers were put into place on the bottom of the eaves, around the roof, and on the valleys and sidewalls.

We began roofing work by stripping the roof, cleaning up debris and making all necessary structural repairs (the sheathing was not replaced). Ice and water barriers were put into place on the bottom of the eaves, around the roof, and on the valleys and sidewalls.


After obtaining the proper permit with the local municipality, our work began. Permits are a given, but my team and I have also found it very important to earn and maintain all the major manufacturer certifications possible. It is important that our clients see that Advanced Improvement’s craftsmen are fully factory trained, and we proudly display credentials and certifications from various manufacturers in our offices.

Roof Protection

We began roofing work by stripping the roof, cleaning up debris and making all necessary structural repairs (the sheathing was not replaced). Ice and water barriers were put into place on the bottom of the eaves, around the roof, and on the valleys and sidewalls. We applied a synthetic polymer-based scrim-reinforced underlayment, designed for use on roof decks, as a water-resistant layer beneath the asphalt roofing shingles. Next, F5 aluminum drip-edge was installed followed by the shingles. Finally, the ridge vents and caps went on to provide proper ventilation.

As with any job we do, the welfare of the people around the site and my personnel is paramount. The crew, keeping with OSHA requirements, used proper fall-protection equipment. Also, because of the home’s layout and complex roof angles, tarps were laid on top of plywood from the edge of the roof, extending 12 feet to prevent debris from falling around the property.

Antonino turned to my company because he had faith he would get the fairest price for the finest work with the job being completed on time and on budget. When I asked for his feedback, he provided comments that would make any contractor proud: “Advanced Improvements not only did a fantastic reroofing job, they were extremely respectful of my property,” Antonino said. “The cleanup was as thorough as the roofing job itself. Also, they actually finished ahead of schedule.” The job was completed in less than one week.

As you’re reading this article, New England’s autumn palette is giving way to blankets of white. That snow and ice will lay on the new roof at the Antonino residence. It’s highly unlikely that it will do anything but rest there until melted away. The new roof will protect the family from the elements 24/7, 365 for many, many years to come.

NRCA Releases Market Survey on Sales Volume Trends

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has released its 2014-15 market survey providing information about overall sales volume trends in the roofing industry, roofing experiences, material usage and regional breakdowns. It is an important tool to measure the scope of the U.S. roofing industry, and the data provides a glimpse into which roof systems are trending in the low- and steep-slope roofing markets.

This year’s survey reports sales volumes for 2014 and 2015 projections averaged between $7 million and just more than $8 million, respectively, and revealed a near-steady ratio of low- to steep-slope sales of 72 percent to 28 percent.

For low-slope roofs, TPO remains the market leader with a 31 percent share of the new construction market and 26 percent of the reroofing market for 2014. Asphalt shingles continue to dominate the steep-slope roofing market with a 44 percent market share for new construction and a 58 percent share for reroofing.

Polyisocyanurate insulation continues to lead its sector of the market with 75 percent of new construction and 70 percent of reroofing work.

In addition, roof cover board installation for 2014 was reported as 24 percent in new construction, 46 percent in reroofing tear-offs and 30 percent in re-cover projects.

NRCA’s market survey enables roofing contractors to compare their material usage with contractors in other regions, and provides manufacturers and distributors with data to analyze, which can affect future business decisions.

Roof Hugger Hosts Webinar for Metal-over-metal Retrofit Reroofing

Retrofit and reroofing accounts for about 80 percent of all roofing construction projects in the U.S. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), it is estimated that there are currently more than 25 billion square feet of metal roofs in the U.S. that are from 25 to 45 years old, most of them needing replacement.

Join New Tech Machinery and Roof Hugger in a webinar and learn key facts needed to be successful in this market.

Roof Hugger Inc. has been in the retrofit roofing market since 1991. Roof Hugger will be hosting a webinar focusing on metal-over-metal retrofit reroofing and sharing expertise. Questions will be answered during the presentation.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT. Click here to sign up for the webinar.

Insulfoam Introduces Branding for Full Line of EPS Insulation Products

To help design professionals, builders, homeowners and other customers more quickly find the insulation products they need, Insulfoam insulation offerings, including R-Tech insulations, are now categorized under the brand names InsulRoof, InsulWall and InsulGrade.

To help design professionals, builders, homeowners and other customers more quickly find the insulation products they need, Insulfoam insulation offerings, including R-Tech insulations, are now categorized under the brand names InsulRoof, InsulWall and InsulGrade.

