Glenn L. Downs Elementary School Opts for a Self-Adhered Roof Membrane

April 21, 2005
“Out with the old and in with the new” was the mantra at Phoenix’s Glenn L. Downs Elementary School when signs of deterioration began to appear on the building’s roof. With years of wear brought on by exposure to the hot Arizona sun, the school’s 30-year-old multi-layer BUR modified bitumen roof was in dire need of repair.  Instead of just hiring a contractor to install another roof, the school’s architect, Phoenix-based Orcutt/Winslow Partnership, used another approach. They sought advice from Peoria, AZ-based Western Roof Evaluation Corp. (WRECORP), a roof consultant committed to providing professional diagnostic roof analysis and consultation services.  Brown is a member of the Raleigh, NC-based Roof Consultants Institute, the industry’s premier professional consulting organization. With WRECORP’s help, the architects and school officials decided on a newer roofing technology – self-adhesive modified bitumen membranes. Everyone agreed it would be safer and more environmentally friendly than the traditional hot-mopped; torched-down; or smelly, cold-applied roofing methods.  “The [Cartwright] School District was skeptical of using self-adhesive membranes since it is a relatively newer system in the area. Several schools throughout the school district needed roof replacements, but none had experienced the environmental advantages of self-adhesive membranes as of yet,” said Michael Sundberg, project manager of Orcutt/Winslow Partnership. Jerry Brown, owner and roof consultant at WRECORP, reviewed the benefits of a leading system, Polyglass’ Polyflex SA self-adhering roofing systems featuring ADESO® Self Adhering Technologies, for the school district. Based on his research, the architects and school officials agreed that self-adhesive membranes would be the best choice because of the membranes’ superior SealLap side lap and FastLap end lap system. These unique sealing techniques provide a clean, instantaneous bond between the membrane sheets, which creates a watertight seam immediately.The school’s 55,000-square-foot roof renovation consisted of two Elastoflex SA self-adhering base sheets, covered by a Polyflex SA self-adhering granulated cap sheet, which met all of their project requirements. In addition they were confident that they had used an environmentally responsible system that created no fumes and provided optimum safety for workers, building occupants, and neighbors during construction. Self-adhered membranes meet green construction criteria and standards that allow contractors to install them without omitting harmful odors. This benefit allows contractors to install the membrane when the building is in full operation with no interruptions to schedules or routine operations. Similar to roof installations on hospitals, food processing, government facilities, and other high-density occupancy projects, school applications should ensure the cleanest environmental atmosphere possible.After four buildings were re-roofed, officials were pleased that no clean-up or spillage occurred. “We wanted to use something that was self-contained in rolls in order to avoid a mess,” said Brown, who has consulted with the architects for 3 years. “It was also important that during renovations, openings in the roof would not be susceptible to leakage into the interior that could potentially damage the carpet, ceiling tiles, or floors.”Along with safe application and cleanliness, access to the building was a major concern during installation. The finger-wing style of the school, which had 10 classrooms in each wing, would not allow large equipment to be placed near the building. And the school’s tight proximity to the surroundings left no room for the bulkiness of a hot kettle system. “Even if the school had wanted to use a hot kettle system, the roofing crews would have had a difficult time getting the kettles next to the buildings,” said Brown. “That challenge alone would have involved a lot of risk and mess. It would not have been a good choice for the school.”Although the school’s regular classes were not in session at the time of the roof renovation, the consultant still wanted to minimize any potential risk of injury or disruption because of other activities going on close to the school. Aside from these obvious reasons for choosing the self-adhesive system, the school district also faced budget challenges based on changes in state funding. In the 1990s, it was determined that bonding for school work was unconstitutional because it led to unequal funding and allowed wealthier school districts to make more repairs and have better facilities than schools in less financially stable areas. The Polyglass Self Adhered Systems were competitively priced and fit well into those existing budgets.“In 1999, there was a lawsuit that provoked the state to set minimal standards for schools,” stated Jeff Smith, director for new construction for the Cartwright School District. State officials evaluated 72 projects in Arizona. There are now set standards for funding new schools, which has the state going back and repairing existing schools.  Once the schools are repaired, each school is responsible for maintaining its own facilities.”  As the school approaches the end of its year, other repairs are slated, but the roof is one element that will not have to be replaced for a long time. Warranted for 20 years, the Polyglass roof system works well for the school’s short-term and long-term challenges.  “The self-adhesive membranes that are available today are utilizing new technologies, like Polyglass’ ADESO® Technology, to create durable membranes that can be installed without disturbing school functions,” said Sundberg.  Brown agrees: “It’s understandable that people have a hard time adjusting to something new and different. But the self-adhesives of today are not the same as the self-adhesive membranes of the 1980s. It was hard for the school to get past not using the traditional torch-down or cold-applied systems, but the self-adhesive system was safer, cleaner, and simply a better environmental solution for the long-term.”

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations