Friday, September 30, 2011

Cool Roofs Also Beneficial in Cold Climates

One of the goals of the U.S. Department of Energy's Cool Roofs Roadmap is to answer one of the most fundamental cool roof-related questions: Are cool roofs beneficial in cold climates?

Andre O. Desjarlais and P. Marc LaFrance both say they think so - if not from strictly an energy standpoint, then from the fact that they can help reduce the urban heat island effect.

"If you put a cool roof on a building in a cold climate and run the calculator strictly on energy, it may not save energy because of the heating penalty," says LaFrance. "But if you take into account the urban heat island effect, the indirect benefits may make cool roofs worthwhile."

This is often a tough sell for facility managers only worried about their own bottom lines. But research has already shown the effectiveness of cool roofs like those from Conklin at reducing urban heat islands, pollution and smog. For instance, the Heat Island Group at LBNL showed that Los Angeles spends about $100 million in extra energy costs to mitigate its urban heat island.

Reducing the temperature citywide means less air conditioning energy is required everywhere, which also means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, many northern cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City, have mandated cool roofs in their building codes. Utilities in northern states like Wyoming, Minnesota and Oregon offer rebates for the use of cool roofs. And the voluntary LEED rating system specifies cool roofs for a point explicitly for "urban heat island reduction." LaFrance says he hopes the research planned in the Cool Roofs Roadmap will more firmly establish a link between widespread use of cool roofs and reduced air conditioning energy use, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

One specific initiative, on which the Department of Energy is already working in conjunction with two other organizations (the White Roofs Alliance and Local Governments for Sustainability), is called the 100 Cool Cities initiative. DOE hopes to engage 100 cities around the world to commit to widespread installation of reflective surfaces by 2020. New York City, Taipei and Athens were the first three cities to sign up.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Measuring Weathered Cool Roofs, Updated DOE Roof Savings Calculator

A 2010 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study showed that the average annual savings when substituting a .55 weathered reflectance cool roof for a .20 weathered reflectance gray roof is 5.02 kWh per square meter of roof surface. The study also showed that the savings are greater in areas of the country with higher air conditioning loads where an upper range benefit of 7.69 kWh per square meter was possible.

Cool roofs having the greatest benefit in air conditioning-heavy climates makes logical sense, and is in line with an important change to the most recent version of the ASHRAE 90.1 energy code, making cool roofs a prescriptive requirement for Climate Zones 1 through 3. Roofs in those areas — the South, Southwest, and most of California — that adopt the code must install roofs with a minimum three-year weathered reflectance of .55, and three-year weathered emittance of .75. Infrared emittance is the measure of how much radiation a surface re-emits to the atmosphere.

Using weathered results, as opposed to new, represents a shift in the industry in how cool roof effectiveness is measured, as well. New cool roofs can exhibit reflectance numbers as high as .75 or .80. Energy Star labels roofing products with initial reflectances of .65 on low slope roofs. The industry is beginning to understand that the true measure of how well the roof will perform depends not on its initial reflectance number, but on its weathered. Every cool roof gets soiled and loses performance over time, so it's very important to base energy calculations on aged value, not new.

That is exactly what the Department of Energy Roof Savings Calculator does, and allows you to enter several variables such as area of the country, building type, heat and cooling type, efficiency, as well as characteristics of your existing roof and proposed cool roof including weathered reflectance and emittance ratings. The resulting calculation shows the potential annual energy savings (or loss) with a cool roof.

According to André Desjarlais, group leader of the Building Envelope Program at Oak Ridge National Lab, the calculator was relaunched late last year to accomplish a few goals:
  • First, it combines two calculators into one (previously, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOE each had its own cool roof calculator). These two calculators were programmed with slightly different assumptions and therefore gave different results. The new calculator combines research and analysis from both agencies to be more comprehensive.
  • Second, it's more sophisticated than either of the previous two in terms of how it allows you to enter data about a facility (basically, there are more variables - the old calculators didn't specify a building type, they assumed the roof was floating above space, etc. and now the calculator is more sophisticated and thorough to cover more scenarios).

