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

Friday, December 28, 2012



Compilation and Comments by: Robert R. Solomon
(December 11, 2012)
Robert R. "Facts About Roofing Materi               als & The
Environmental (and fiscal) aspects of synthetic white roofing membrane, worker safety, harmful elements of petroleum based roofing, clean water, energy, and taxpayer VALUE. 
This paper is primarily intended for energy/water professionals and other environmental stewards.  The purpose of this presentation is to provide simple physics, scientific evidence, public record, published specifications, as well as illustrate “The Reality of Green Roofing”, and the copious amounts of oil being wasted on archaic and dangerous designs.
We will also touch upon “Public Procurement” methods.  It is absolutely CRITICAL that all Public Servants, FM Directors, Architects, Consultants, read this very important subject of how to provide inclusive and fair bidding for public money.  Private owners are free to do anything they wish with their own money. 
Personal Bio:
State certified roofing contractor CCC1325620 (37 years, retired in 2003), licensed consultant, and conservative environmentalist.  I’ve successfully completed hundreds of public and private projects.  Over the last eight years have participated in the Governor sponsored “Sustainable Florida” and “Sustainable Schools” initiatives as a judge.  “Responsible Conservation” is my theme, with a primary focus on the interface between roof system material, energy reduction, and clean water at a value to taxpayers. I offer my philosophy and research without prejudice.  Comments or observations throughout this presentation are borne by me alone. I am in hopes that I will clearly define my comments from those whom I give full credit and acknowledgement throughout.  Virtually all data is based upon scientific principle, public documents, and state laws. Placing value in your consideration, let us proceed with my observations and end with your conclusions.

Training:  Mr. Charlie Raymond, President NRCA, Mr. Joseph Rutkoski, President FRSA, and Mr. Robert W. Lyons, first and only two time President of RCI.

Clearly understanding the most important role of a roofing contractor is to install systems they are familiar with.  They are tasked with training, equipment, safety, and well being of those they employ and subsequently nourish.  I respect their commitment and cannot reasonably expect them to stand up for ideals, when they have mouths to feed.  I will attempt to do that for them here. 


ALL roof systems repel water by their respective design processes.  That is a given.  The purpose of this document is to illustrate how they may also be “Multidimensional” in affording great benefit to occupants of the structure.

Let’s begin with what I refer to as “Paving the Top of a Building” by evaluating the most common, inefficient, of all roofing materials: 


Let us begin with some statistics regarding “Asphaltic Petroleum Roofing Products”.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) is the largest petroleum based roofing organization in the United States, and this is their vision:  http://www.asphaltroofing.org/


 History of Asphalt Roofing

Since its discovery more than 5,000 years ago, asphalt has proved to be one of nature's most useful – and abundant – materials.
“Though you may never have considered it, asphalt (a petroleum byproduct), is a naturally occurring part of the environment. (And now thanks to advances in technology, asphalt roofing products are as friendly to the environment as they are to the buildings they protect.)”
No stranger to the building industry itself, asphalt has been used successfully as an excellent natural preservative, as well as an outstanding waterproofing and adhesive agent for centuries. For the past 150 years, in fact, asphalt has proved the most popular roofing material in North America. And deservedly so!
ARMA states:

How many homes are topped by asphalt shingles? Why?

“Asphalt shingles are the leading choice for residential roofing in the United States because they provide quality, durability, versatility and economy. Over 12.5 billion square feet of asphalt shingle products are manufactured annually – enough to cover more than 5 million homes every year. Four out of five homes are roofed with asphalt shingles.
Asphalt shingles offer consumers the broadest array of colors, shapes, and textures available. With an enormous range of styles, asphalt shingles can match almost every type of architectural design and achieve virtually any desired effect – and do it affordably”.

May I point out, not one square inch of the 12.5 BILLION sq. ft. produced annually, will ever break down in landfills.  I find it rather troubling that ARMA describes asphalt as “friendly to the environment.  It isn’t.

That 12.5 Billion sq. ft. each year, also translates to 11 Million Tons destined to our landfills.

Uses of petroleum asphalt:
Road construction
The largest use of petroleum asphalt is for making asphaltic concrete for road construction and accounts for approximately 80% of the petroleum asphalt consumed in the United States.
Roofing shingles
Roofing shingles account for most of the remaining 20% of asphalt consumption in the United States. Most of the petroleum asphalt used in manufacturing shingles is air-blown asphalt.
It is very important to learn the word, and definition of:  “Bitumen”.  Bitumen is synonymous with “Tar Sands”.

