Three roofing trade groups are collaborating on the funding of research into assemblies installed on a correctional facility to evaluate the benefits of thermal insulation and cool roofing in northern climates.
The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), the Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Roofing Association (ERA), and the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) are sponsoring continued analysis of a reroofing project at the Onondaga County Correctional Facility in Jamesville, New York.
Temperature and rain data from the project—which includes vegetative roofing, increased insulation levels, and ‘cool’ roofs—will provide information on building performance and roof-covering selection.
“Using a whole building approach where roofing reflectivity, insulation levels, and other design elements are considered in the architectural decision-making process will help ensure the right system is selected,” explained Reed Hitchcock, ARMA’s executive vice-president. “This project can only help with that decision.”
When the facility was due for a major reroofing project in 2009, Onondaga’s Department of Facilities Management saw an opportunity to evaluate the water-retention and energy-efficiency performance for different roof-covering assemblies. The project also offered valuable information that could be used to identify the best options for future re-roof projects across the county’s entire building inventory.
Ashley-McGraw Architects (Syracuse, New York) and CDH Energy (Cazenovia, New York) worked together to design and install a field-monitoring system to collect data on thermal performance, weather conditions, and roof runoff from four buildings at the Jamesville facility. CDH Energy released a report in October 2011 that made recommendations on roof-covering selection, laying the groundwork for the current research.
“The use of vegetative roof systems as a storm water control mechanism was the most important takeaway from the first years of the project,” said the firm’s Hugh Henderson, PE. “Continuing the project will provide a better evaluation of cool roof and insulation products as part of roof designs in colder climates.”
With the instrumentation still in place, it was decided to keep on evaluating the roof-coverings over a longer period to better see how the assemblies interact with weather conditions. Of particular interest is the effect of accumulated snow on roofs that may affect the buildings’ thermal performance.
“Roof insulation is an integral part of the design strategy for a building’s energy efficiency footprint, and this study will help building owners, contractors and architects assess a roof’s performance from a broader basis and ensure the best energy-efficient components are used,” said Jared O. Blum, PIMA president.
The Onondaga County reroofing project includes an analysis of the comparison of cool roof technologies consisting of reflective roof surfaces and high-performing, well-insulated roof-covering assemblies.
“Our members produce both reflective and absorptive roof coverings—this study will provide meaningful data that can help designers select the right products for their particular project, regardless of where in the country the roof will be installed,” said Ellen Thorp, associate executive director for ERA.
The project is expected to run through 2015.