In this day of troubled economies, corporate downsizing, and the drive for bottom-line profitability, corporate executives are looking anywhere they can to find synergies, efficiencies, and areas where they can reduce expenses. And that search now includes the roof, where money can be found through proactive maintenance programs. An often overlooked opportunity to significantly save money (or to contribute to corporate) profits is in the area of corporate facilities maintenance and management.The Fifth WallOn industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings, the roof serves as the fifth wall of the building. Extreme heat and cold, extreme UV, heavy rains and winds, chemical spillage, and rooftop traffic are the most common attacks that a roof must withstand on a regular basis. These roofing systems must be 100-percent effective in order to keep water out of buildings.On a 100,000-square-foot roof, 99.999-percent perfection would still leave the potential for one square foot of total roof area to be defective.Let’s imagine that one square foot of defective roofing is divided up in 144 square inches, and each of these square inches was spread out over the entire roof. The result is 144 leaks, with a one-inch square hole or split at each leak location. This damage can result in many types of consequential damages [to]:Roof insulation and deck.Interior ceiling tile, walls, and floor.Interior furnishings and fixtures.Interior office equipment.Interior production equipment.Finished goods and inventory.Electrical systems.Air quality. The Hidden Costs of a Roof LeakInterior roof leaking can also result in other expenses and legal exposures to your company that can be at least as costly (if not more) than any of the areas previously mentioned. They include:Downtime of production areas – lost revenues.Lost use of space – lost revenues.Tenant complaints, lost use of income, lawsuits.Slip and fall accidents and legal claims.Mold and mildew problems resulting in air quality issues and clean-up expenses.Employee morale and productivity issues.Regular and overtime labor expenses for clean-up and repair work resulting from roof leaks.The problem in most companies is that they do not track these consequential damage items as being roofing-related expenses.Deferred MaintenanceMost American businesses have adopted a strategy of deferred maintenance rather than a proactive maintenance approach. While this approach can definitely reduce short-term maintenance budgets, it almost always translates into increased maintenance and capital expense budgets for roofing failures due to neglect.Clearly, without considering any of the costs associated with the consequential damages or legal liabilities issues presented earlier, adopting a proactive roof maintenance and management program will allow most companies to save significant bottom-line dollars on an annual basis. And executives used to think that roofs couldn’t make their companies any money.Bob Lyons is principal of Tampa, FL-based Lyons/Waldron Consulting Group LLC, and co-founder and first two-term president of the Roof Consultants Institute (RCI). Contact Lyons at Lyons/Waldron Consulting Group LLC, 3016 U.S. Hwy. 301 N., Ste 900, Tampa, FL 33619; (813) 630-9578; Fax (813) 664-1391; E-mail [email protected]; Web www.lyons-waldron.com.This article was excerpted from “Commercial Roofing Solutions: A Building Owner’s Guide to Roof Maintenance,” a supplement mailed to subscribers with the May issue of Buildings magazine. For more information, contact GAF Materials Corp. at (www.gaf.com).