What Are Tar Sands?

Tar sands (also referred to as oil sands) are a combination of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, a heavy black viscous oil. 

Tar sands can be mined and processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. The bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state; instead tar sand deposits are mined, usually using strip mining or open pit techniques, or the oil is extracted by underground heating with additional upgrading.

Many are misled into thinking the Keystone Pipeline project with Canada is to pump oil.  Only a fraction of oil is extracted, with the rest going to low grade petroleum applications. 
A great deal of energy is consumed in either “strip mining”, or “steam injection” methods necessary to recover the “Tar Sands”, “Residuum”, or “Bitumen”.

Tar sands are mined and processed to generate oil similar to oil pumped from conventional oil wells, but extracting oil from tar sands is more complex than conventional oil recovery. Oil sands recovery processes include extraction and separation systems to separate the bitumen from the clay, sand, and water that make up the tar sands. Bitumen also requires additional upgrading before it can be refined. Because it is so viscous (thick), it also requires dilution with lighter hydrocarbons to make it transportable by pipelines.

Below, you will see the proportionate distribution in terms of refinery.  The portion at the very bottom is called “Residuum”, and that is the material used in asphalt shingles.

About two tons of tar sands are required to produce one barrel of oil. Roughly 75% of the bitumen can be recovered from sand. After oil extraction, the spent sand and other materials are then returned to the mine, which is eventually reclaimed.

Both mining and processing of tar sands involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land; impacts on wildlife and air and water quality. 

The development of a commercial tar sands industry in the U.S. would also have significant social and economic impacts on local communities. 

Of special concern in the relatively arid western United States is the large amount of water required for tar sands processing; currently, tar sands extraction and processing require several barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, though some of the water can be recycled.
So, now we know a bit more about the materials used to make common asphalt roofing products, you may determine if ARMA’s statement: “Friendly to the environment” is valid.

Tar Sands Resources:

Much of the world's oil (more than 2 trillion barrels) is in the form of tar sands, although it is not all recoverable. While tar sands are found in many places worldwide, the largest deposits in the world are found in Canada (Alberta) and Venezuela, and much of the rest is found in various countries in the Middle East. In the United States, tar sands resources are primarily concentrated in Eastern Utah, mostly on public lands. The in-place tar sands oil resources in Utah are estimated at 12 to 19 billion barrels.

Later, we will discuss the use of a roofing system commonly referred to as “Modified Bitumen”.  Since I’m on “source” materials, and definitions, we will learn about the word “Bitumen”.


noun \bə-ˈtyü-mən, bī-, -ˈtü-, especially British also ˈbit-yə-\

Definition of BITUMEN

1: an asphalt of Asia Minor used in ancient times as a cement and mortar
2: any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that occur naturally or are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (as petroleum); specifically : such a mixture soluble in carbon disulfide.
Bitumen/asphalt is a naturally occurring, highly flammable substance found in the Dead Sea area. In fact, Josephus refers to the Dead Sea as Lake Asphaltites. It is of interest to note that Josephus writes that the Lake Asphaltites was formed as a result of the devastation that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
Please do follow along, as we will soon make a point.

Biblical references may include:

According to the book of Genesis:
Genesis 6:14   14 "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall 1cover it inside and out with pitch.
The ark was painted inside and outside with pitch (tar), symbolizing renunciation (the exterior paint) and purity (the interior paint); by them, man is preserved by the Holy Spirit to glorify God.
And the book of Exodus:  Moses
Exodus 2:3   
But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.
We no longer live in Biblical times and have made great technological advancements since “tar” or “pitch” which is my point.

“PAVING your Roof”

A “Petroleum Based Roof” (shingles, modified bitumen) acts as a convection oven “Absorbing” the sun’s radiant energy instead of reflecting it.  Factually, these asphaltic systems may reach 200 degrees F. in hotter climates.  It is not unusual to experience a roof surface temperature increase of 90 degrees F. and beyond.
Why is this important?  It is important because it brings us to realize the phenomena: “Heat Island Effect”.
Recently, I had the great honor of speaking with Dr. Art Rosenfeld, former Director of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratories.

