FACTS about Public Roofing Procurement, and Oversight. Copyright 2010 by Robert R. Solomon

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Attic Insulation Value"

Thermal coefficient, or "R" value is probably the most critical concern when designing energy efficient structures.

Today, we'll discuss the residential application (and types) of attic insulation. I do not endorse manufacturers, but felt the most common point of reference might be the "Pink Panther" and Owens Corning. They do a wonderful job in their fiberglass roof insulation division, and would like you to consider the following from them:


Homeowners prefer Owens Corning PINK FIBERGLAS™ Insulation 7 to 1 because it maintains insulating power over time. Since fiber glass does not absorb moisture, PINK insulation will not hold water, preventing permanent loss of R-value. When properly installed, PINK FIBERGLAS™ Insulation will not settle or deteriorate to maintain insulating value. The insulating materials in PINK FIBERGLAS™ Insulation are also noncombustible.

I prefer fiberglass attic insulation vs. cellulose (essentially shredded newspaper). The Cellulose is without question, the least expensive (by far), and in some cases CAN contain a firetardant, so I don't want my statements here to be "all encompassing", as that would be unfair.

However, you cannot get around the fact, that when cellulose is used, vermin love to nest in it, attic condensation causes it to compress and lose thermal value. I think everyone knows that insulation cannot perform if not for tiny pockets of encapsulated air. So, when it's wet, it loses a huge amount of thermal resistance capacity. Pretty easy so far?

Okay, there's also the fire hazard aspect. Should a fire break out in the attic, the untreated cellulose (newspaper) would act exactly as you'd expect it to (source of fuel). I've never seen anyone wrap their children in a highly flammable paper product when putting them to sleep. Horrible thought, but illustrative.

Fiberglass, or Owens Corning "Fiberglas" brand might be a very good option if you are in the market for attic iinsulation. If performance, not lowest cost, is your determining factor, I don't really see how anyone could compare the two.

As a side note, Owens Corning has actually trademarked the "pink" color, which is why you will never see a pink insulation that iws not Owens Corning. You can believe that Owens Corning is fiercely protective of it's brand with the insulation, and of course the "Pink Panther".

In my state of Florida, an R-30 is recommended, but benefit is recognized with additional insulation. Care should be taken not to obstruct the ventilation process, but your roofer (particularly if they are approved by Owens Corning)will be well aware not to block the soffit venting.

I've had the pleasure of interacting with corporate staff, find them very well trained, and a fine company to deal with. Fiberglass is fiberglass. You can make your own decision regarding who you buy it from. They are all readily available at your local home improvement centers.

So, I hope the above provides you the knowledge to safely, and effectively insulate your attic. Insulation is without question, the best edollar you can spend in home improvement. If you are a DIY person, it can be easily rolled out, but I can tell you the attic heat will come upon you rather swiftly, so please be VERY CONCERNED when subjecting yourself to elevated temperatures.

I would suggest you be well hydrated, have someone with you, and someone in the home to check on you every 15 minutes or so. SAFETY is our first concern, and then you can enjoy the reduction in energy cost.

Thank you to Owens Corning for the image.

As always, thanks for visiting, and keep looking "UP".

Robert R. "Ron" Solomon
CCC1325620 Florida

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Deeply Appreciative"

Thank you to all the kind and gentle people worldwide who take time to visit with me here. I am deeply appreciative, because writing objectively, and seeing someone on the other side of this planet respond is invigorating at minimum. Humbling may be a better word.

I won't discuss roofing today, as it is the furthest thing from my mind.

Please know this little blog is a form of expression for me, and hopefully a reliable place where I can answer your questions absent of prejudice. Your cooperation and interest mean the world to me, and now that our introductory phase is over, will be addressing many specific topics in 2011.

Mrs. Solomon and I wish you, and your families a joyful and blessed Christmas.

Look around for the many blessings that surround you, praise them, and always keep looking "UP".



Thursday, December 16, 2010

"OIL SANDS" - The extraction of Bitumen used in roofing materials"

By now you are very aware I do not think building structures made of oil is a good idea. Today, I will ask you to take a moment to read and view where these materials come from, and the environmental impact they have on each of you. There is a video later in this post, that you absolutely MUST see.

Oil Sands, Tar Sands, Bitumen, Oil Sands Define, Oil Sands news
Oil sands are a mixture of sand, water, clay and a highly viscous, dark and tar like petroleum substance called bitumen.