Part of DOE's Cool Roofs Roadmap is to expand and improve the Roof Savings Calculator and to benchmark its results against actual experimental data. Another part of the plan is to study several different types of roofing, such as vegetative roofs and roof coatings like those from Conklin, to determine energy savings potential.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu: Cool Roofs Like Removing All Cars for 11 Years

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced about a year ago that cool roofs (like those installed by Conklin contractors) would be mandatory on all Department of Energy (DOE) facilities. He also urged other federal agencies to follow suit. Chu, also a Nobel-prize winning scientist, stated a potential 10-15% reduction in energy use for those buildings (depending on the configuration of the building and other variables) "simply by having a white roof."

Energy savings aren't the only benefit of cool roofs. The two other reasons Chu mentioned for his advocacy of cool roofs are the role they play in helping mitigating global warming, and their ability to reduce urban heat islands.

Urban heat islands are a result of dark roofs and asphalt pavements in concentrated urban areas increasing the ambient air temperature between 6 and 8 degrees compared to suburban or rural areas. An average 50-65% of urban surfaces are covered with roofs or pavement, and Chu cited a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) study that says increasing the reflectance of those surfaces would have the same effect in terms of global warming mitigation as removing every car in the world from the road for 11 years.

Further quantifying the benefits of cool roofing will be the goal of a multi-year long DOE initiative. The Cool Roofs Roadmap lays out research into the exact impact of cool roofing on three levels:
  1. Trimming building energy use
  2. Mitigating the urban heat island effect
  3. Reducing global warming
The Cool Roofs Roadmap, currently in draft version 2.0, is expected to be finalized by the end of this fiscal year according to Marc LaFrance, building envelope program manager at DOE. The roadmap builds on current and past research to provide proof, and therefore act as a basis for policy, of cool roof benefits.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cool Roofs are Good for the Environment

Energy savings are not the only reason to opt for a cool roof like those offered by Conklin. Researchers who pioneered the technology in the 1970's were motivated primarily not by the cost savings that cool roofs bring for building owners, but by the significant environmental benefits they offer for cities that widely use them.

Art Rosenfeld (Commissioner of the California Energy Commission) pioneered the study of urban heat islands — a phenomenon in which the air temperature in and around urban areas is raised by 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit primarily as a result of the prevalence of heat-retaining surfaces like dark roofs and asphalt streets. Because of their high emissivity and their ability to maintain low surface temperature, cool roofs have a well-documented ability to combat the urban heat island effect.

Urban heat islands are associated with increased pollution and cooling costs, negative health effects, and even decreased workplace productivity because of the impact of poor air quality. “Ozone — call it smog — is extremely temperature dependent,” says Rosenfeld. “In Los Angeles, when the average daily temperature is 72 or below, there is ozone in the air but there are no smog episodes. When it goes up to 92 degrees, you have 100 percent likelihood of smog episodes. When you have an urban heat island, you are artificially increasing that temperature through manmade means, and the negative results for the environment and for public health are significant.”

While the urban heat island effect is most severe in warm climates, it is not just building owners in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Houston, and Dallas who should be concerned about it.

“Cities in the north as well as in the south of the country are affected by this phenomenon,” says Rosenfeld. “Believe it or not, the city of Toronto is an urban heat island.”

The environmental benefits of cool roofs are prompting municipal and state agencies across the nation to consider mandating their use as a matter of policy. California blazed the trail of incorporating cool roofs into building code. Following a 1999 analysis that revealed the potential energy savings afforded by cool roofs, Title 24 introduced credits for facilities that opted for cool roofs. Starting in October 2005, California began requiring the use of cool roofs in certain applications. Cities as far north as Chicago have since followed suit.

To learn more about the environmental and other benefits of cool roofing, ask a professional roofing contractor in your area who is an expert in cool roofing.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Cool Roofing Not Specific to a Single System

Ask any expert to define "cool roof", and his or her explanation will likely include the words “reflectivity” and “emissivity.”

What is a Cool Roof?
Any roof that can boast strong performance in those two areas (the ability to reflect sunlight off a facility’s rooftop while minimizing roof temperature) is a good candidate for the designation of "cool roof".

A cool roof is any roofing system that can deliver high solar reflectance (the ability to reflect the visible, infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths of the sun, reducing heat transfer to the building) and high thermal emittance (the ability to radiate absorbed, or non-reflected solar energy), helping to improve the energy efficiency of the building and mitigating the urban heat island effect.  Most cool roofs are white or other light colors.