Dr. Rosenfeld has written a voluminous amount of study material illustrating the principle of “Reflectance” vs. “Radiant Absorption” far more than space allows here.  Please do read about him.  You will find his work as fascinating as I have.

Dr. Rosenfeld:

Regarding “White SYNTHETIC roof membranes”, Dr. Rosenfeld says:

“It keeps the city cooler, the Earth cooler and it saves energy,” Rosenfeld said, noting that roofs account for about a quarter of all surfaces in urban areas.

(Photo courtesy of Wal Mart)

Let us not complicate the simple principle of “Radiant Absorption” Vs. “Reflectivity”.  The Greeks have known this principle for many centuries:
Cool Surfaces.
We know that lighter colors keep us cool, since they reflect heat, while darker colors tend to keep us warmer, and so we wear lighter colored clothes in the summer than in the winter. Traditional cultures have exploited this phenomenon – think of the white-washed villages of the Greek islands, where every part of the village, from the walls, to the roofs, to the streets, are painted uniformly white to reflect the scorching rays of the summer sun.

The following statement is absolutely critical, and is the number ONE obstacle I face in getting this message out.  It’s when people see a white granular roof, they believe it is reflecting solar radiation, and that perception is 100% FALSE.  To substantiate this claim:
“The mineral particles typically used for making roofing granules, such as talc, slag, limestone, granite, syenite, diabase, greystone, slate, trap rock, basalt, greenstone, andesite, porphyry, rhyolite, and greystone, generally have low solar heat reflectance, that is, low reflectance of near infrared radiation. Further, the pigments employed for coloring roofing granules have usually been selected to provide shingles having an attractive appearance, with little thought to the thermal stresses encountered on shingled roofs. As a result, the colored roofing granules themselves typically have low solar heat reflectance”.

Read more:


Are we clear on this?  Perhaps another illustration will put us over the top:

“The low solar reflectance can be attributed to several factors. First, there is a limited amount of pigment in the granule coating. Also, the roughness of the shingle contributes to multiple scattering of light and thus to increased absorption. Finally, the black asphalt substrate is not 100% covered, and reflects only about 5% of the light which strikes it”.

This is probably the only thing you need to actually remember:  Petroleum based (shingles, modified bitumen, built up) roofs get HOT.  White synthetics DO NOT GET HOT.
Absorption of Radiant Energy:
“Radiant energy that strikes a substance can be absorbed, transmitted, or reflected. The radiant energy that is absorbed by a substance is converted into heat or some other form of energy. The amount of energy absorbed depends on the physical nature of the substance and the character of the radiant energy. A mirror reflects most of the light that shines on it, while most of the light that strikes a non tinted glass window is transmitted through the window. Charcoal and soot, on the other hand, absorb virtually all light that strikes them.
The earth's atmosphere absorbs part of the energy radiated by the sun and thus prevents this energy from reaching the earth's surface. If this atmospheric absorption did not occur, life probably could not exist on earth. This is because the atmosphere absorbs ultraviolet rays, some of which are known to be lethal to both animals and plants. Light from distant stars is absorbed both by the atmosphere and by interstellar gas and dust”.
The color of an object that is not self-luminous is determined by the wavelengths of light that the object absorbs, transmits, and reflects.

White synthetic roof system SAVINGS vs. PV efficiency:
Solar collection devices are very intriguing, promising, and I believe the future of great energy independence.
At the moment, it is very inefficient, and costly, prohibiting widespread use.  I also believe when solar collection is commercially available at a reasonable price point (that is, without government subsidy), further research will skyrocket.  The private market and competition will (in my opinion) improve materials, efficiency ratings, and drastically lower costs.

FIRST, we must educate everyone regarding the “Truth” behind roofing systems, and materials.  Let us simply SAVE energy by reflecting radiant energy, and utilizing a principle that costs NO MONEY!
Am I getting the “Reflect Radiant Energy” point across yet?  There will still be a few charts and graphs left, but hopefully we will be 100% clear on this by documents end.
The “White” pigment contained in this system is Titanium Dioxide, and 1 of the top 50 materials produced worldwide.  I will discuss the fire retardant aspect later under “Clean Water”, as it is non toxic.

