It might seem to the average person that the commercial roofing industry has not changed significantly over the last few years, but with the continued focus on green products and environmental impact, the roofing and construction industries have undergone many changes. One very important change is the ASTM C1289-13e1 standard for insulation testing that went into effect on January 1, 2014 providing new testing methods for the determination and calculation of Long-Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) values for Polyiso roofing products.
Polyiso is a very popular roofing insulating product used in a large number of roofing systems. Recent changes of the LTTR values are based on consensus standards in the United States and Canada using a scientifically supported method to calculate the 15-year, time-weighted average R-value of roof insulation. What this means in plain English is that the insulation R-Value now has a standard, and that standard increases the amount of insulation across the board.
There are many manufacturers of Polyiso and all are required to comply with this new test standard, which is a major departure from the past, where every manufacturer had their own specifications. Those who are members of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) have adopted the LTTR method as the exclusive means to measure thermal performance of permeable-faced Polyiso roof insulation and voluntarily submit to testing. The others are expected to comply regardless.
So what does this mean for commercial roofing and building projects in 2014?
“Not only did the R-Value change level the playing field with regard to how manufacturers sell their products, but it also has a significant cost impact,” said Keith Post, KPOST Company CEO. “In the past, the R-Values per manufacturer would vary. Now there is a standard. And that standard increases the amount of insulation required, which in turn increases the cost.”
Commercial Roofing and Construction Industry Impact
“This changes everything. We are talking about a fairly minor number, but it’s big enough to impact every bid,” said Kelly Lea, KPOST Company Vice President of Estimating. “Any job that was not permitted in 2013 must be rebid with the new R-Value standard, which could impact the budget. As an example, the changing R-Values require thicker insulation which also increases the cost of a project in other ways, such as the need to use longer fasteners.”
Polyiso is in a large number of roofing systems, as it is the most common roofing insulation unless lightweight insulating concrete is installed. The cost of lightweight insulating concrete is typically 30% less expensive than rigid Polyiso roofing system
According to KPOST Company senior estimator, Aileen Struble, R-Values are incredibly important from a budgeting and cost perspective, particularly in light of the fact that every city and county has its own building codes.
“As contractors, we are engaged in an endless learning process to be certain we are providing the correct product that meets the industry and city standards,” said Aileen. “Cities and counties can adopt building codes as they choose, and not all are up to the latest standard. It takes a lot of research to ensure the bids are in compliance with all the varying regulations and codes.”
According to Aileen, most cities and counties want to capitalize on tax advantages associated with utilizing green products to improve the environment. Therefore, they are becoming stricter about the types of construction products that can be used. Coupled with the recent R-Value change for Polyiso, the need to perform extensive research becomes paramount. Otherwise, the bid could be outdated before you even submit it.
“Roofing insulation already comprises approximately 50% of the overall cost of a roofing system. The R-Value is now at 20, but we know it will go up to 30. We’ve even heard it might increase to 42. Now the cost really starts to skyrocket,” said Keith. “We will have to research alternative coverings that are more durable and reflective in order to keep costs in check.”
How to Combat Cost Increases
Having the resources to stay on top of the industry changes makes a big difference in combating rising costs. For one, it ensures that the bid you receive contains the correct information while recommending the right product.
“KPOST provides a consultative approach to our projects, so we are educating and informing along the way,” said Aileen. “Whether it’s the owner, property manager or contractor, we ensure that individual receives the right information while also providing educational materials. In addition, we approach each project from our customer’s perspective, so they receive more than one solution.”
In addition to ensuring the information is correct, there are alternatives to consider when recommending a roofing system.
“We invested in cellular lightweight insulating concrete several years ago because we could see the value it brings to our customers,” said Keith. “In addition to getting the same R-value as other products such as Polyiso, it lets us reuse the roof deck, making it environmentally friendly. Plus, it will provide a 20% savings, ensuring a solid cost savings.”
Whether it’s new construction or a reroofing project, confirming that you have the right information is critical to keeping costs in check and maintaining a budget. Fortunately, there are options to consider when determining the best commercial roofing system for your project. Bottom line – find a knowledgeable, educated contractor who stays on top of the industry changes and varying codes. That will save money, time and headaches on your next commercial roofing project.