Insulfoam, a manufacturer of block-molded expanded polystyrene (EPS), introduces branding for its full line of EPS insulation products. To help design professionals, builders, homeowners and other customers more quickly find the insulation products they need, Insulfoam insulation offerings, including R-Tech insulations, are now categorized under the brand names InsulRoof, InsulWall and InsulGrade.

“EPS is the only insulation you can use anywhere in the building envelope; at Insulfoam we offer specialized EPS products for use in roofs, walls, below grade and beyond,” says Ram Mayilvahanan, director of marketing for Insulfoam. “With such a huge product offering, this new branding helps our customers quickly find the right products to use among our numerous options. So, if you’re a roofer, you’ll look at the InsulRoof line to find your products, and don’t need to see InsulGrade below-grade options that aren’t applicable to current project needs.”

In conjunction with the new branding, Insulfoam has also revamped its website. The Insulfoam website now offers simple navigation to the major building categories: commercial and residential, with the InsulRoof, InsulWall and InsulGrade product groups clearly marked. The residential tab provides homeowners with home insulating tips for key areas, including energy saving tips for the house in basements and garage doors. Customers can also easily find on the new website Insulfoam’s other EPS offerings, including geofoam lightweight fill and EPS for cold storage buildings, flotation, packaging and architectural shapes.

Insulfoam EPS is 100 percent recyclable and offers a high R-Value per dollar. The features and benefits of InsulRoof, InsulWall and InsulGrade insulations are:

    InsulRoof

  • A wide range of faced, laminated and standard high-performance EPS insulation products for use on virtually any type of roof deck in new construction and reroofing applications.
  • Available in cost-saving applications including fanfold panel bundles, flute fill and tapered insulation.
  • Wide range of compressive strengths to help reduce insulation material costs.
  • Versatile to adapt to various roof shapes and roofing assemblies.
  • Products carry UL and FM labels.
    InsulWall

  • Full range of EPS insulation for use throughout walls, including cavity walls, on the interior faces of foundation walls, as exterior sheathing (including tongue-and-groove sheathing under stucco), gable ends, and as part of exterior insulation finishing systems (EIFS).
  • Insulfoam’s Total Wall System is one of the few insulated systems on the market that integrates weather resistant barrier (WRB).
  • Insulfoam EPS qualifies for several NFPA 285 compliant assemblies.
    InsulGrade

  • Full range of EPS products for use on foundation walls and under concrete floor slabs.
  • EPS outperforms extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulations in these applications due to EPS’s stable long-term R-value and moisture performance (it dries quickly and has minimal long-term moisture retention), and is lower cost.
  • Seven standard compressive strengths allow for more cost-effective specification without over-engineering the insulation under slabs.

Asphalt Roofing Provides Comprehensive Weather Protection for a Luxury Condominium

Working with the unique variables of a region and its climate poses a significant challenge to roofing contractors. Installing a roof system that looks beautiful and can stand up to ice, snow and freezing temperatures takes an expertise that only comes with experience. This is the case in the snowy and picturesque mountains of Park City, Utah. The city is a winter haven for skiers who vacation there, but the extended snow and cold season can deliver a beating to a roof.

The concrete tile roof and poorly ventilated deck were causing major problems for the building owner, not to mention the residents who live and rent there. Heat was escaping through the roof, causing the snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves.

The concrete tile roof and poorly ventilated deck were causing major problems for the building owner, not to mention the residents who live and rent there. Heat was escaping through the roof, causing the snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves.


The Grand Lodge at Deer Valley Resort, a luxury condominium development at one of North America’s top-ranked ski resorts, sits at an elevation of 9,000 feet in the mountainous area. Along with the breathtaking views comes an average annual snowfall of 350 inches. As a result, the 40,000-square-foot concrete tile roof of the lodge had begun to fail after only six years of intense weather and needed to be replaced immediately.

The concrete tile roof and poorly ventilated deck were causing major problems for the building owner, not to mention the residents who live and rent there. Heat was escaping through the roof, causing the snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves. Dangerous icicles would form, and noisy chainsaws were frequently needed to cut through the ice on the 5-story building. In 2013, the owner of the condominium decided to completely redesign the roofing system. IronClad Exteriors Inc., a Sandy, Utah-based roofing company had successfully installed roofs for Deer Valley in the past and was contacted by Deer Valley Resort Management to consult on the new design.