LEED AP’s and Builders:
White Synthetic Roofs are “GREEN”, and drastically reduce “Heat Island Effect"

 I’m going to go “Real World” on you for a moment, and illustrate the “Bottom Line” from an Owner’s perspective.
The “Private Owner” is far different from the “Public Owner”, as he, or she, is the one actually paying the energy bill with their money, not yours.  The statement by this owner is general, but on average15%-20% SAVED.  He shows how important it is to integrate roofing, HVAC, windows, paint, etc.
I will illustrate what that would mean to a “Public” structure, or perhaps a School District.  My School District pays an average of $40,000,000.00 per year in energy costs.  Imagine for a moment how 20% of that money SAVED ($8,000.000.00) could be better spent.

Next, you will see the Owner’s statement, and a very revealing energy model pertaining to schools using petroleum systems.


This note is from the OWNER on a Firestone .060, over R20 Iso, and  20 year NDL warranty.

Brandon has almost twice as much conditioned space as Tampa (64,229 sq. ft. vs 33,005 sq. ft., respectively) yet from the period of April through July of this year Brandon used 40% less electricity than Tampa; for a savings of $30,367 for the period.  I realize your TPO roof should get most of the credit but we should also consider the "cool-wall" paint on the exterior and the newer/more efficient equipment.  Thanks again for pushing the TPO roof.


By using a synthetic system, we also saved 36,500 gals. of  petroleum. 

At this same time, by comparison, the Mayor of my city (Tampa, Florida) made front page news by saving 323 gallons in a 1 year period with her Toyota Camry Hybrid. 

Please review the following energy model comparing a white granular modified bitumen roof system to a white TPO.  The term of the roof warranty and model are a 30 year period, with modeling graciously provided by Carlisle Syntec.

RoofSense Life Cycle Savings Report

Project: Asphalt Built-up VS TPO
Scenario: TPO Savings
Heating and Cooling Data:
The heating and cooling load is referred to as the cost to heat and cool the facility. Following are the details of the buildings system efficiency, fuel type and associated cost used in the energy load calculation.
Cooling Data
Fuel Type: Electricity
System Efficiency: 8 S.E.E.R or E.E.R
Fuel Cost: $0.11 /Kwh
Fuel Inflation Rate: 5.68% per yr
Heating Data

Fuel Type: Electricity
System Efficiency: 65%
Fuel Cost: $0.11 /1000 CF
Fuel Inflation Rate: 5.68% per yr

Baseline Roof A:
Asphalt Built up

Roof Surface Type:
Off-White, Coated or Gravel

Existing Assembly Insulation R: 0
Insulation R to be Added: 20.5
Layer 1: 3.3 inches of Polyiso
Layer 2: n/a

Total Insulation R:  20.5
Proposed Roof B:
White TPO

Roof Surface Type:
TPO White

Existing Assembly Insulation R: 0
Insulation R to be Added: 20.5
Layer 1: 3.3 inches of Polyiso
Layer 2:  n/a

Total Insulation R:  20.5


Energy Cost Summary
Estimated Energy Cost:
The energy model within RoofSense compares the estimated energy cost of two roof systems over the term of analysis. Fuel cost and inflation, interior temperature, climate, roof surface type and color, and the amount of insulation utilized are included in the energy cost formulas. The following are estimated energy costs.

Baseline Roof A:
Asphalt Built up C1

Estimated Energy Cost:

Proposed Roof B:
White TPO

Estimated Energy Cost:
Cooling: $1,489,949.92

Cooling: $1,033,798.12
Heating: $612,110.95

Heating: $612,110.95


Energy Cost Reduction:  $456,151.80  ( 21.70% )

Environmental Emissions:

Environmental Emissions:
CO2 Carbon Dioxide
355377.8 LBS

CO2 Carbon Dioxide
278260.04 LBS
CH4 Methane
4.6 LBS

CH4 Methane
3.6 LBS
N2O Nitrous Oxide
3.84 LBS

N2O Nitrous Oxide

Carbon Reduction:  77117.76 LBS  ( 21.70% )

