Research Centers Provide Valuable Information About Roof Performance

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center evaluates construction materials and systems in its state-of-the-art testing laboratories. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Until early October of this past year, Chester County, South Carolina, was home to a small, single-story house, similar to thousands of houses across the United States, but unique in almost every way.

What made this small structure one of a kind? The house sat inside the large test chamber at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) Research Center, dwarfed by the six-story chamber’s cavernous interior. The house was built, in fact, to be destroyed.

On Oct. 5, the staff of the IBHS Research Center focused the test chamber’s intense destructive wind power, generated by 105 super-sized fans, on the small structure. Prior to the test, the center had digitized the wind record of an actual storm, and the wind speeds produced by the fans were varied accordingly. In the case of the simulated storm in early October, wind speeds were increased in three phases, up to 120 miles an hour. The house experienced significant damage to its walls and interior, and the garage door was ripped off. But the roof, built to IBHS’ recommended standards, held firm.

The IBHS research facility, which opened in 2010 and is funded by property insurers, evaluates various residential and commercial construction materials and systems. The lab is the only lab in the world that can unleash the power of highly realistic windstorms, wind-driven rain, hailstorms and wildfire ember storms on full-scale one- and two-story residential and commercial buildings in a controlled, repeatable fashion.

The mission of IBHS is to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters. And much of its research, like its attack on this small house last October, has focused, at least in part, on the resilience of roofs. As IBHS President and CEO Julie Rochman has noted, “The roof is your first line of defense against anything Mother Nature inflicts … and during a bad storm your roof endures fierce pressure from wind, rain, and flying debris.”

Educating the Industry

In May of 2017, the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) launched a microsite to help educate the construction industry about the increasing need for resilience in the built environment, and the contributions that EPDM roofing membrane can make to a

IBHS conducts hail research in the Laboratory Building for Small Tests, where hailstones of various sizes are recreated and propelled against roof samples. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

resilient system. That effort came in response to the increasing number of extreme weather events. Since last May when ERA first launched its resilience microsite, the pattern of extreme weather has continued unabated, in the form of wildfires throughout the west which were exacerbated by extreme heat, and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma which left devastating floods and wind damage in their wake.

For more than a decade, ERA leadership has supported research about factors that contribute to the resilience of EPDM as a membrane, and how it best functions in various roofing systems. More recently, ERA has invested in site-visits to leading research organizations that generate science-based data about resiliency in building systems, first to Oak Ridge National Laboratories, near Knoxville, Tennessee, and then to the National Research Energy Laboratories (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. Given the complementary goals of ERA and IBHS to help support the creation of truly resilient buildings, ERA leadership welcomed the opportunity to visit the South Carolina research facility.

Analyzing Hail Damage

The hail research at IBHS was of special interest to ERA, given ERA’s research that has consistently shown that EPDM membrane offers exceptionally strong resistance against hail damage. Based on field and test data sponsored by ERA, EPDM roof membranes outperform other roof systems in terms of hail protection. In 2007, ERA conducted tests which showed that EPDM roofing membranes did not suffer membrane damage and avoided leaking problems endemic to other roofing surfaces in similar circumstances. Of the 81 targets installed for that research over different surfaces, 76 did not fail when impacted with hail ice balls up to three inches in diameter. Perhaps most importantly, the impact resistance of both field-aged and heat-aged membranes in this test also clearly demonstrated that EPDM retains the bulk of its impact resistance as it ages.

The IBHS Research Center’s super-sized fans can recreate winds to measure their effects on full-scale one- and two-story residential and commercial buildings. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Using this ERA-generated research as a starting point, ERA leadership travelled to IBHS with specific questions in mind, including: What has IBHS research revealed about the impact of hail on various types of roofing membranes and systems? Does the IBHS research reinforce or contradict ERA’s findings? What are the next questions to be asked about the damage that hail can do, and are resilient systems cost-effective?

Hail research at IBHS is conducted in the Laboratory Building for Small Tests, a compact structure with equipment appropriate to replicate large hailstones and hurl them at roof samples. As part of its research, IBHS has worked with the National Weather Service to assess the geographic locations threatened by hail. Individual storms have long been recognized as creating widespread and expensive destruction, but is hail a threat that is confined to just a few specific geographic areas of the country?