The term cool roof can also refer to a geo engineering technique to address global warming through solar radiation management, provided that the materials used not only reflect solar energy, but also emit infra-red radiation (thereby cooling the planet).

Cool Roof Options
The sky is the limit when it comes to choices of systems that qualify as a cool roof - the idea that opting for a "cool roof" limits you to a specific type of product is a common misunderstanding. You can get a cool roof in almost any material you might be considering. For example, Conklin offers cool roofing solutions for fabric reinforced, metal, foam, EPDM, and single-ply systems.

For more information on cool roofing options, please contact a professional roofing contractor in your area that specializes in cool roofing.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Staying Cool with Cool Roofs

Performance of a cool roof can be adversely affected by accumulated dust or debris, which may reduce the material's reflectivity by as much as 20%. For some applications, ongoing cleaning and preventative maintenance is something every building owner and property or facility manager should consider, so you may want to think twice about putting a reflective roof system on a building where you are going to have a lot of dust and debris if you are not going to institute a regular cleaning schedule.

Aesthetics is another factor to be weighed when considering a white reflective roof system. The color of the roof can be part of the architecture, so that is an important consideration for some people being that cool roofs are typically light in color.

Although the color options available are quickly expanding, as researchers find ways to increase the reflective properties of colored materials. There are many more options for cool roofs today than there were even five years ago. Because of all of the benefits of cool roofing, this is an ever-evolving field.

With today’s cool roofs available in a wide range of types and from a variety of manufacturers like Conklin, making the best choice for a home or building can be a challenge since there is no simple way to determine which roof system is the "best". Efficiency ratings are a key indicator, but this is a tricky issue because when you talk about a roof you’re really talking about a number of different components that may have different efficiency characteristics. The best option is to discuss roofing options with a roof consultant or professional roofing contractor who is knowledgeable about cool roofs.

While the considerations may seem endless, when it comes to cool roofs there are very few drawbacks. In most cases there is little to be lost as a result of choosing a cool roof. If you can arrive at the right combination of insulation and reflectivity, a cool roof is usually a no-brainer.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cool Roofs are Affordable and Long-Lasting

The initial cost of a cool roof varies with the type of product specified. For a membrane that is naturally light-colored such as TPO or PVC, there would be no additional cost. But if a membrane is added to make a dark-colored roof reflective, the cost would be higher because it would need to be coated with a reflective roof coating like the ones from Conklin. You may also be eligible to take advantage of one of the rebate or incentive programs that are in place in some areas to encourage the use of cool roofs.

There is a lot of support from utility companies for the increased use of cool roofs, because they are an effective way to decrease peak demand. Offering incentives is a lot cheaper for the utility companies than building a new plant to accommodate everyone’s peak usage.

Emerging evidence points to the possibility that cool roofs actually last longer than standard roofs. Because a cool roof doesn’t heat up as much, it doesn’t go through as much expansion and contraction, which means less wear and tear. RoofPal has data to support the existance of thermal shock, which is caused by rapid and ranging temperatures of the roof surface. Cool roofs do not experience nearly as much thermal shock, which could lead to a 20 percent longer roof life - another savings benefit.

If a roof is well insulated, the effect of a cool roof on energy consumption is reduced because heat from the roof does not penetrate the facility as easily. Insulation does not affect thermal shock or roof life though. There is a “winter penalty” that results when a cool roof reflects solar heat that could reduce heating costs by warming a home or building during winter months, but experts say this penalty is small — perhaps a difference of only about 5 percent.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cool Roofs are Good for the Bottom Line

From a bottom-line perspective, the major benefit of a cool roof is its potential to deliver energy savings. By reducing the absorption of solar heat through the roof, a cool roof lowers a facility’s cooling load and the energy required to power air conditioning.

Most people may not think of the roof as an energy-saving opportunity, but there has been an Energy Star rating for roof parts for over 10 years. The roof of your building and home provides an opportunity to lower your peak energy usage and to decrease your bills.

A thorough analysis of possible savings will take into account the amount of insulation in the facility and the price of energy in the area. In areas where there is less need for air conditioning and more demand for heating, the energy-saving benefits of a cool roof clearly are not as great. You definitely save more in a warmer climate not only because of weather, but also because buildings in the south and southwest tend to have less insulation.