Here are some facts about bitumen:

•comprises polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
•is soluble in carbon disulfide.
•is highly inflammable.
•has been used in construction from its earliest times.
•can be separated from oil sands.
•helps to extract synthetic oil.

Canada dominates the production of bitumen. In 2006, Canada’s daily production of crude bitumen averaged roughly 1.1 million barrels. The 2007 oil market outlook indicated by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers predicts a huge increase in its daily production to 4.4 million barrels by 2020.

Large reserves of oil sands, also called as tar sands, were discovered in Venezuela and Canada. There are about 1.7 trillion barrels of reserves in Athabasca Oil Sands (Canada) and 1.8 trillion barrels of extra heavy crude in the Venezuelan Orinoco oil sands. In fact, the oil sands account for around 66% of the world’s total oil reserves, according to the energy business reports published in 2008.

Oil Sands: Uses
Oil sands and bitumen have various uses. Some are:

Bitumen is used in construction
and maintenance of roads.

Bitumen is often used for waterproofing the rooftops of buildings.

Ever since oil prices soared in 2003, oil sands have been used to extract synthetic crude oil.
Oil Sands: Importance

Decades ago, oil sands were too costly and unprofitable to pursue but now it has emerged as a key commodity in international trade. Further, outputs from the Athabasca Oil Sands are highly in demand with the US and China. These two countries compete to gain a larger share of Canada’s oil sand outputs. The political and economic importance of oil sands is predicted to soar in proportion to its four fold increase in output by 2020.

Oil Sands: Extraction and Processing
Oil sands are usually extracted by surface mining, which involves the removal of soil and rock that cover the mineral deposits.

Originally, draglines, bucket wheel excavators and conveyer belts were used for mining and transporting oil sands deposits to the processing plants. Now this is done by power shovels and dump trucks. Strip mining method is also used to reduce the viscosity of the deposits.

After excavation of the oil sands, they are treated with caustic soda and hot water. This helps to break the clumps. It converts them into the liquid form so that the resulting substance or slurry can be sent for processing to extraction plants.

The demand for oil sands is bound to grow as the world is poised to pursue profitable ventures in every sector and industry.

This may sound excessively boring to you, but the fact is, we continue to use these hydrocarbons in roofing. I've never heard a sane argument to support it's use vs. synthetic reflective roof membrane. I welcome any scientist, engineer, physicist, or anyone else to give it a shot. The premise is frail at best. They depend upon an uninformed public to simply accept it, and consider it my responsibility to share information with you, absent of prejudice.

As a state certified roofer, and conservative environmentalist, I can (and will) successfully debate my position with anyone who wishes to give it a try.

Okay, I know everyone likes pictures and video, so this is one of the best I've ever seen, and I really hope you take a moment to soak up some "REALITY".



In the interim, I will wish you all a very happy and productive day. "Stand For Something", and always keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon
CCC1325620 (Florida)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"U.S. Secretary Of Energy Confirms My Point"

My job of informing officials may have gotten a bit easier since Nobel Laureate, and U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, issued the following statements & video.

I can type 20 million words, but NOTHING will illustrate my point better than the video. PLEASE take 2 minutes to view it, and see where we're trying to go.


Energy Department Completes Cool Roof Installation on D.C. Headquarters Building to Save Money by Saving Energy
December 14, 2010

Secretary Steven Chu today announced the completion of a new cool roof installation on the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Headquarters West Building. There was no incremental cost to adding the cool roof as part of the roof replacement project and it will save taxpayers $2,000 every year in building energy costs. Cool roofs use lighter-colored roofing surfaces or special coatings to reflect more of the sun's heat, helping improve building efficiency, reduce cooling costs, and offset carbon emissions. The cool roof and increased insulation at the facility were installed as part of the federal government's commitment to lead by example in increasing energy efficiency, reducing carbon pollution and demonstrating the benefits of clean energy technologies.

The Department of Energy also released today a video with Secretary Chu that shows the installation of the roof and explains some of the benefits that come with this important technology. The video is available on the Energy Blog.

"The Department of Energy is leading by example, demonstrating how cool roofs can help achieve significant energy and cost savings. This is a simple, low-cost technology that can provide tremendous benefits for government, businesses and homeowners across the country," said Secretary Chu.