“Due to insufficient insulation and poor ventilation on the existing roof, ice dams were forming, tiles were cracking and the roof was falling apart,” says Eric Kircher, owner of IronClad Exteriors. “There was an architect involved in redesigning the roof … . I was asked to take a look at the design, and I recommended an asphalt shingle roof instead.

Kircher advised that a full asphalt roofing system with proper insulation and moisture protection would be able to withstand the harsh weather of the ski resort.

“Asphalt was the ideal material for the reroof for reasons that involve aesthetics, safety, and the long-term health and viability of the roof,” he notes. “I recommended a shake style because it really fit the architecture and look of the roof while being able to protect the building and residents from the weather conditions.”

Over the span of six months, IronClad Exteriors tore off the tile roof and installed a system they had used many times to help homeowners in the area protect their homes from ice and snow.

Over the span of six months, IronClad Exteriors tore off the tile roof and installed a system they had used many times to help homeowners in the area protect their homes from ice and snow.

Installation

Over the span of six months, IronClad Exteriors tore off the tile roof and installed a system they had used many times to help homeowners in the area protect their homes from ice and snow. FlintBoard ISO NB (Nail Base) Composite Polyisocyanurate/OSB Roof insulation was installed over the plywood deck, followed by a 3- by 10-inch fascia board. WinterGuard HT advanced waterproofing underlayment and DiamondDeck High Performance Synthetic Underlayment were then added to provide important moisture resistance. Finally, the Presidential Shake TL asphalt shingles provided a beautiful look that matched the lodge’s breathtaking surroundings. The project was completed in November 2014.

The Grand Lodge’s new asphalt roof also contains a unique feature that sets it apart in form and function. IronClad installed 11,000 copper snow guards that offer another layer of weather protection. Snow freezes around the copper pieces and keeps it from sliding down the roof to form dangerous ice dams at the eaves. Lodge residents no longer have to walk underneath potentially hazardous icicles or listen to the sounds of manlifts and chainsaws that are used to remove them.

“The roofing system we designed had the unique ability to withstand that type of cold environment,” Kircher notes. “There will be no heat loss contributing to ice and snow on the eaves, and the insulation protects the interior of the lodge. These are high-end condominiums with finished ceilings and no attic space at the top where you can put more insulation, so the insulation had to be installed on the existing roof deck to prevent ice dams.”

The installation process went smoothly despite the challenges brought on by Park City’s weather. Snow can begin to fall as early as September and lasts through the spring, providing little time for construction projects to take place. Fortunately, IronClad had extensive experience with the roofing systems needed in Park City.

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Project Profiles: Health Care

Union Printers Home, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Team

ROOFING CONTRACTOR: Interstate Roofing, Colorado Springs

Roof Materials

Interstate Roofing recommended Valoré Slate in the Villa color blend of medium and dark grays for the reroofing project. Valoré synthetic slate roofing tiles are made using proprietary VariBlend technology to form varying shades from tile to tile, creating an infinite number of color shades. Each single-width synthetic slate roofing tile is crafted using virgin polymer resins to guarantee a sustainable product. Valoré Slate tiles come in 12-inch tile widths with a 1/2-inch tile thickness, making it a lightweight yet realistic slate roofing tile option. (The Valoré Slate product line no longer is available.)
VALORÉ SLATE MANUFACTURER: DaVinci Roofscapes

Interstate Roofing recommended Valoré Slate in the Villa color blend of medium and dark grays for the reroofing project.

Interstate Roofing recommended Valoré Slate in the Villa color blend of medium and dark grays for the reroofing project.

Roof Report

Fondly known in Colorado Springs as the Castle on the Hill, the Union Printers Home has a long history of caring for people. Built in 1892 by members of the International Typographical Union to offer specialized health care to their union members, the facility today serves the general public with a multitude of services, including assisted living, nursing care, rehabilitation and hospice.

In 2012, extreme hail damage made it essential to replace the roof on the structure, which is a State of Colorado Historical Site. Interstate Roofing removed more than 50-year-old asbestos tiles on the roof and recommended polymer roofing tiles that complement the existing architectural style. “Considering the age, condition and historical value of the structure, we needed a roofing product that could work with the building while ensuring longevity to the structure,” says Scott Riopelle, owner of Interstate Roofing in Colorado Springs.

Although Riopelle was confident in the selection of the roofing product, there were many challenges for this project. The 50-man crew first had to complete the safe removal of the existing asbestos-laden tiles.

