By Dr. Jim Hoff, Research Director, Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing
When the U. S. Green Building Council initiated the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building program in 2001, one of its primary objectives was to "transform the built environment."
Now, 10 years on from the introduction of LEED, the evidence for this transformation have become obvious. Ten thousand LEED buildings have been certified and over 100,000 LEED-Accredited Professionals participate in the program. As a result, it is rare to find a professional facility manager who hasn't been involved with a LEED project or with LEED-influenced construction practices.
Today, 10 years after the introduction of LEED, a similar transformation is occurring in the roofing industry. At the beginning of 2011, the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (CEIR) launched a sustainable guideline for roofing systems that seeks to transform roofing – both in practice and in public perception. This new guideline, called RoofPoint, is similar in function and structure to green building rating systems such as LEED, but it embraces important differences offering unique value to building owners and the green building community.
Similar to green building rating systems, RoofPoint functions as a criterion-based assessment system for sustainable roofs, featuring broad categories of environmental impact with specific strategies to reduce environmental impact within each category. These credits are assessed against specific measurable goals, and the summation of this assessment is expressed as a total point score. Roofing projects meeting a minimum score overall as well in each major category are then recognized to embody the key principles of sustainable roofing.
Although the basic structure of RoofPoint is similar to existing whole-building green rating systems, there are several important differences. Obviously the most important distinction is that RoofPoint focuses exclusively on roofing systems. This approach goes a long way to address roofing industry concerns about potential shortcomings of whole-building rating systems when applied to roofing projects. As an example, the current LEED program specifically addresses roofing in regard to only two characteristics: cool roof surfaces and rooftop vegetation. Although many other roofing-related characteristics are embedded within many LEED credits, they may be difficult to winnow out and apply to a roofing project. As an example, LEED contains exhaustive criteria regarding overall energy efficiency, but because these criteria depend primarily on the use of whole-building energy modeling, the criteria may be difficult and costly to apply to a typical roofing project. RoofPoint addresses this challenge by providing a series of prescriptive energy standards, including recommended minimum R-values, elimination of thermal discontinuities and installation of roof air barriers that allow roofing practitioners to effectively meet the intent of whole-building approaches without requiring complicated and expensive energy modeling.
A second and perhaps more important difference in the RoofPoint program is its emphasis on roof system performance, both initial durability and long-term life cycle management. In addition to reducing environmental impacts, truly sustainable buildings and roofs need to provide superior service life so that the full benefit of reduced environmental impact is achieved. Perhaps nothing could be worse than a sustainably-designed building to end up with a leaky roof that shortens the working life of the entire building and compromises key environmental goals. Examples of durability concepts within RoofPoint include protecting the roof from traffic, assuring positive drainage, adding critical detail enhancements and installing a vapor retarder when needed. In addition, RoofPoint credits focus on key construction processes including on-site moisture protection, project quality assurance and long-term roof maintenance.
For building owners and facility managers, the most important feature is that RoofPoint targets an important construction segment effectively ignored by whole-building green rating systems - the over 2.5 billion square feet of annual nonresidential reroofing activity. Not only are complex whole-building rating systems difficult to apply to reroofing, but the costs of certification are far too expensive to apply to the average reroofing project. As a result, many building owners are increasingly interested in the RoofPoint program.
Behind this interest in RoofPoint for reroofing projects lies another important feature. Almost every facility manager I have talked with recently confirms that before any reroofing contract is awarded, the facility manager is asked by upper management, "Are we doing the right thing?" in regard to sustainable construction. That's why roofing professionals across North America are constantly being asked by facility managers, "Is this a sustainable roof?" With the RoofPoint program, facility managers can now answer this question with a program that provides tangible evidence that the roofing system meets well-defined sustainability criteria - and this achievement can be documented and recognized in much the same way that LEED and similar programs address this need for entire buildings. In addition to targeting reroofing and validating sustainable roofing practice, RoofPoint delivers several other benefits to building owners. Because RoofPoint embraces every major type of nonresidential roofing in a non-proprietary manner, the program supports building owner demand for choice in selecting roofing systems. And compared to whole-building rating systems such as LEED, RoofPoint is a simple and affordable program that can be easily integrated into almost any roofing project with minimal expense. Finally, large building owners whose organizations have embraced Total Quality Management systems such as ISO 9000 will appreciate RoofPoint's process-based approach to roof system sustainability.
To better understand the value this program can bring to your roofing inventory, please go to the RoofPoint website (www.RoofPoint.org) and visit the Project Profiles page. There you will see a wide variety of roofing projects. I think you’ll also see that, while some of these installations are more complex than the average project, the great majority of these roofs are no different than what you demand for your own facilities– roofs that save energy, conserve resources and provide long-lasting value. And as you see how your roofing assets can easily fit into the RoofPoint database, I encourage you to join the RoofPoint team and help build the professionalism of your organization and the entire industry. All it takes to get started is to download the evaluation form and see how it works for outstanding roofing projects you have specified and managed in the past year. And if you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact CEIR.
Dr. Jim Hoff (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Research Director for the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and president of TEGNOS Research, Inc., a research organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the building envelope. Dr. Hoff also serves as a board member of the Roof Consultants Institute Foundation and the Cool Roof Rating Council.