Energy Savings Notes:
The RoofSense energy savings model is based on the LC4 Life Cycle cost analysis tool developed by Pat Downey of Merik Professional Roofing Services in the late 1990’s.  The LC4 energy calculations and formulas are taken from the “1989 ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook”.  Also used was the “Guide for Estimating Difference in Building Heating and Cooling Energy due to Change in Solar Reflectance of a Low-Slopped Roof”, Oak Ridge National Laboratory publication ORNL-6527 and the “NRCA Energy Manual” third edition, National Roofing Contractors Association, Chicago, IL. Adjustments to the formula and reflectance have been made as a result of a benchmarking study completed using Carrier’s “Hourly Analysis Program” (HAP) and ASHRAE’s standards on building simulation. Carrier’s HAP is approved by the government for studies done for the Tax Policy Act of 2005. Historic energy cost data, when used, has been obtained from the Energy Information Agency (EIA)

RESULT: 77,000 lbs. in carbon reduction, and $456,000.00 in energy savings over the term of roof warranty.  I found this extraordinary, because the client was getting more than a singular dimension roof system.  Up front, and life cycle cost are outstanding.  This was a side by side energy model comparing white granular modified bitumen to white synthetic membrane.  Conditions and insulation were identical.

Wal-Mart is the largest private consumer of energy in North America, and they use it exclusively on all their stores, regardless of location.

 White roof and skylights on Las Vegas, Nev. Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart’s white roofs help reduce energy use and have a lower heat island effect than a darker roofing color. The skylights are part of the company’s daylight harvesting system, which can save an average of 800,000 kwh of energy annually.
2009July30: In order to improve energy efficiency, Wal-Mart stores built since 1999 in the US have white roofs. Dark roofs absorb as much as 90% of the sun’s heat, while a white roof can deflect approximately 85% to 90% of the sun’s heat (New York Times, 2009).

Prologis is the leading owner, operator and developer of industrial real estate, focused on global and regional markets across the Americas, Europe and Asia


High-reflectance roof membranes – Traditionally, warehouses have black EPDM rubber roofing membranes, which absorb heat from sunlight. White thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing offers the same performance at essentially the same cost while reducing urban heat island effect and often providing a more comfortable work environment.
I won’t continue driving this point with Target, Staples, etc., as you can see both the sustainability effort, and savings are staggering in scope.

 At this point, I think we’re clear on the energy savings, and value, but I will leave you once again with Dr. Art Rosenfeld:

"White roofs can cut a building's energy use by 20 percent and save consumers money," says California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld. "The potential energy savings in the U.S. is in excess of $1 billion annually. Additionally, by conserving electricity we are emitting less CO2 from power plants," Rosenfeld added.

Together with Rosenfeld, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists Hashem Akbari and Surabi Menon have quantified the effects of white roofs in populated settings in terms of how much carbon dioxide they offset.

Replacing non-reflective, dark roofing materials with white ones on an average house with 1,000 square feet of roof would result in an equivalent CO2 offset of 10 metric tons annually, the scientists estimate.

With an offset value of $25 per metric ton, that could be worth $250, according to European CO2 markets.
Their study is to be published in the scientific journal "Climatic Change."

In reality, I don’t expect many people to care about something they cannot see, but I do care about bringing the facts to you as a roofing professional and concerned citizen.  Now would be a good time to tell you I do not work for anyone, sell anything, buy anything, or promote specific manufacturers.

The topic of “Global Warming” is conspicuously absent in this writing.  

I am not a scientist, nor do I possess the credential necessary to address root mean cause.  But I am a roofer, and will confine the topic to only include things I know by way of research.  

The argument is actually not relevant regarding this subject matter, as I am discussing known, measurable values, and not speculation regarding man’s activity, or the earth’s cyclic warming/cooling patterns. 

This is common sense based upon a common scientific principle.
Reflecting the sun’s radiant energy away from a building is, to me, non-debatable.  If it’s not based upon science, or public record, you will not find it here.  I will leave the trafficking of opinions to others, as I must be able to prove what I say.

Water is always associated with fire, so let us address fire retardant additives to Thermoplastic Polyolefin.

Magnesium carbonate, MgCO3, is a white solid that occurs in nature as a mineral. Several hydrated and basic forms of magnesium carbonate also exist as minerals. In addition, MgCO3 has a variety of uses.
MgCO3 is also used in flooring, fireproofing, fire extinguishing compositions, cosmetics, dusting powder, and toothpaste. Other applications are as filler material, smoke suppressant in plastics, a reinforcing agent in neoprene rubber, a drying agent, a laxative to loosen the bowels, and color retention in foods. In addition, high purity magnesium carbonate is used as antacid and as an additive in table salt to keep it free flowing.