“We had to erect scaffolding 5-stories high to access the roof,” Riopelle says. “Due to the 12:12 roof pitch and the multiple turrets on the structure, building containment areas and debris removal were extremely dangerous. During the entire process, we performed continuous air-quality testing to ensure the safety of the home’s residents, staff and our crew.”

The team worked through the winter months and experienced continuous rain, wind and snow. Riopelle explains: “This means we had abatement processes, plywood redecking, dry-in and loading crews, heavy-equipment contractors, installers and supply companies all working in extreme-weather conditions. For this project, logistics and coordination went minute-to-minute.”

The temporary removal of the large historic clock on the front of the Union Printers Home created the next challenge. Because of its age, there was concern for the clock’s condition. Staff at the home asked that the hands of the clock not be moved; they were permanently set at 8 o’clock to represent the union’s efforts in the past to encourage an eight-hour workday.

Reroofing the turrets on the project was easier because of the Turret Package from DaVinci Roofscapes. Interstate Roofing provided DaVinci with four dimensions (the distance from the peak to the turret to the edge of the drip cap, the turret pitch, the turret cap length and the coursing exposure). From that information, Turret Packages were created, including the starter tiles, numbered field bundles custom-engineered for each course and a turret map diagram to guide the team through installation.

The three-month project had a gratifying outcome for Riopelle and his team. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime project,” Riopelle says. “Although we’ve completed projects much larger and more complex, this one was special because of the history associated with the Printers Union Home and the importance of the facility to the community.”

Interstate Roofing embraced the challenge of tying the old historic structure in with the new technology of the polymer slate products. “The results are amazing. This historic structure has a new life thanks to this roof,” Riopelle observes. “And since the roofing tiles are impact- and fire-resistant, there’s greater peace-of-mind for the staff and residents at the Union Printers Home.”

PHOTO: DaVinci Roofscapes

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‘The International Energy Conservation Code as Applied to Commercial Roofing’ Brochure Is Released

A new energy code brochure, “The International Energy Conservation Code as Applied to Commercial Roofing”, has been released explaining reroofing clarifications in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The reroofing clarifications make it very clear that almost every commercial reroofing project involving the removal and replacement of the existing roof covering must be upgraded to the current IECC R-value levels.

The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), with the assistance of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (the Center) and the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Associations (PIMA), developed and released the new energy code brochure.

“Billions of square feet of low-slope of commercial roofs (roofs with insulation above the deck) are replaced every year in the United States,” said Jared Blum, President, PIMA. “The clarification in the IECC means that whenever an existing low-slope roofing membrane is removed before a new roofing membrane is installed, the underlying roof insulation must be brought up to current code-mandated R-value levels.”

The new code clarification establishes specific definitions for each major type of roofing activity that may occur on a commercial building:

    Reroofing. The process of recovering or replacing an existing roof covering. See Roof Recover and Roof Replacement.
    Roof Recover. The process of installing an additional roof covering over a prepared existing roof covering without removing the existing roof covering.
    Roof Replacement. The process of removing an existing roof covering, repairing any damaged substrate and installing a new roof covering.
    Roof Repair. Reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing roof for the purposes of its maintenance.

The new brochure, similar in format to many other IMT brochures, contains:

  • A detailed listing of the key definitions and energy regulations that apply to commercial roofing.
  • Illustrations of typical roofing conditions.
  • A decision tree to determine the specific compliance path for any roofing application.

“Because it is considered a clarification rather than a new addition to the code, officials can start enforcing the update now and don’t have to wait until the 2015 version of the IECC is adopted in their jurisdiction. This brochure is succinct, easy to follow and clearly explains how to comply with the clarification,” added Blum.

“The International Energy Conservation Code as Applied to Commercial Roofing” brochure will help local code officials better understand the energy efficiency requirements for all types of commercial roofing projects and also serve as a useful guide to explain the code requirements to roofing contractors seeking construction permits, design professionals (architects, engineers, roof consultants) involved in roofing selection and specification, as well as building owners as the ultimate end-user of the code.

“The brochure is a part of a comprehensive effort by PIMA to inform members of the design community about their legal obligations to comply with the reroofing energy upgrade requirement,” added Blum.

In addition to advocating for increased building energy efficiency via improved building codes, IMT also works to increase compliance with energy codes by developing and distributing informational materials suitable for use in local code jurisdictions, not only for code officials but also for owners, designers, and contractors.

Roof Hugger Releases Metal-over-metal Retrofit Reroofing Design and Installation Manual

Roof Hugger Inc. announces its 2014 Version 3.04 Design & Installation Solutions manual for Metal-over-Metal retrofit reroofing systems.

