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How Commercial Roofs are Reducing Environmental Impact

2 Mar 2017 | Under Energy Efficiency, Roofing | Posted by | 0 Comments
SPF Solar Energy R&A Contracting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports 40 million tons of roofing waste finds its permanent home in U.S. landfills every year. (EPA) This staggering amount of tearoff material constitutes approximately 25 percent of total construction waste. Commercial roofing contributed more to landfill volume in the past calendar year than many industries will contribute in the next decade.

When our team first read these statistics, it was overwhelming. It’s hard to imagine so much waste going to landfills that are polluting our planet. We’ve seen how much material can accumulate from our commercial roof tearoff and it’s an impressive amount! Seeing what commercial roof waste is doing to landfills across the world is heartbreaking.

Thankfully, roofing material suppliers are employing more recycling initiatives than ever to decrease roofing waste and protect our environment moving forward. The past ten years has seen a massive improvement in reducing environmental impact from roofing material waste. We’re excited at R&A Contracting to see businesses taking care of our planet for future generations to enjoy.

There are several strategic measures that companies are leveraging to make commercial roofs and their impact more eco-friendly moving forward. R&A Contracting is committed to researching and implementing the latest in responsible commercial roof installation, repair, and tearoff.

Spray Polyurethane Foam(SPF) Roofs Preserve the Life-Cycle of Commercial Roof Systems

Spray Polyurethane Foam roofs, or SPF roofs as they’re often called, are the most energy-efficient cool roofing solution available today. SPF roofs are applied in a dual-compound liquid format on-site via spray applicator. Two connecting hoses draw isocyanate and polyol fiber from separate drums and mix the compound as part of the application process.

The liquid compound causes an immediate chemical reaction upon contact. The reaction results in a rapid-expansion foam that adheres to virtually any roofing substrate. As amazing as this solution is, we need to ask a practical question: what does this have to do with environmental impact?

By adhering to metal, wood, brick, stone, and other roofing surfaces, spray polyurethane foam creates an instant bond with surface material as it begins to harden. The surface adhesion and subsequent hardening of the foam results in an increased strength of the contact material. In other words, the roofing material is stronger and harder because it bonds with the spray foam upon contact.

testing new formulation foam for Lapolla

Commercial roofing systems have varying lengths of life-cycles. The main material of a commercial roofing system determines the length of a typical roof life-cycle:

  • Built-up, including asphalt, coal tar, modified bitumen, and gravel – Average life-cycle of 10-15 years with proper maintenance.
  • Concrete – Average life-cycle of 35-50 years with proper maintenance.
  • Single-ply membrane roofing, including TPO & EPDM – Average life-cycle of 25-30 years with proper maintenance.
  • Liquid-applied systems using high-tech polymers (example: Spray polyurethane foam roofs) – Average life-cycle of over 50 years for SPF roofs with proper re-application and maintenance.
  • Metal sloped roofs – often used on the top of high-rise structures – Average life-cycle of 40 years with proper maintenance. (Source)

SPF is extending the life of commercial roofs by creating a second envelope to protect existing roof systems from UV rays, storm debris, and extreme temperatures.

Reduction in Roofing-related VOC Emissions From Commercial Roofing Materials

Volatile organic compounds… if the label doesn’t give it away, think of dangerous chemical emitting toxins into the air and environment. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs as they’re often referred to, are at an all-time high among commercial roofing waste. What we may not realize is that much of commercial roofing tearoff is causing health risks.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.” (EPA) Known health risks associated with volatile organic compounds include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, and in extreme cases, cancer. (CDC)

The good news is an increasing number of commercial roof adhesive and sealant technologies now feature zero to low levels of VOC formulations. The Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) is monitoring VOC regulations to help commercial roofing companies continue protecting employees and anyone else who comes into contact with commercial roofing waste.

Our R&A Contracting team treats our team members and customers as we want to be treated. The safety of everyone involved as well as preventing planet pollution is important to us. This is why we stay current with VOC regulations and strive to use the lowest amount of VOC formulas as possible.

Our goal is to use only zero-VOC products as much as possible. As more zero-VOC products come to market, we eagerly change out any existing products with VOCs to keep our jobsite safe from toxins. No one’s health is worth the cost of using just any commercial roofing project. From application to tearoff and landfill, we want everyone, including animals in the city dump, to be safe from poisonous gases and chemicals.

Solar Energy Combined With Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing Systems is Producing Energy

A growing trend in commercial roofing is the installation of solar energy panels onto existing roofing surfaces followed by an SPF roof coating. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels convert sunlight (photons) directly into electrical energy (voltage) in what’s referred to as the PV effect. This compounding energy approach is saving commercial building owners significant money on energy bills while reducing energy demands on power plants and other utilities.

SPF-Roofing-Solar-Power-RA-Contracting

The first test is to determine whether a commercial roof deck is strong enough to support the weight of a SPF roofing solution. Our R&A Contracting team uses Lapolla Industries’ FOAM-LOKTM 2000 Closed-Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam for many of our spray foam projects. The FOAM-LOKTM 2000 has a core density of 2.0-2.3 lbs./ft3, which can add up over a 30,000+ ft.2 commercial roof.