In fact, more than 75 percent of the cities in the United States experience at least one hailstorm a year, and the risk extends across the country to all areas east of the Rockies. Annually, hail losses reach more than 1 billion dollars. The IBHS has identified the factors that contribute to the extent of hailstorm damage, with the impact resistance of roofing materials being one of the most critical factors, along with hailstone size, density and hardness. Likewise, the roof is one of the components most vulnerable to hail. Analysis of property damage resulting from a hailstorm in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2011 found that roof losses accounted for 75 percent of property damage in the area, and more than 90 percent of damage payouts.

In their efforts to replicate the true nature of hail, the staff at IBHS has conducted extensive fieldwork, and travelled widely around the United States to gather actual hailstones immediately after a storm. Over the last five years, the IBHS hail team has collected more than 3,500 hailstones, focusing on their dimensions, mass and compressive stress. The stones range from .04 inches in diameter to well over four inches. In addition, IBHS has conducted three-D scans of more than one hundred stones to further educate themselves about the true nature of hailstones, and how they contribute to the overall damage inflicted by hailstorms.

The research findings of IBHS reinforce or complement those of ERA. IBHS has found that unsupported roofing materials perform poorly and ballasted low-slope roofs perform especially well in hailstorms because they disperse energy. IBHS recommends that builders use systems that have impact resistance approval, including their own fortified standard. While IBHS found that newer roofing membranes perform better than older membranes, ERA studies found that new, heat-aged and field-aged EPDM membranes all offered a high degree of hail resistance, demonstrating that EPDM retains the bulk of its impact resistance as it ages.

Both organizations stress that resilient roofing systems in new and retrofitted construction can make good financial sense. According to Julie Rochman of IBHS, “We are really going to continue focusing on moving our culture from one that is focused on post-disaster response and recovery to pre-disaster investment and loss-mitigation … we’re going to be very focused on getting the roofs right in this country.”

For the members of ERA, “getting the roof right” has long been a dominant focus of their businesses. Now, in the face of increasingly frequent and extreme weather events, getting the roof right means gathering up-to-the-minute research about resilient systems, and putting that research to work to create resilient roofs.

Plate Marking Tool Designed to Increase Installation Efficiency

OMG Roofing Products introduces a plate marking tool designed to help roofers improve rooftop productivity by quickly locating and marking RhinoBond Plates installed under thermoplastic membranes.  

The new RhinoBond Plate Marking Tool is lightweight, simple-to-use and easy-to-maneuver. Simply roll the marking tool over a row of installed RhinoBond Plates. Every time it passes over a properly installed plate, the tool leaves a temporary mark on the surface of the membrane to identify the plate location. Plate marks are made with standard blue construction crayons and typically fade away within a few weeks.

The plate marking tool is compatible with all thermoplastic membranes regardless of type or thickness. In addition, the tool’s handle is reversible for quick direction changes, and lays flat for rolling under rooftop pipes and raised equipment such as air handling units. Other benefits of the new system include powerful sweeper magnets mounted on the front and back of the chassis that pick-up any metal debris on the roof. The tool is provided in a protective carrying case for easy handling and storage.

The RhinoBond System is designed for use with TPO and PVC roofing membranes. The System uses advanced induction welding technology to bond roofing membranes directly to specially coated plates that secure the insulation to the deck. The result is a roofing system with improved wind performance that requires fewer fasteners, plates, and seams, and zero penetrations of the new membrane.

For more information, visit OMGRoofing.com.

Re-Roofing Project Protects Medical Center’s Critical Interior Space

The medical center is pleased with the decision to use FiberTite to protect their facility and trusts the roof system will be durable and reliable for many years to come.

The medical center is pleased with the decision to use FiberTite to protect their facility and trusts the roof system will be durable and reliable for many years to come.

Maintaining the building envelope is essential to the success of a facility with critical interior space. This is especially true with hospitals and medical centers, where facility managers need to be on top of the building envelope integrity so patients and valuable assets are protected.

When the staff at an acute care medical facility in Florida realized the building’s existing roof was reaching the end of its service life, they knew they had to take action right away. The medical center offers a 24-hour emergency department, surgical services and various other outpatient services, and avoiding interruptions caused by roof leaks was critical. Hospital officials sought out a roofing consultant to offer a recommendation for the best roofing system to protect the facility.

McEnany Roofing, located in Tampa, Fla., has been providing commercial and industrial roofing solutions for more than 27 years. “We worked on the medical facility’s behalf to recommend a roofing system for this environment,” says Mark Sloat, vice president and senior estimator at McEnany Roofing. “We used the services of an engineer to conduct an uplift test to help us determine the best roof to suit their needs.”