How much savings can you expect a cool roof to deliver?
It depends on a lot of factors, including geography, materials and whether there are areas where heating and cooling are escaping from the building. But for example, in Phoenix, Arizona it can be 20% or even greater (RoofPal has data on this upon request).

In a hot climate, a cool roof probably saves 10 cents per square foot per year. In the northern part of the country, it is less (more like 3-5 cents per square foot). But still, there is a savings.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bill Clinton, Roof Coatings and Turning the World Off for a Year

This was a very hot summer, but did you know that many Americans unknowingly contributed to those soaring temperatures because of the black tar roofing systems they had installed which absorbs and traps an enormous amount of heat during the summer months. But there is an easy fix to the black roofs problem: paint the black roofs white with reflective coatings like those from Conklin.

Painting black tar roofs with a white solar-reflective coating is a low cost, quick and tangible way to reduce the risk of power grid ‘brown-outs’, save millions of dollars in energy costs and curb climate change. The statistics are as simple as they are staggering: a roof covered with solar-reflective white paint reflects up to 90% of sunlight as opposed to the 20% reflected by a traditional black roof. On a 90°F day, a black roof can be up to 180°F. That heat has a major impact on interior building temperature, potentially heating your room to between 115 – 125°F. A white roof stays a cool 100°F. Plus the inside of the building stays cooler than the air outdoors, around 80°F in this example, reducing cooling costs. RoofPal conducts cool roofing studies and has data available that backs this up upon request.

White roofs also reduce the “urban heat island” effect in which temperatures rise in dense urban areas because of the proliferation of heat-radiating, black tar surfaces. For example, the Urban Heat Island effect causes New York City to be about 5 degrees warmer than surrounding suburbs and accounts for 5 to 10 percent of summer electricity use.

In New York City alone, 12% of all surfaces are rooftops. It’s estimated that implementing a white roof program in 11 metropolitan cities could save the United States 7 gigawatts in energy usage. That’s the equivalent of turning off 14 power plants, and a cost savings of $750 million per year.

Recently, former President Bill Clinton wrote in Newsweek that “Every black roof in New York should be white; every roof in Chicago should be white; every roof in Little Rock should be white. Every flat tar-surface roof anywhere! In most of these places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week.” The former president regularly touts the white roofs as one of those win-win scenarios that could also help create jobs and stimulate the economy.

The folks at White Roof Project agree. Last year, a progressive group of young people got together to found the project and get it going at the grassroots level. When 150 volunteers showed up to coat the historic Bowery Mission in New York City (their first project) it was a watershed moment. Volunteers saw that all it takes is a paint roller, some solar-reflective white coating and a little hard work to start curbing climate change. Since then they’ve been educating and activating folks around the white roof movement that Bill Clinton has called on someone to build. This year, White Roof Project will triple the amount of roofing it coated last year and is also launching a campaign to educate more homeowners and organizations about the benefits of white rooftops.

If we were to coat 5% of rooftops per year worldwide, we would be finished by 2032. This would save the U.S. 24 billion metric tons in CO2. That happens to be exactly how much the world as a whole emitted in 2010. So in essence, that would be like turning the world off for an entire year — while also saving some money on the energy bills while doing it.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Economic Stimulus? Lighter Roofs Could Enable $1B Annual Savings and Produce More Jobs

Similar to how ice and snow reflects UV rays instead of absorbing the heat like oceans do, cities are now giving white roofs a second look as a way to cool cities and fight climate change. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Climate Change Research Conference advised that if buildings and road surfaces in 100 of the largest cities in the U.S. were covered with lighter and heat-reflective surfaces similar to those from Conklin the savings could be massive, as roofs account for 25% and pavement accounts for 35% of surface area in cities.

Some states are more progressive than others. California, for example, has required white roofs on commercial buildings since 2005, and since 2009 that all new and retrofitted residential and commercial buildings with both flat and sloped roofs have to install heat-reflecting roofing. Painting flat roofs white is fairly easy, but sloped roofs are more difficult which is why they will be allowed to just install "lighter" roof surfaces. Lighter or metal roofs also help to lower electricity costs by reducing cooling needs.

Authors of a recent study published in the journal Climatic Change say that cooling a city will also reduce smog and offset carbon emissions. Lighter roofs themselves do not directly emit fewer emissions, but they do directly affect other things which emit carbon like the energy needed to cool a building or home under that dark roof.