The next step is to calculate whether the same roof can hold photovoltaic (PV) panels as well as a SPF roofing solution. Thankfully, many commercial roofing systems are more than up for the task of carrying SPF and PV panels. Installing a set of anchors or a ballast system to hold the PV panels will keep the panels in place. Once the rest of the SPF roofing solution is installed, the PV panels can be put into place with a racking system supported by anchors or ballasts.

The end result is a phenomenal combination of reducing energy transfer, specifically heat-index transfer via UV rays, by SPF and absorbing those same rays into transferrable energy through PV panels. Ultra-efficient solar energy systems are allowing commercial buildings to be ‘off the grid’ and saving owners thousands of dollars and more every year.

High R-Value Commercial Roofs are More Energy-Efficient Than Ever

We’ve shared before about the significant energy efficiency of SPF roofing. Energy-efficiency ratings are typically calculated in four different values:

Any conversation about high R-Value ratings in commercial roofing systems needs to start with SPF roofing. Spray polyurethane foam roofing solutions have the highest R-Value rating on average than any other commercial roofing solution or system on the market to date.

The FOAM-LOKTM 2000 from Lapolla Industries we mentioned earlier has an aged R-Value above 6.0 per inch! (Lapolla Industries) Read more here about how SPF roofs have serious energy-saving advantages. By installing an elastomeric Thermo-Flex UV coating, SPF roofs are even better protected against harmful UV rays and the wear-and-tear that often occur with commercial roofing systems. SPF roofing material also has an industry-leading K-Value rating that allows businesses to reduce the weight load on their roof while maximizing energy efficiency.

Make the Right Decision, Start a Conversation with R&A Contracting

If you’re a commercial building owner, you know how expensive it is to repair or even replace your roof. Making the right decision for your budget and for the environment doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ decision. Spray polyurethane foam roofs can keep your current roof intact, extend its life-cycle, reduce energy costs, and limit environmental impact for years to come. Instead of paying for a costly tearoff, you can invest in an energy-savvy, eco-friendly option by installing an SPF roof.

You may have questions and concerns about SPF roofing. How much does SPF roofing cost? What are the tax benefits? Are there any options that are more affordable to meet a lower budget? Will SPF roofing really improve energy-efficiency?

You’ve come to the right place. Our R&A Contracting team loves answering questions, finding the right information for you, and helping you make the best decision for your budget. The first step is starting a conversation with our team member.

Click here to send us a message. We’ll contact you at the first opportunity.

I’d be an idiot if I did not take this opportunity to communicate to you how much we appreciate the way in which you conduct business and take care of our facility. In my experience you, and your team, are at the top of the list of all the roofing companies I’ve dealt with over the years. Thank you!

Jim Lowry - Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier

Eric and crew were really nice to have around. They were courteous, careful and caused little if any disruption. Their work looks good too! To be honest… a good experience with a product that I initially had misgivings about. I’m a convert because of Bubba, Sam and Eric. Thank you.

Jim Lowry - Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier

“I want to thank the crew at R&A for a job well done on our very leaky roof at the shop. It is certainly nice to have the drips and rivers gone from the shop when it is raining. I also wanted you to know how much we appreciated that the guys were able to stay out of our way and allowed us to do business as usual without any problems or interruptions. The roof looks great and the clean-up after the job made it so we couldn’t even tell you’d been here. Thanks for doing what you do so well!”

Jay Moore, President of Safe Way Tire and Auto Center

“My wife and I were on vacation when water pipes burst in our house. We got a hold of Craig and the R&A crew was able to start evacuating the water immediately. The best part was that they were able to start work before we even returned home. It was a very fast turnaround considering the extensive amount of water damage.”

Will from Dardenne Prairie, MO

“Craig and Mike came out in a timely fashion when we needed the work done. They did a reliable and quality job.”

Jerry from SLR Properties

“Craig helped us out tremendously with the insurance process. Timely and very professional.”

Lindell from Greater Missouri Builders (GMB)

“We purchased a house and there was some damage to the roof. Very impressed with the thoroughness of Mike’s inspection. Very comfortable with their explanation of what needed to be fixed. Most impressive was the way they protected our landscaping. Really liked the way they treated me as a valued customer, even though it was only a small project.”

Ross from Troy, MO

“I use R&A Contracting when my commercial roofs receive storm damage. They work on our behalf through every step of the insurance claim process. They perform all of the work and complete the insurance process, making our roofs better than they were before the storm.”

Director of Facilities for a large Property Management Company

“The team at R & A Contracting responded immediately when notified of our water disaster. They removed water-damaged materials and property quickly and restored our home even before the final settlement from our insurance company. They minimized how long our family had to live in a hotel and got us back to normal as fast as possible.”

Will from O'Fallon, MO