MANY people worldwide depend upon their roofs as the only source of fresh water catchment.  A 1,000 sq. ft. roof will produce 600 gallons of fresh water in 1” downfall. 
NO ROOF IS IMMUNE TO JET FUEL EXHAUST, OR AIRBORNE FUNGAL SPORES.  In some areas, there is a vermin problem as well, but we can hope to REDUCE contamination.  Single ply roofs clean easily with “Simple Green”, a garden hose, and push broom.
Roof systems that are favorable to water collection are prefinished metal roofs, clay and concrete tiles, and white synthetic TPO.
Many people ask me if asphalt shingle (petroleum) roofs are suitable for water collection.  I do not feel qualified to provide a definitive answer on this.  Instead, I will share published comments by the world’s largest manufacturer of asphalt shingles, GAF.
Before we see comments, graciously, and honestly provided by GAF, I have a comment.  GAF is one of the most honorable, and reliable manufacturers of residential, and commercial roof systems on the planet.  This is why I choose them as the reference standard on this topic.
You may wish to visit them:  http://www.gaf.com/
The following literature should be considered the industry standard, and I admire them for having the courage to publish it honestly.
Most blame lawn fertilizer, and livestock for the bulk of storm water contamination.  Factually, a great deal of contamination is in the form of phosphorous, and nitrogen, leaching from petroleum roofs.  Of course this starves our water bodies of oxygen, and subsequently inhibits microbial growth.  This sequence prevails itself upward in the food chain, and it’s something we should think about.  It does not have to be this way if we simply “STOP Paving Our Roofs”.
Again, thank you to GAF, an Honorable Manufacturer with excellent roofing products:

Reclaimed Water from an Asphalt Shingle Roof

Can I Reclaim Water (Collect Water For Use) Run-off From My Roof?

Yes… But you should only use this water for lawn, shrubbery, and flower irrigation since
water run-off from asphalt shingles is not FDA approved for potable water reclamation
or agricultural use.

What this means…is that because it is not FDA approved, the reclaimed water is not
suitable for:

watering of fruits or vegetables for human consumption

What Should I Know?

Water reclaimed from a shingle roof… may present a variety of hazards that may affect
you or your animal’s health.  While the water may seem “clean”, consider:

Asphalt is processed from crude oil and there are chemicals in asphalt that can be
hazardous to your health if consumed.

The granule surface can collect dirt and other air pollutants which vary by
location… water running over these granules can collect the dirt and pollutants as it runs
off the roof.

Under the correct conditions, algae, mold, moss, and mildew can grow on the
shingle surface. These fungi may be harmful to people and animals when introduced into
a drinking water supply.

Shingles may contain copper oxide, or other algae inhibitors that may harm
aquatic life
Where Can I Get More Information?

GAF-Elk Technical Services can assist you… with these and other questions you may
have regarding your new roof installation. GAF-Elk Technical Services can be contacted:

800-ROOF-411 (800-766-3411). Also, the GAF-Elk website is a great resource for just about any question you may have, or for additional information you may require.
That site is at: www.gaf.com

Hopefully, that will bring the topic into focus, as the definitive authority (GAF) has spoken.  Now imagine asphalt roofing for the millions whose lives depend upon rain water catchment from their roof alone.

An excellent discussion regarding conservation of fresh water is brought to us by the good people at National Geographic:

Less than 1 percent of Earth's water is drinkable. In America, water is relatively plentiful, and a typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every single day. Tap water has to be processed, which takes energy and costs money. The more water that is used, the more it costs environmentally and financially”.

Collecting water from petroleum based roofs is not unlike collecting water from an asphalt paved road.  Those little “rainbows” we see in puddles after the rainstorm are not our friends.

The Chief Geologist of an International Civil Engineering Firm told me that so much bacteria is “washed out” in a rainstorm that children should not be allowed to play outside until 2 hours afterward.

Perhaps if we consider fresh water our most valuable commodity, we will make informed decisions regarding its preservation.