Geo-engineering (meaning "the artificial manipulation of the environments of the Earth as a means of counteracting global warming) could enable net energy savings of more than $1,000,000,000 in the United States each and every year. And choosing to install these coatings will mean more jobs by the professional roofing contractors who employ the skilled installation technicians.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Pitfalls to Avoid with Roof Coatings

Roofs are expensive, and even coatings (which cost much less than a re-roofing job) are an investment that is expected to pay off for the building owner. That is why it is imperative for facility and property managers to ensure the coating is installed by a licensed professional roofing contractor experienced with roof coatings.

Below are a few suggestions if you are planning to have your building coated.

Everyone is not an Expert
If you are planning on having a newly constructed roof coated, bid the roof coating work separately - not all contractors have expertise in coatings.

Time of the Year
Fall and winter are not the best times to apply a water-based acrylic roof coating. Even though the coating will look dry, the shorter days and cooler nights will slow the cure of these types of coatings. Rain, dew and small amounts of standing water can delaminate an uncured coating. You are better off waiting until early summer the next year to apply the water-based coating so it has better conditions to cure. The first 30 days are critical.

Preparation and Adhesion
There is nothing worse than not adequately preparing the roof. Coatings must bond with the roof, so preparing the roof properly for adhesion is vital to coating success. Also, don't get hung up on just one aspect of coatings. There are times when a water-based coating would be nice, but above all else you have to make sure that the coating is compatible with the substrate. Sometimes solvent-based coatings are necessary to obtain the proper adhesion.

Heed the Label
Manufacturers caution you to read and understand the directions on the product labels. Along with over- or under-application of roof coatings, also ensure the contractor intends to apply it to a surface is was intended for.

Coating Old, Worn-Out Roofs
Aged roofs that have not been maintained since they were originally installed may be in such bad shape that a coating alone is insufficient to save the roof.

For buildings with known roof leaks, check the roof and the insulation for wetness and moisture. Leaks need to be fixed first, and wet insulation may need to be replaced. Your roofing contractors should not install coatings over roof systems where insulation is saturated with moisture. Eventually, that moisture needs to escape by evaporation and will blister or delaminate any coating applied over it.

Although coatings can help mitigate other roofing costs such as the environmental costs associated with disposal of the old roof, there is such a thing as coating too often. Most people look to coatings to extend the life of the roof, but re-coating your roof every 5 years to preserve waterproofing and avoid tearing off the old roof is expensive and can cause business disruption. Plus, keep in mind that coating costs generally are expensed the year they are applied, as they are not capital costs spread over a multiple-year timeline (which can be the case for re-roofing).

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

3 Types of Roof Coatings

There are three broad categories of roof coatings: traditional coatings, reflective coatings and maintenance membranes.

Traditional coatings rely on basic materials that have been used for decades and are designed to be chemically compatible with the existing roof. By protecting the roof from direct exposure to UV light, water and other weather elements, coatings extend the life of the roof. They also serve a secondary purpose of sealing minor imperfections in the roof. Traditional coatings include coal-tar, asphalt emulsions and solvent-based asphalt applications.

Reflective coatings also protect the roof from exposure to sunlight and weather processes, but with the added benefit of reflecting infrared heat. Even modest reductions in roof temperature can significantly extend roof life. This is particularly true for well-insulated roof systems, which tend to be hotter because they cannot shed heat into the building. Well-insulated black roofs are generally seen to have a shorter life than the identical system placed over lower insulation.

Reflective coatings come in two predominant types: water-based white acrylic roof coatings and reflective aluminum asphalt coatings.

Acrylic coatings reduce infrared heat absorption in the roof membrane. These elastomeric coatings help reduce the internal temperature of uninsulated buildings, saving cooling costs. Because they generally contain low VOCs, water-based coatings are more environmentally acceptable than solvent-based coatings and last as long as other coatings.

Water-based white acrylics must be selected carefully. For example, to use a white coating on an asphalt roof, you must specify a coating formulated specifically for asphalt.