Roof Materials

After all the testing and research was complete, McEnany Roofing concluded that a FiberTite Roofing System was the best choice. The proven performance advantages in puncture resistance, durability, wind uplift and severe weather protection supported McEnany Roofing’s recommendation and after careful review of the data, the medical facility agreed. In 2016, McEnany Roofing installed more than 130,000 square feet of Elvaloy KEE membrane on the main hospital and two adjacent medical buildings.

Roof Report

The sensitive environment of the hospital setting also had to be taken into account. The water-based adhesive used to adhere the 45-mil FiberTite Fleeceback membrane on the upper roof of the main hospital helped mitigate odor. Other areas of the hospital had 45-mil FiberTite-SM installed using the mechanically attached securement. Both processes minimized disruption and allowed the medical center to maintain strict standards of patient care during installation. The medical center is pleased with the decision to use FiberTite to protect their facility and trusts the roof system will be durable and reliable for many years to come.

Team

ROOFING CONTRACTOR: McEnany Roofing, Tampa, Fla.
ROOF SYSTEM MANUFACTURER: FiberTite Roofing Systems, Seaman Corp., Wooster, Ohio

Photo: FiberTite Roofing Systems

Virginia Tech Study Measures the Impact of Membranes on the Surrounding Environment

Equipment tripods are set up to hold air temperature and EMT temperature sensors.

Equipment tripods are set up to hold air temperature and EMT temperature sensors.

For much of the past decade, the debate over when and where to install reflective roofing has been guided by two basic assumptions: first, since white roofs reflect heat and reduce air conditioning costs, they should be used in hot climates. Second, since black membranes absorb heat, they should be used in cool-to-colder climates to reduce heating costs. This reasoning has been broadly accepted and even adopted in one of the most influential industry standards, ASHRAE 90.1, which requires reflective roofing on commercial projects in the warm-weather portions of the United States, Climate Zones 1–3.

But as reflective membranes have become more widely used, there has been a growing awareness that the choice of roof color is not simply a matter of black or white. Questions continue to be debated not only about the performance and durability of the different types of membranes, but on the impact of other key components of the roof system, including insulation and proper ventilation. The issue of possible condensation in cooler or even cold climates is garnering more attention. Given these emerging concerns, the roofing community is beginning to ask for more detailed, science-based information about the impact of reflective roofing.

One recent area of inquiry is centering on the impact of “the thermal effects of roof color on the neighboring built environment.” In other words, when heat is reflected off of a roofing surface, how does it affect the equipment and any other structures on that roof, and how might the reflected heat be impacting the walls and windows of neighboring buildings? Put another way, where does the reflected heat go?

THE STUDY

To help answer those questions, the Center for High Performance Environments at Virginia Tech, supported by the RCI Foundation and with building materials donated by Carlisle Construction Materials, designed and implemented a study to compare temperatures on the surface and in the air above black EPDM and white TPO membranes. In addition, the study compared temperatures on opaque and glazed wall surfaces adjacent to the black EPDM and white TPO, and at electrical metallic tubing (EMT) above them.

Specifically, the Virginia Tech study was designed to answer the following questions:

  • What is the effect of roof membrane reflectivity on air temperatures at various heights above the roof surface?
  • What is the effect of roof membrane reflectivity on temperatures of EMT at various heights above the roof surface?
  • What is the effect of roof membrane reflectivity on temperatures of opaque wall surfaces adjacent and perpendicular to them?
  • What is the effect of roof membrane reflectivity on temperatures of glazed wall surfaces adjacent and perpendicular to the roof surface?

To initiate the study, the Virginia Tech team needed to find an existing roof structure with the appropriate neighboring surfaces. They found a perfect location for the research right in their own backyard. The roof of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech was selected as the site of the experiment because it had both opaque and glazed wall areas adjacent to a low-slope roof. In addition, it featured safe roof access.

In order to carry out the study, 1.5 mm of reinforced white TPO and 1.5 mm of non-reinforced black EPDM from the same manufacturer were positioned on the roof site. A 12-by-6-meter overlay of each membrane was installed adjacent to the opaque wall and a 6-by-6-meter overlay of each was installed next to the glazed wall. At each “location of interest”—on the EPDM, on the TPO, and next to the opaque and glazed walls—the researchers installed temperature sensors. These sensors were placed at four heights (8, 14, 23, and 86 centimeters), and additional sensors were embedded on the roof surface itself in the TPO and EPDM. Using these sensors, temperatures were recorded on bright, sunny days with little or no wind. The researchers controlled for as many variables as possible, taking temperature readings from the sensors on and above the EPDM and TPO on the same days, at the same time, and under the same atmospheric conditions.