Earlier this year, Secretary Chu directed all Department of Energy offices to install cool roofs, whenever cost effective, when constructing a new roof or replacing an old one. The Department's new cool roof on the West Building covers approximately 25,000 square feet. In the spring, DOE will also install a cool roof on the Headquarters' South Building, covering approximately 66,000 square feet. As a result of the new cool roof installations on both buildings, taxpayers will save a total of $8,000 per year in energy costs.

Roofs and road pavement cover 50 to 65% of urban areas. Most traditional dark-colored roofing materials absorb 80 to 90% of incoming solar energy, increasing temperatures on the surface and in the case of roofing, heating the building, which in turn requires additional air conditioning. White or special "cool color" roofs absorb less than 50% of solar energy, reducing the roof temperature and decreasing the energy used in air conditioning.

A dark roof can reach temperatures above 180F on a hot day, while a cool roof can stay 50 degrees cooler. A study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

Trying as hard as I can to save money for schools, universities, DOC, etc., but bureaucracy, not science, is my biggest challenge.

I will post a few more times before Christmas, but am always very thankful for those of you who visit with me here. Think positively, reject negativity in all forms, and keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Persistance Pays Off"

Thank you for joining me today for what I consider a big announcement.

After three years of presentation, field trips, meetings, and debates, it appears I've been successful in the initial phase of changing petroleum based roofs on the schools in my district (11th. largest in the United States) to white synthetic single ply.

Why is that such big news Ron? Well it's big because it will save the district approximately 20% in energy cost, lower up front installed cost, and superior life cycle cost. It will eliminate the contaminants flowing from the roof (nitrogen and phosphorous) which inhibit microbial growth and wildlife.

Okay, I don't want to get heavy into my environmentalist mode, but all this advancement SAVES millions of dollars for the school district, and taxpayers.

Below, you will see comments by the district's Director of Construction, whom I have great respect for. He fought very hard, but he fought fair, and that's all a reasonable person can ask.


We're currently planning a warehouse roofing project at our Green Street Warehouse, that will incorporate a single-ply roof. If you don't mind reviewing the specification that we come up with, I'll send it to you before we make it final.

Folks, this is accomplished with absolutely no resources, only desire, and sheer will. I realize how abstract my excitement may appear, but it's an illustration of one person with a goal, accomplishing something on behalf of the many. I'd also like it to be a model for anyone who embarks upon a mission where others tell you "it's impossible". It isn't, and this is proof. You have to want it bad enough, and for the right reasons.

This is a major high school in my district using the old petroleum method. Is this something we need to change? Absolutely.

Energy modeling on a 200,000 sq. ft. compares white synthetic roof membrane over R-20 insulation, to modified bitumen in identical situatiion.

Term of the roof warranty is 30 years, and the model showed energy savings of $456,000.00, and a carbon reduction of 77,000 lbs.

The next photograph will show an actual 200,000 sq. ft. roof at BJ's Wholesale in Tampa, as a comparison.

Virtually all retailers have chosen the white synthetic for it's reflective properties and value. Clean water and energy reduction are a bonus. A BIG bonus.

The most difficult part of my advocacy is government structures where the money does not come from the building owner's pocket, but from the taxpayers. Wal-Mart, Target, BJ's, KMart, and many more see the multidimensional aspects, and specify them on all their stores.

Wal-Mart has been doing this for 10 years now, and I think we'll agree that if the largest private consumer of electricity in the United States uses it, it must be both serviceable, and a value.

Why doesn't the government see, what building owners see? You simply cannot argue in favor of petroleum. It can't be done.

The purpose of this post is to praise my school district, not to bury it.

I think that once we became comfortable with each other, and understood the common goal (the students and taxpayers), we were able to put aside all differences, and achieve on their behalf.

There is much work to be done with universities, department of corrections, etc., but this was very uplifting, as my victories are few and far between. But I cherish each of them on behalf of people who are better served as a result.

I know you cannot see the roof, so many people don't even acknowledge the most important component of a structure. Well, this is yet another visual for you, and it's very important you think about the simplicity of my statements.

As always, I am thankful you visit me here, and will work harder to bring interesting topics about, or related to, roof systems, and their effect on energy savings and the environment.

Thank you for caring about anything I have to say, and remember to keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

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