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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Are you smarter than Wal Mart"?

Hello everyone, and thank you for visiting with me today.

The "Are you smarter than Wal Mart"? question should have gotten your attention.

Okay, Ron, what do you mean by that?  What I mean is that Wal Mart is the most "Sustainability Conscious" corporation in the United States.  The statement is documented, and I have witnessed them in action many times.

You may be used to the daily news about some group suing Wal Mart every day in your newspaper, but that information will be next to the McDonald's, and Coca-Cola lawsuits.  Suits are not claimed against people without money obviously, as a judgement for 10 million dollars against someone who is without resources is  worth exactly $0.00.  "Easy Money" chasers don't have any complaints against you or I for that reason alone.  So, I just wanted to say thank you for the good they do, and show them in a more positive way.

1.)  Wal Mart is the largest private consumer of electricity in the United States.
2.)  Wal-Mart contributes $250,000,000.00 dollers each year for education and sustainability advancement.

I'd like you to actually be on top of a Wal Mart, like the one above.  The surface is vast at 250,000 sq. ft. , and reflects approximately 80% or more of the sun's radiant energy AWAY from the structure.  Average heat gain on this roof (TPO, or Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is only 10 degrees F., where a petroleum based white granular surfaced modified bitumen can easily have a heat gain of over 100 degrees F.

That's a no brainer right?  Well, yes it is, and Physicist, Nobel Laureate, and U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, is in complete agreement.  Please take two minutes to view Dr. Chu's video on the topic.

Pretty simple, right?  Well the problem is that only a miniscule number of government agencies care one bit about this.  Roofing is probably the most boring topic on earth, and I know it.  But, for goodness sakes, let's use a small measure of common sense here.

I can only imagine the amount of money Wal Mart spends on energy each year, but the decision on synthetic white reflective roof saves an average of 20% in energy costs.  The only difference between Wal Mart, and your government, is that Wal Mart has to pay this money out of their own pocket, and government does not.

All I hear is "we need to save energy" 24 hours a day, yet the government will not participate.  Let us try an example:  I had an energy model done (Courtesy: Carlisle Syntec) on a 200,000 sq. ft. school, which is an average sized high school.

The purpose of the energy model was to compare "side by side" white granular modified bitumen roofing to TPO synthetic.  Both roofs were over R=19 insulation, and the warranty term was 30 years.

Amazingly, the white TPO roof:
Saved $455,000.00 in energy costs over the term of the warranty.
Saved 77,000 lbs. carbon.

My friends, that's ONE school.  Soon, I will actually do an up front installed cost comparison, but I know for sure the petroleum system will be far more expensive.  So, you've got a petroleum roof, costs more to install, and creates 20% more energy demand.  I have not met one person to date who can defend this position.

So far, I've only used schools as an example, but when you get into all government portfolios, the numbers easily climb into the billions of dollars.  AND, YOU'RE PAYING MORE FOR A PETROLEUM ROOF!!  I find this almost staggering, and you will not believe the great difficulty I have convincing government this is "Low Hanging Fruit".

I had a three hour discussion with a Professor of Advanced Electrical Engineering, at a major university.  The blinds were open, and the view was over a white petroleum modified bitumen roof.  He said, "well, we don't have that problem because our roofs are white".  First of all, the Dr. was very kind to spend so much time with me, and the visit was very informative, and to me, rewarding.

But, my point is that people of very advanced education, do not consider simpl;e physics, and most importantly "Radiant Absorption".  The roof remains hot well into the evening, and creates "Heat Islands", of which there is no excuse.  You LEED AP's can read page 95 V2.2, and understand the importance, and simplicity.

Wal Mart is passing on the savings to you, where the government is in your other pocket spending it.  The DOE has spent over 400 Billion taxpayer dollars, and you would think we'd have this very simple topic as common knowledge.  It's not me folks, it's the Secretary of Energy telling you the same thing.

The three images above are from Tampa Museum of Art.  This was my last project prior to retirement, but it's a beauty.  Sitting downtown, directly on the Hillsborough River, and across the river from the University of Tampa.  The roof was toured by every governmental leader imaginable, and I open my newspaper to read that nothing about it is "Green".  I immediately made an appointment with the City Council member who said it, and we got that cleared up.  If not for the vicious fight to switch from a petroleum roof to the white synthetic, she may have been right.  At any rate, I am proud to know the energy consumption was greatly reduced by this roof system.  It's the "little victories" right?