In addition to sharing the environmental impact petroleum based roofing has, I am also trying to offer value laden options to it.  So far, we’ve talked about huge energy savings, and clean water.
The number one cause of all roofing injury claims is “Soft Tissue Damage”.  This is not surprising, as they are routinely lifting over 250 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. of asphalt shingles, or lifting 100 lb. rolls of modified bitumen, and 100 lb. cartons of asphalt all day.  We amplify an EXTREME environment for them by introducing 450 degree F. molten asphalt to the equation.  Or, propane torches in the case of modified bitumen.

In a DOE video, Dr. Steven Chu says:

Why the industry urgency to move toward the use of materials such as TPO? Because white roof membranes help reduce both energy requirements and costs for cooling - a reason that sits well with building owners as well. And according to Patrick Downey, CSI, RRC, president of Atlanta's Merik Inc., a roof consulting firm that specializes in energy efficiency, "White and light roof studies throughout the Sunbelt have demonstrated that the savings in hot/warm weather cooling costs more than offset the slight increase in cold/cool weather heating costs."
In contrast, the dark, heat-absorbing roofing of days gone by is associated with a condition known as the "urban heat island" effect and is also linked with hazardous ozone levels. Both of these conditions, coupled with a reduction in natural shading, contribute to a considerable increase in metropolitan area temperatures and, hence, higher energy bills.
To facilitate the move toward mandating white roofing, components of regulations such as the ASHRAE 90.1 Energy Efficient Standards indicate that  

white roof membranes can now be used in place of additional 

insulation to reduce cooling energy consumption in some instances. 

Similarly, in the state of Georgia, precedent-setting white roofing legislation known as the Georgia White Roof Amendment was passed to enforce the same standards. On a national scale, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency are now funding efforts to encourage the use of white roofing.
While the white TPO material can help save on building cooling costs, this benefit is just one of the many environmentally sound attributes of the single-ply roofing membrane. From initial raw materials manufacturing to disposal at the end of the system's useful life, TPO offers product features that pose less of an adverse impact on the general environment than other popular single-ply roofing materials.

Following is a quick look at why TPO is an environmentally sound,

front-row leader in the move toward white and light-colored

* TPO's raw materials are created in sealed reactors without production of hazardous by-products.
* TPO's manufacturing process ensures that scraps or reject materials are immediately recycled into the product stream.
* TPO is hot-air welded; therefore, no smoke or strong fumes are produced during application.
* Unlike PVC, TPO contains no migratory plasticizers that leak 

into the air and/or storm-water runoff.
In addition to its environmental desirability, TPO provides the weather ability of an EPDM and the superior seam strength of PVC - translating into savings in maintenance and repair. The result: more green all the way around.
Explanations are courtesy of the National Roofing Contractors Association and Duro-Last Roofing Inc., Saginaw, Mich.

Metal Roof systems:

Metal roof systems (along with clay tile) are probably the most aesthetically pleasing of all roof systems.  They come in a variety of base materials (copper, steel or aluminum), and have an outrageous range in terms of color palette selections.
There are just too many styles and applications for me to properly address here, but we’ll take a look at some beautiful examples.

The “Life Cycle Cost” is superior to any brand, make, or series of asphalt shingles.  These roofs require a higher level of competency in installation, and flashing details are critical.

The “Color” you see is a bonding resin technique commonly referred to as “Kynar 500”.
It’s best if I let them describe the process here:  


For those of you involved with large commercial structures, you will be doing yourself a disservice by going “cheap” with painted galvanized flashings.  ESPECIALLY drip edges, gutter, downspouts, copings, because they WILL RUST PREMATURELY.  The Kynar 500 type coatings (available by all metal panel manufacturers as the industry standard) come with a free (typically) 20 year “Finish Warranty”. 

Fact is, the roof will almost certainly last beyond your lifetime, and it will be your last roofing adventure.
Metal roofs are recyclable, and they do not contaminate storm water. 
Many colors and pigment technologies far surpass the .29 reflection requirement of LEED.  This is critical because you (dependent upon color) will meet energy rebate requirements.
This is an excerpt from PG&E’s cool roof rebate program:


 PG&E's 2010-2012 rebate program is available for qualifying products purchased and installed between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012. Payment of rebates is not guaranteed as funds are limited, and amounts and offerings are subject to change. All rebate program terms and conditions apply.