The roof of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech is the site of the experiment because it has opaque and glazed wall areas adjacent to a low-slope roof.

The roof of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech is the site of the experiment because it has opaque and glazed wall areas adjacent to a low-slope roof.

THE RESULTS

The output from the sensors showed that at the surface of the roof, the black membrane was significantly hotter than the white membrane, and remained hotter at the measuring points of 8 cm and 14 cm (just over 3 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively). However, the air temperature differences at the sensors 23 centimeters (about 9 inches) and 86 centimeters (just under three feet) above the surface of the roof were not statistically significant. In other words, at the site the air temperature just above the white roof was cooler, but beginning at about 9 inches above the roof surface, there was no difference in the temperature above the white and black membranes.

On the precast concrete panel adjacent to the TPO and EPDM, temperatures were warmer next to the TPO than adjacent to the EPDM, leading the study authors to hypothesize that the TPO reflected more heat energy onto the wall than did the EPDM. Exterior glazing surface temperatures were found to be approximately 2 degrees Celsius hotter adjacent to the TPO overlay as compared to the EPDM overlay.

Elizabeth Grant led the team that designed and implemented the study. She says her findings show that you need to take the entire environment into account when designing a roof system. “You need to think about what’s happening on top of the roof,” she says. “Is it adjacent to a wall? Is it adjacent to windows? Is it going to reflect heat into those spaces?”

Samir Ibrahim, director of design services at Carlisle SynTec, believes the study results will help frame additional research. “These findings are an important reminder that the full impact of reflective roofing on a building and on surrounding buildings is not fully understood,” he says. “Additional research and joint studies, covering different climatic conditions, are certainly warranted to broaden the knowledge and understanding of the true impact on the built-environment.”

Duro-Last Single-Ply Roofing Membranes Earn Platinum Certification

Duro-Last announces that it has achieved platinum certification under the NSF American National Standard for Sustainable Roofing Membranes, NSF/ANSI 347. Certified by UL, this standard represents that Duro-Last manufactures a product that is third-party verified as sustainable, durable, and high performing. The certification applies to 40, 50 and 60 mil, white, tan, gray and dark gray as well as 50 mil terra cotta Duro-Last membranes.
 
“Duro-Last was excited to have most of our membrane product lines certified by this third-party standard,” says Jason Tunney, executive vice president and general counsel of Duro-Last. “But we wanted to take it to the next level and achieve the highest rating possible.”
 
NSF/ANSI 347 was written by NSF International and, according to their website, is based on life-cycle assessment principles. NSF/ANSI 347 employs a point system to evaluate roofing membranes against established prerequisite requirements, performance criteria and quantifiable metrics in five key areas:

  • Product design
  • Product manufacturing
  • Membrane durability
  • Corporate governance
  • Innovation

 
Obtaining this certification will help the Duro-Last membrane meet the market demand for products that comply with green building standards like the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes. Product specifiers and purchasers are under pressure to find products that meet their sustainability criteria, and having the NSF 347 certification can give them the peace of mind of specifying a third-party verified product.
 
This certification is one more step in Duro-Last’s commitment to sustainability and transparency, coming after the announcement of the publication of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Duro-Tuff, Duro-Fleece and Duro-Last EV membranes. To read more about Duro-Last’s sustainability efforts, visit here.
 
“There’s talk in the roofing industry about being ‘green’ and sustainable,” says Katie Chapman, Duro-Last corporate sustainability specialist. “At Duro-Last we want to help people make informed decisions when purchasing roofing products.”
 
For more information regarding Duro-Last’s sustainability initiatives contact Katie Chapman at (800)248-0280 or kchapman@duro-last.com.

Install EPDM in Temperatures from 20 to 120 F

Firestone Building Products Co. LLC has launched its Secure Bond Technology, which ensures adhesion coverage across the entire roofing membrane.

Firestone Building Products Co. LLC has launched its Secure Bond Technology, which ensures adhesion coverage across the entire roofing membrane.


Firestone Building Products Co. LLC has launched its Secure Bond Technology, which ensures adhesion coverage across the entire roofing membrane. The company will offer Ultra Ply TPOSA and RubberGard EPDM SA with Secure Bond Technology. RubberGard EPDM SA and UltraPly TPO SA with Secure Bond Technology can be installed in temperatures between 20 and 120 F. The technology has no VOCs and does not emit odor during or after installation. It also is FM tested and approved, meets or exceeds all ASTM requirements and is covered by the Firestone Building Products Red Shield Warranty.