I know how tough times are, but if you have a spare nickle I know will be well spent, please click on the "Sustainable Florida" logo at the upper left, and share if you can.  I've been associated with them for four years now, and can attest to their frugality, and purpose.  Mr. Tim Center will be your contact person there.

The next few months will bring great adventure to me in the form of intriguing challenges.  I welcome them with great enthusiasm, and will try to share the details with you here.

It is with great humility I accept your time with me here, and I am so very thankful.  Reject negativity in all forms, and always remember to keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Getting it Straight "Up Front"

First:  The answer to the poll qauestion was 1,000 lbs.  OSHA requires a ladder's rating to be 400% more than the actual rating.

"Getting it Straight "Up Front" :

I cannot tell you how many times I see two entities preparing to do business with each other, and simply "assume" the project will be smooth as silk.  Nothing can be more erroneous, or in my mind, foolish than not addressing every phase of the project "BEFORE" you accept the contract, and certainly "BEFORE" you start.

Why is that Ron?  Well, it's "Perceived Fear", lack of confidence, and negotiating from weakness.  You WANT to tell them that tearing off their roof, and replacing it with a new one will be just like a trip to Disney.  But, that is not going to actually happen.  From experience, I can tell you that describing this very invasive process is appreciated by the owner.  They don't need to hear a "Shuck and Jive" show, but to be told exactly what to expect.

I've shown you how to write a roofing proposal, with date, scope of work, and terms.  Now the client accepts your very nice proposal, and wants to enter into a contract.  Great, everyone's happy so far.  You may have heard me discuss that "Disqualifying" a client, is just as important as "Qualifying" a client.  Shockingly, contractors get so lightheaded from simply getting a job, that no effort is placed into vetting the firm that will owe you a lot of money. 

Please believe that if you enter into a contract with me, I will know everything there is to know about you, your company, your license, insurance, and reputation.  I owe you a properly installed roof system, and you owe me money.  It would be nice if you like me, and vice versa, but we're not really in the "Friendship Ring" business are we?

It is VERY IMPORTANT you get the truth right out in the open, so when the roof leaks (and it will), or someone runs over a nail, and gets a flat tire (and they will), we're both prepared for it.  You would be amazed how people view you, when you act like you've done this before.  But invariably, I see a salesman (I rarely use that word because it's very negative) smiling, laughing, and full of joy over simply closing a "sale".

That happiness lasts approximately 3 minutes, until your estimator says he forgot 800' of coping, or half scaled it.  Or because the salesman was too afraid to share all data with everyone involved.  There are many reasons for this, and I don't want to lean on any one person, other than to say, you must do these descriptions "UP FRONT".

I watched a client sit in amusement as I told him the roofing project would not be like getting two Christmas' this year, but that it is a very invasive procedure, and I know it.  I told him that when driving over, I saw a Tire Kingdom two blocks away for the 4 flat tires I would have to fix.  A car detailing business for any cars that needed to be detailed, and I GUARANTEED him the roof would leak over his desk.

Folks, you're dealing with adults that own buildings.  Do you think they are so "sheltered" not to know mishaps (minor, or major) happen?  Their phone rings all day with problems, and we're going to do our bloody best to make that stop.  Certainly as it pertains to roofing, but you cannot ask, nor expect, perfection from your crew, or staff.

In this way, the client knows you're alert, ready, and we can proceed.

So let's stop with all the "Well, I thought you said", or "Nobody told me about that", that's what emails are for, and always ask them to acknowledge receipt of your message.  Now, you've got a record, and a time stamp.  But, that doesn't mean you have permission to proceed, until you've received an approved change order.  I will tell you in advance, that if your anxiety gets the better of you, you will not get paid.

People who work out of their left pocket fail.  Those with a program, sequence, and uniformity succeed.  So stick to your program, and get all the problems at least "addressed" before taking another step forward.  For those of you who doubt what I'm telling you, please think of me the next time you do additional work without a change order, and do not get paid.

Again, a 250 lb. rated ladder must be able to support 1,000 lbs.

Thank you to the very kind gentleman from the UK who related to the Greek lesson.  I am always happy to know that you take time to share with me, and I am thankful for the opportunity.

Interestingly enough, I will be writing a post here regarding (of all things) sharks, and how they may affect roofing materials in the near future.  Don't panic, it's about replicating a design feature of the animal that performs a very specific task.

Reject negativity in all forms, and always remember to keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

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