More so than other coatings, water-based white acrylics are not intended for use in standing water. If a roof has a tendency to pond, maintenance staff should first fill the depressions where ponded water accumulates before applying an acrylic coating. Their application also is limited to emulsion surfaces, and they should not be applied at temperatures below 45 degrees. For a gravel roof, the recommendations of the manufacturer should be followed. Finally, the curing time should not be underestimated: Water-based coatings can require from six to 48 hours of cure time before the roof can be exposed to rain or cold temperatures. It is crucial that the instructions on the label are followed.

Reflective aluminum-asphalt coatings use aluminum flakes in an asphalt matrix. While they retain slightly more infrared heat than white coatings, they can be applied on a variety of substrates, including metal, single-ply and built-up roofs. Either type of coating can be used on unpainted metal roofs, but only the aluminum-asphalt roof coatings will allow the roof to retain a metallic appearance.

Maintenance membranes use a combination of coating and reinforcing fabric. The membranes are used either as a short-term effort to stabilize a roof that might be compromised and eventually will need to be replaced, or as a longer-term solution that can extend the life of the roof five to 15 years. But simply applying coatings is not the same as applying a complete maintenance system.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roof Coatings Protect and Reflect

There never seems to be enough money for needed roof improvements and maintenance despite the fact that a comprehensive maintenance program is perhaps the best way to protect a roof. When it comes to adequate maintenance, roofing tends to be one of the most overlooked areas because it is out of sight and out of mind. Unless there are water spots on the ceiling tiles or water dropping on somone's head, roofs just go unnoticed.

That should not be the case. More than any other part of a building, the roof protects an organization’s assets. And if the capital budget needs to be protected, roof coatings can help extend the life of a roof, allowing building owners and facility managers to defer the capital costs of re-roofing (and the expensive business disruption re-roofing can cause).

Even for roofs with years of service life remaining, coatings can help protect the original roof from further ultraviolet (UV) and infrared heat degradation. The heat shock that accompanies massiv swings in temperatures has a debilitating effect on watertight seals, flashings, rubber roofing and asphalt. Coatings that reflect the sun’s UV rays and infrared radiation reduce absorbed heat and prolong roof life.

Coatings that reflect heat can also help protect against the other kind of shock — opening the monthly energy bill. Particularly for flat- or low-sloped buildings with air-conditioning ducts that run through the plenum, roof coatings can substantially reduce summer cooling costs (even more true if the plenum space is uninsulated). Cool roofing studies conducted by demonstrate that cool roofs (those that reflect the sun’s rays) can reduce energy costs for large buildings with moderate insulation by 10-20%.

To use roof coatings successfully, it is critical that building owners and facility managers understand the situations best suited for coating applications. Two situations are common reasons to apply a roof coating:
  1. To maximize roof life and minimize energy bills with a roof that reflects harmful ultraviolet light and infrared rays.
  2. To make a mid-life roof watertight and maintainable.
Other, less common situations might warrant the use of coatings as well:
  • Reflective coatings applied when the roof was installed require periodic re-coating to restore the reflective properties and prolong the life of the roof.
  • Coatings also can serve cosmetic purposes. For facilities with roofs exposed to common view beneath a highway overpass, or next to high-rise structures, for example — coatings can improve roof aesthetics.
  • Certain coatings also can retard flame spread. These UL-listed coatings are typically specified with the roof installation, though they can be applied later.
Roof coatings aren't always the answer

For all they are capable of, coatings should not be viewed as a cure-all for roof issues. If the roof is not structurally sound, it has to be replaced. You can not just coat a roof and expect miracles.

Coatings are versatile, but they are not appropriate in every instance. In some cases, roofs are significantly deteriorated and the only viable and cost-effective option is a comprehensive tear-off and re-roof.

Do not think of a coating as something that will solve all your roofing problems. If you have a roof leak, you need to fix it before you apply a coating. A coating will probably stop the leak, but that fix won’t last as long as if you fix the leak and then apply the coating.

Overall, roof coatings are a great option in the right situation. The best advice is to contact a professional roofing contractor who specializes in roof coatings to find out if your roof is a candidate.

Tired of labor problems and low profit margins?
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| (309) 303-3128 | |

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Selecting The Right Roofing Products - Owner Considerations

Yesterday we discussed climate considerations for selecting the right roofing products, but there are also considerations from the building owner's perspective that must be considered.