Aged Solar Reflectance
Aged Thermal Emittance
Rebate Amt
Low Slope
(excluding CZ 13)
≥ 0.55
≥ 0.75
$0.20/sq. ft.
≥ 0.35
≥ 0.75
$0.20/sq. ft.
≥ 0.25
≥ 0.75
$0.10/sq. ft.
For a complete list of qualifying products, visit www.coolroofs.org
The roof rebate program is probably the most effective energy incentive I’ve been able to find.  This roof will continue to reduce your energy demand for many years.  The same thing is true of attic insulation, or insulation of any kind.
We want to first reflect the sun’s radiant energy at the roof surface, and whatever thermal stress that passes will be effectively blocked by a minimum “R” = 20.0.  A thermal coefficient of “R” = 30.0 is far preferred, and the cost is pretty insignificant.

In my case, the rebate included sealing of duct work, and an additional “R” = 11.0 blown fiberglass into my attic, as I already had “R” = 20.0.  My home is 2,500 sq. ft. and the total out of pocket cost was $150.00 to me.  My energy bill has been $100.00 per month LESS on a very regular basis.  So, after 6 weeks, my $150.00 had been returned to me in the form of savings.
I cannot emphasize the value of passive methods like attic insulation and reflectivity enough.  By far, the best investment you can make to your home, your wallet, and your comfort.


Definition of EMISSIVITY

: the relative power of a surface to emit heat by radiation : the ratio of the radiant energy emitted by a surface to that emitted by a blackbody at the same temperature
Rather than bludgeon you with copious data here, it is essentially the ability of something to release the energy it has absorbed.

Petroleum based roof systems absorb a great deal of energy, and retain it well into the evening.  Metals, synthetics, and most tiles do not.  Below, you qill find the most comprehensive body of work that exists on the topic.  The “Heat Island Group” at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories has no equal.

This roofing primer is general of course, and hopefully touched upon an area of interest for you. 
Since the document is also for those in public service, purchasing, and procurement, I am especially interested in law governing what we can and can’t do.  Remember, the government is not an “owner” in the traditional sense.  Taxpayers are in fact the “owners” of all public structures.

This is a niche’ field of mine, and I’ve seen countless illustrations of taxpayer funded abuse in the form of “Proprietary Specifications”, “Sole Source”, or “No Compete” arrangements with only ONE manufacturer.

I do not wish to brutalize the manufacturers and governmental bodies in any detail here, but here is my suggestion for research:

In your browser, type “School Roofing Scam”, and you may read public record, and the harsh reality of those who prey upon government, and their well worn methods.  Or, you may type the same thing into “YouTube”, and be shocked by the boldness of aggressive sales models.

These “Salesmen” get paid to sell product at all cost.  YOU must understand the law, and in no case is it acceptable to use less than three (preferably four) manufacturers as the basis of design, and acceptable to the authority.

Many imaginative, and elaborate schemes are developed into a “system” designed entirely to exclude all competition, and that is illegal.

Now that you know about “Petroleum Vs. Synthetic”, I’d like to address those of you in public service.  We may never limit competition, nor write specifications to favor only one manufacturer.  It is exclusionary, and eliminates competition for taxpayer dollars.  Not even the slightest hint of proprietary behavior may be perceived by the public, as it is both illegal, and immoral.

 Let me describe it this way:  Certain manufacturers target ONLY Public work.
It would be IMPOSSIBLE for them to survive in the private sector.  

“Proprietary Specifications” are intentionally written in such a way to EXCLUDE ALL COMPETITION. 

I will reduce this in a way all people may understand:  NO MANUFACTURER HAS IDENTICAL ASTM NUMBERS, or identical test results, through an entire spectrum. 

Example:  If I represented  FORD, and I was bidding on the procurement of 1,000 government vehicles, and the specification was written around CHEVROLET, I could not possibly match every single part of their vehicle.

But if the specification were to say:  Four cylinder, GVW, 4 door, MPG, DOT requirements, and INCLUDED acceptable manufacturers:


The entity would receive the vehicle they need, and the manufacturers have an incentive to compete.

 If not, a great opportunity for not only EXCLUSION, but COLLUSION would present itself. 

For the time being, I will leave you to ponder "Tar Sands", and why people feel the need to put petroleum on the TOP of buildings.

As usual, I will suggest you reject negativity in all forms, and always remember to keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon
Public Procurement Analyst
Director, Roof Consultant's Alliance
CCC1325620 (Florida State Certification)

Giving the facts on energy efficiency and how to help.

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