The 108-page manual provides design professionals and contractors with technical information pertaining to retrofit sub-framing systems for installing a new metal roof over an existing metal roof, without removal. Included in its content is information on utilizing the space between the old roof and bottom side of the new metal roof for installing insulation, dynamic ventilation and/or solar thermal hot air/water systems. Also included are 65 construction details that can be downloaded from Roof Hugger’s website in ACAD and PDF formats.

If interested in receiving a printed copy of the manual, send an email request to sales@roofhugger.com or fax (877) 202-2254.

Reroofing Is One of the Few Opportunities to Improve the Built Environment

All of us get misled by catch-phrases, like “Save the Planet” or “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”. Although phrases like these are well intended, they can be misleading; they really are off topic. Something like “Save the Humans” is more to the point and truly the root of the entire sustainability movement. Let’s face it: The efforts to be more green are inherently aimed at a healthier you and me, as well as our children’s and grandchildren’s desire for continued healthful lives and opportunities.

The existing PVC roof on the GM After Sales Warehouse, Lansing, Mich., was removed and recycled into new PVC roofing material, a portion of which was reinstalled on this project and helped it achieve RoofPoint certification.

The existing PVC roof on the GM After Sales Warehouse, Lansing, Mich., was removed and recycled into new PVC roofing material, a portion of which was reinstalled on this project and helped it achieve RoofPoint certification.

The discussion about green and sustainability needs some context to make it real and effectual. The question to ask is: How does green construction help humans live a healthier and happier life? The answer is: It is because of the co-benefits of building (and living) in a more environmentally appropriate way.

One key component of building environmentally appropriate buildings is that, collectively, we use less energy. Less energy use means no need to build another power plant that creates electricity while spewing pollution into the air. Less pollution in the air means people are healthier. It also means the water and soil are less polluted. We drink that water and eat what grows in the ground. We also eat “stuff” from the rivers, lakes and oceans. Healthier people means reduced costs for health care. Reduced sickness means fewer sick days at the office, and fewer sick days means more productivity by employees—and, dare I say, happier employees all because of the environmentally appropriate building, or a “human appropriate” building.

So what does all this have to do with roofs? Rooftops, because they are a significant percentage of the building envelope, should not be overlooked as an important and truly significant energy-efficiency measure. Building owners and facility managers should always include energy-efficiency components in their roof system designs. There are few opportunities to improve the building envelope; reroofing is one of those opportunities, and it shouldn’t be missed.

According to the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and building envelope research firm Tegnos Inc., roof systems have the potential to save 700-plus trillion Btus in annual energy use. Too many roofs are not insulated to current code-required levels. If our rooftops were better insulated, these energy-saving estimates would become reality. Imagine the co-benefits of such a significant reduction in energy use!

The RoofPoint certified Bucks County Community College roof, in Perkasie, Pa., features a high-performance multi-layer insulation system that provides high levels of energy efficiency. Staggered joints break thermal discontinuities and a coverboard provides R-value and a durable surface.

The RoofPoint certified Bucks County Community College roof, in Perkasie, Pa., features a high-performance multi-layer insulation system that provides high levels of energy efficiency. Staggered joints break thermal discontinuities and a coverboard provides R-value and a durable surface.

But how do we know we’re doing the right thing? RoofPoint and the RoofPoint Carbon Calculator will help. The RoofPoint Carbon Calculator uses seven inputs to compare an energy-efficient roof with a baseline roof: insulation, thermal performance, air barrier, roof surface, rooftop PV, solar thermal and roof daylighting. The outputs from the Carbon Calculator are total roof energy use, energy savings due to the energy-efficient roof design, energy savings during peak demand, and CO2 offset for the energy-efficient roof design. This can be used to compare an existing roof (the baseline roof) to a new roof design (the energy efficient roof), and this will help verify the energy savings and reduction of carbon output. It’s an excellent tool for verifying how green a new roof can be.

And don’t just take my word on this co-benefits idea. The Economist published an article about the EPA and rulings on interstate pollution. The article cited a claim that by this year, 2014—if pollution rates were half of those in 2005—hundreds of thousands of asthma cases each year could be prevented and nearly 2 million work and school days lost to respiratory illness could be eliminated. And just think, improving your roof’s energy efficiency is key to the reduction of power-plant use and the pollution that comes from them. So, yes, roofs can help your kids and your grandkids be healthy and happy.