First, the building owner's intentions for the building should be your top consideration in roof selection. If the owner intends to flip the building as soon as possible, roof system cost becomes the primary driver. However, long-term holders and owner-occupied buildings are best served with a roof system designed with long-term use in mind.

Second, insurance can affect the choice of a roof system. If the building is insured by a Factory Mutual (FM) company, the FM design and installation requirements must be followed to the letter. Other insurers may have their own standards to follow, so you should always check with the insurance company during the design phase to be certain.

Third is the budget. Long before the roof is to be installed you should have a roof inspection performed by a competent roofing contractor, consulting architect or engineer who will give you an unbiased opinion of when the roof will need to be replaced and the probable construction costs for the replacement. A consultant can tell you whether you can re-cover or if a tear-off is needed and can prepare construction documents that anticipate all of these considerations prior to bidding the work. Having an adequate budget for the roof can help ensure the building owner's needs are met.

Finally, you need contractors available who know how to properly install the desired roof. When selecting a roof, you should identify contractors available to install it. Using local roofers is a good idea as they can respond more quickly to problems than if they are located far from the job site.

Knowing what you need before you obtain bids and being sure you communicate these needs to the contractors can help make sure the roof you have installed will perform well and have a nice, long life.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Selecting The Right Roofing Products - Climate Considerations

The amount and type of precipitation, temperature and wind are the aspects of climate that should most affect the design and selection of the roof system for a building.

A building located in a dry climate like the desert southwest does not need the same type of roof as a building subjected to daily rains like in the pacific northwest. Places that have high fees for wastewater removal may want to consider a vegetated roof to absorb stormwater. However, rain isn't the only consideration. Snow can drift and collect in corners, topping flashings and cause leaks. Hail can puncture the roof system, requiring a roof that can withstand abuse. If there is a wide temperature spread between winter and summer, a roof system that will expand and contract with thermal movement is a good choice.

Climate also affects the amount of insulation needed. Predominantly hot areas should consider a reflective roof system to save on cooling costs. In mostly cold climates, energy savings depend on the cost of heating energy compared with cooling, the slope of roof, insulation, and overall building dimensions. One resource to determine whether a roof will have energy benefits is the Department of Energy's Roof Savings Calculator. Heat sinks may also be considered for hot climates to lessen the amount of thermal shock that can occur when a roof is suddenly cooled during a rainstorm.

Identifying the wind uplift requirements is important in areas prone to hurricanes or other high wind events. Anywhere the wind gusts more than gale force should take wind into consideration (even a 40-mile-per-hour wind can cause a poorly attached roof to peel).

Tomorrow we will discuss considerations for selecting the right roofing products from the building owner's perspective.

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Make more $$ spraying coatings with Conklin Roofing Systems!
Patton Services
| (309) 303-3128 | |

Friday, September 9, 2011

What to Consider When Selecting a Roof System (Part 4)

You know you need a new roof, but where do you start? The most common method is to call three roofers to get independant proposals and then compare. But how do you know what to get proposals for? How do you pick a roof system that is best suited to your building? A step-by-step look at the various factors that affect the roof (and the needs of the building) is the best approach to answering those questions.

Yesterday we discussed reviewing the existing roof as part of the process to select the right roof system for your building. Today we will review a construction checklist you should go over with each roofing contractor that submits a proposal to you.

Construction Checklist
  1. What type of deck do I have?
  2. What is the slope of the deck?
  3. What is the condition of the deck?
  4. Does the roof drain well?
  5. Do I have sufficient overflow capacity?
  6. How will the extra thickness of the roof affect overflows and flashing heights?
  7. What access is there for materials and personnel?
  8. How can debris be removed?
  9. Is there a lot of equipment on the roof to be flashed?
  10. Is the roof a wide open expanse, or small sections?
  11. Do I have parapet walls?
  12. What is the load bearing capacity of the structural system?
  13. Is there the possibility of abuse by repair people or vandalism?
We hope you enjoyed this four-part blog series on what to consider when selecting a roof system. If you have any questions, please call Patton Services at (309) 303-3128 or email

Find a Contractor

Tired of labor problems and low profit margins?
Make more $$ spraying coatings with Conklin Roofing Systems!
Patton Services
| (309) 303-3128 | |

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What to Consider When Selecting a Roof System (Part 3)

You know you need a new roof, but where do you start? The most common method is to call three roofers to get independant proposals and then compare. But how do you know what to get proposals for? How do you pick a roof system that is best suited to your building? A step-by-step look at the various factors that affect the roof (and the needs of the building) is the best approach to answering those questions.

