As technology evolves, so does the call for higher quality roofing materials and advanced installation techniques. The purpose behind commercial roofing codes and standards has always been the same — to protect lives and investments, and to secure public welfare through the regulation of design and structure. Many of today’s codes and standards also reflect a growing desire for sustainability.
The Energy Factor
An energy-efficient building is a cost-effective building. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) issues standards for commercial facilities, such as semi-conditioned buildings, cold-storage units, warehouses and schools. States and local building authorities incorporate these standards into their building codes.
Ever-changing ASHRAE standards focus on improving a facility’s “envelope,” through R-value recommendations and the use of polyiso insulation. As insulation standards increase, energy costs drop, reducing the drain on our limited natural resources. Building managers can take advantage of energy savings and qualify for LEED points by choosing approved roofing systems.
Building codes decrease the risk of wind damage to low-slope roofs. Wind uplift, a phenomenon that creates negative pressure on the perimeter of the roof’s surface, can compromise the integrity of — and eventually loosen the roofing system. Improvements in fasteners, single-ply membrane attachment, edge details and sheet metal components help roofs resist high wind loads.
Wind-resistance standards vary by locale, with the strictest standards enforced in regions that frequently experience high winds. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE-7) regularly updates its criteria to reflect improvements in roofing system technology and installation methods. Roofing systems undergo testing on uplift-testing tables to ensure that they meet wind-load requirements.
Impact and Fire Resistance
The International Building Code (IBC) and the Uniform Building Code (UBC) set standards based on either occupancy or on the type of construction, both with the intent of reducing damage from hail and preventing the rapid spread of fire. Local building codes adopt the standards most likely to benefit facilities in their specific region. As part of their recommendation, the IBC and UBC insist on adherence to the roofing manufacturer’s installation specifications. The IBC offers prescriptive requirements to improve impact and fire resistance for multiple roof systems, including EPDM, PVC, BUR, metal roofs and coatings.
What Does It Mean for Managers and Owners?
Facility owners and managers can expect to see slight increases in the installation costs of commercial roofs as the industry incorporates new and improved standards. The flip side is that stronger, more durable, and increased energy efficiency; translate into longer roof life, decreased repair costs and greater long-term savings.
At North American Roofing, we meet and exceed building codes and standards so our customers know they’re getting a high quality roof at a competitive price.