Take Control of Your Roofing

April 11, 2007

For most, roofing design is left to professional designers, specifiers, roofing contractors, and/or roofing consultants. However, getting the right system and maintaining that system may fall to you, and the blame for roof leakage or failure may come your way.

For most, roofing design is left to professional designers, specifiers, roofing contractors, and/or roofing consultants. However, getting the right system and maintaining that system may fall to you, and the blame for roof leakage or failure may come your way.

Taking Advantage of the Internet
The trouble with the Internet may be that there is just too much information available, and some of it will be slanted toward a particular product or system. Acquiring useful information requires enough knowledge of the subject to discern between the good and the hype.

Since the Roofing Industry Educational Institute (RIEI) was folded into the National Roofing Foundation approximately 5 years ago, there has been a reduction in offered programs, creating a gap in finding unbiased roofing information.

RCI Inc. has recently expanded its scope to include roofing, waterproofing, and the building envelope. RCI has taken major steps toward filling the educational gap by employing both an educational director and technical director. Partial funding comes from its Educational Foundation.

RCI’s first formal course was Roofing Technology and Science, matching The Better Understanding of Roofing Systems Institute (BURSI) and RIEI's 4-day Basic Roofing Technology programs. It is of benefit to anyone with a need for understanding low-slope commercial roofing systems. Other programs introduced by RCI include a brand new, online, 1-day Introduction to Roofing program for those just entering the roofing industry. Additional RCI offerings include:

  • Advanced Thermal and Moisture Theory.
  • Advanced Waterproofing.
  • Construction Specifications and the Project Manual.
  • Professional Roof Consulting.
  • Roof Asset Management.
  • Rooftop Safety for Consultants and Building Owners.
  • Roofing Quality Assurance.
  • Registered Roof Consultant (RRC) Review and Update.
  • Wind and Drainage Theory.

These courses are usually conducted by roofing professionals, and are supported by digital presentations and training manuals.

RCI also offers three professional registration programs:

  1. Registered Roof Consultant.
  2. Registered Roof Observer.
  3. Registered Waterproofing Consultant.

Other programs may be of equal quality, such as the annual roofing seminar held at the University of Wisconsin (http://epd.engr.wisc.edu/). The granddaddy of all programs is BURSI, which has been in constant operation since 1972 (www.jm.com/roofing_systems/2357.htm).

In addition, many material manufacturers offer schools on their products and systems, and may even offer on-site programs for you and your staff.

Attending Trade Shows and Roofing Symposia
Unfortunately, major trade shows usually display the golf course on the cover of their promotional brochure, and the host hotel prices are not cheap. This is understandable to attract both attendees and their spouses to destination cities, but may give the impression that the trade show/conference is mostly fun and games. For those who need intense education in a hurry, this may not meet needs.

On the other hand, there are serious conferences offered that definitely fill gaps in your education. An excellent example of this was the RCI Foundation's 2-day program, “Cool Roofing: Cutting through the Glare,” held May 12 and 13, 2005. Even today, these presentations are pertinent to the cool-roofing issue and fairly present both the pros and cons of reflective roofs. (Hard copies and CD versions are available from RCI.)

Other Media
Many materials suppliers have produced educational DVDs that are quite informative in terms of the inspection and repair of both low-slope and steep-sloped roofing systems.

ASTM conducts symposia on Roofing Research and Standards Development approximately every 5 years. They will be too advanced for roofing novices, but if you represent a major building operator and have an opportunity to study roofing in greater depth, these programs may be for you. ASTM is a consensus organization, and users such as building owners and operators have made major contributions to ASTM’s consensus process. Proceedings of previous symposia are available from the ASTM bookstore.

Trade Associations
In addition to RCI (as previously mentioned), excellent resource material is available from other roofing industry trade associations.

The National Roof Deck Contractors Association (NRDCA), the Steel Deck Institute (SDI), The Engineered Wood Association (APA), and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) have all produced important resource material, as well as offer search engines on their websites. The NRCA produces low-slope and steep-slope materials guides, which identify most of the industry's systems in detail. Especially valuable is a discussion of each manufacturer's warranties, highlighting such features as exclusions, owner responsibilities, notification requirements, etc.

The Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI) represents sheet membrane and related component suppliers in the commercial roofing industry. In a unique move that (hopefully) other associations will follow, SPRI has put online (for free download) all of the ANSI standards that have been developed by SPRI/ANSI. These include:

  • ANSI/SPRI FX-1 2006
  • ANSI/SPRI IA-1 2005
  • ANSI/SPRI RD-1 2004
  • ANSI/SPRI ES-1 2003
    • ES-1 Testing In the Industry
    • Why ES-1? A Quick Reference Guide
    • Wind Design Calculator
    • ES-1 FAQ's
  • ANSI/SPRI RP-4 2002
  • ANSI/SPRI FX-1 2001
  • ANSI SPRI ES-1 1998
  • ANSI/SPRI RP-4 1997

Comprehensive information on roofing systems and maintenance is available from the Department of Defense (visit www.wbdg.org/ccb/DOD/UFC/ufc_3_110_03.pdf and www.wbdg.org/ccb/DOD/UFC/ufc_3_110_04.pdf).

Recently updated is The Manual of Low-Slope Roof Systems, McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Despite disparaging remarks earlier in this column on trade conventions, you and key members of your staff should attend at least one show per year. Regional programs help you to meet the industry members who are available locally and give you an opportunity to collect information and samples to build your personal reference library.

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