Yesterday we discussed the importance of the building's characteristics in regards to selecting the right roof system. Today we will review evaluation of the existing roof and how that should play in to your decision.

Evaluate the Existing Roof
Existing deck construction and whether the roof drains properly or not will influence the kinds of roofs that can be installed. Decks with a slope greater than 2:12 can use most membrane systems, as well as roof systems like shingle or tile designed to combine watershed and
aesthetics. Slopes lower than 2:12 must be a water barrier system because they do not drain as quickly.

The type of deck may be the deciding factor in how the roof is fastened. Roofs over steel, lightweight insulating concrete, wood, gypsum and cementitious wood fiber planks generally are best installed with fasteners, while those on structural concrete are best adhered.

The condition of the deck is also important to consider. If the deck is in poor condition, re-covering the existing membrane is not a good option as the installation may ignore life safety issues. Ballasted installations, vegetated roofs or heavy re-covers may overload the structural capacity of the roof.

Drainage requirements should also be identified. If water stays on the roof more than 48 hours, the roof has a ponding problem. Because most manufacturers do not warrant areas of ponded water, the new roof should incorporate a way to remove the water, such as new drains or tapered insulation. The number and size of overflow drains should be identified. If the elevation of the roof gets higher due to a re-cover or from adding more insulation, it may partially or completely block overflows or bring the roof assembly to a non-code-complying height. This will mean that the overflows may have to be moved, added or changed, which is an expensive process. Increasing the thickness of the roof also may cause through-wall flashings and door thresholds to be too low.

It's important to identify anticipated abuse. If the roof has equipment that requires regular maintenance, there will be foot traffic on the roof. However, abuse to the roof can happen from window washing equipment and personnel, smokers and vandalism. If abuse is possible, the resulting design should incorporate extra toughness in the form of extra thickness or extra plies.

Tomorrow we will review a checklist of questions for you to ask the roofing contractors you request bids from.

Find a Contractor

Tired of labor problems and low profit margins?
Make more $$ spraying coatings with Conklin Roofing Systems!
Patton Services
| (309) 303-3128 | |

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What to Consider When Selecting a Roof System (Part 2)

You know you need a new roof, but where do you start? The most common method is to call three roofers to get independant proposals and then compare. But how do you know what to get proposals for? How do you pick a roof system that is best suited to your building? A step-by-step look at the various factors that affect the roof (and the needs of the building) is the best approach to answering those questions.

Yesterday we discussed regulatory requirements, aesthetics and fire codes. Today we will review the importance of the building's characteristics in regards to selecting the right roof system.

Building Characteristics
The building height, floor plate, location on the site, access to the roof, type and slope of deck, amount of equipment on roof and its location, drainage, and even the elevator's availability, load capacity and size are considerations that influence roof choice.

The building height will change the wind loads on the roof and so a roof's uplift resistance may be a major factor. The height may affect accessibility to the roof. This is further impacted by the availability, size and load capacity of the service elevator. If the height of the building or location on the site does not allow for a crane and there is no other way to get materials to the roof and debris off it, the choice of roofing system will be limited to what can be hand carried or brought in by helicopter.

The length and width of the floor plate of the building can also affect the design of the roof. If the building is a large industrial or retail building, the width may be too large to safely run extension cords for heat welding machines or to deliver asphalt to the work area at a hot enough temperature to assure adhesion. The length of the materials delivery run may encourage smaller pieces that can be delivered to the work area by wheelbarrow.

Take note of whether the building has parapet walls (the walls that extend above the roof line). Parapets over 3 feet high will change the wind uplift characteristics of the roof and will also trap snow that can drift above the tops of flashings. Most thermoplastic (TPO) single-ply systems are slippery when wet, so if there are no parapets there is the danger that staff working on the roof after a rain could slide off. The height of the parapet walls can also determine how they are flashed.

Tomorrow we will discuss how an evaluation of your existing roof should affect your decision of which roof system to have installed.

Find a Contractor

Tired of labor problems and low profit margins?
Make more $$ spraying coatings with Conklin Roofing Systems!
Patton Services
| (309) 303-3128 | |