Nanometrics is the customer every roofing contractor hopes for. Knowledgable about the various types of roof systems available, informed about lifecycle costing, committed to the long-term performance and care of its investment. Situated in Milpitas, Calif., Nanometrics manufactures and markets advanced dimension, overlay and defect inspection metrology systems. What this means in layman's terms, according to John Berryman, vice president of operations, is that essentially, Nanometrics provides measuring equipment to the microchip industry, used for measurements critical to controlling its clients' manufacturing processes.

Protecting an Investment

When Nanometrics purchased the Milpitas facility, the 150,000-square-foot roof was in need of replacement. Berryman weighed various options and decided on a CertainTeed Flintlastic multi-layer roof system protected with a white acrylic reflective roof coating. This gave Nanometrics the value of long-term service life, an excellent NDL warranty, and energy cost savings at a time when California was facing a serious energy crisis and "brown outs." Perhaps best of all, the new roof earned the company a $75,000 rebate from the state of California under the Energy Star roof rebate program.

When interviewed for this article, Berryman was candid about the real cost over the long run of an inexpensive, low-end roof system. "Lesser roof systems with a 10-year warranty are typically OK the first five years or so, but then you start having problems. The roofing company will come out and patch it, but they certainly won't replace it. And of course when you have leaks you have damage. We can't afford to have any leaks in the clean room area where we have million-dollar machinery. These are very sensitive instruments," says Berryman. "We weighed the various systems proposed for their insulating and seal protection value, and energy savings was definitely a consideration. With the energy crisis in California, we were even looking at solar systems at the time. But the payback was too slow and we didn't have enough roof space to generate all the power we need. We would still have to supplement."

Berryman chose All Seasons Roofing for the project. With an office in San Jose and an affiliate company in Southern California (ADCO Roofing), All Seasons serves the entire state and has an extensive record of large-scale satisfied customers. "Their bid was competitively priced and they pointed out ways we could save money without sacrificing quality. They were just tremendous to work with. They gave us several roof options and suggested the reflective coated membrane system as our best value both short and long-term."

According to Vlad Gorshtien, vice president of All Seasons Roofing, the project did pose some challenges. "Because there were two existing roofs in place, a tear-off was necessary. The clean room equipment had to remain undisturbed and dust-free. We did most of the tear-off work at night and on the weekends. You can see from the aerial photo the concentration of rooftop equipment in the center of the building. Most of this equipment is mounted on platforms just 3 feet off the roof. We literally had to crawl under the platforms to get the work done."

Berryman comments, "Because of the tear-off we had some minor leaks during a storm that occurred while the work was in progress. Even though it wasn't their fault, All Seasons Roofing went the extra mile and replaced the damaged ceiling tiles. They also accommodated some additional work that wasn't in the initial contract. Both Vlad and Jess Hudak, CertainTeed commercial territory manager took time to meet with me several times and explain the various project phases and answer any questions I had. They were a great team to work with."

The new roof system consisted of one layer of CertainTeed's GlasBase, mechanically attached to the plywood deck. Over this, one layer of CertainTeed's Flintlastic STA was torch applied, followed by one layer of Flintlastic GTA, also torch applied. The white acrylic reflective roof coating was applied in a two-step process. "I was very impressed by the way the roof coating gripped into the mineral surfacing of the cap sheet. It's really an ideal surface to apply roof coating to," notes Berryman.

It's all good. But it gets better. To protect his company's investment and keep the roof at its optimum performance, Berryman had walkway pads installed in the heavy traffic areas. "We have to maintain very constant interior temperatures, and a worker goes up on the roof several times a day to check the air conditioning equipment. One amazing aspect of this roof system is that no matter how sunny and hot the weather, you can put your hand on the surface of the roof and it's cool to the touch. It's pretty incredible."

And that's not all. Understanding that the cleaner and whiter the roof coating is kept, the better it will perform from the reflectivity standpoint, Berryman has the roof regularly cleaned and hosed off.

Cool Roofs

According to the report, "Demonstration of Energy Savings of Cool Roofs" by S. Konopacki, L. Gartland and H. Akbari, Heat Island Project, Environmental Energy Technologies Divisions, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, "In buildings and climates with significant air-conditioning use, increasing the albedo of roofs will reduce energy use and produce a stream of savings immediately." The well-known study, prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, studies the effects of reflective roof coating on various buildings measuring albedo, surface temperature and energy consumption relative to interior cooling.

The California Energy Commission's 2001 Cool Savings program was designed to provide incentives to reduce the peak electricity demand from air conditioning systems resulting from solar energy absorbed by roof surfaces and rooftop ducts and transferred as heat into air-conditioned space. According to the commission, monitoring of buildings before and after cool roof applications shows that roof surface temperatures are lowered by 30 to 50 degrees F or more and that savings of up to 40 percent for the electricity for cooling can result. While this particular rebate program ended for the time being, similar programs are occurring elsewhere in the United States and legislation is being considered to make "cool roofs" a requirement for low-slope roofs at some time in the future, in some areas.

Roof coatings like CertainTeed's FlintCoat-W (white acrylic) and FlintCoat-A Plus (SBS modified aluminum) not only make traditional low-slope roof membrane systems tough competitors in the Energy Star arena, they serve the dual purpose of protecting the roof membrane from UV degradation, thereby extending the useful performance life of the roof system by years.

Building owners like Nanometrics understand the real cost of an inexpensive roof. Every building owner looking at a new roof system should do a simple worksheet to compare the cost vs. value. Consider potential energy savings, energy rebates, resale value with a transferable warranty and the need for future roof replacement.

Roofing contractors should spend enough time with their clients to help them "do the math" and understand the life cycle costing factors for their specific project. The partnership of Nanometrics and All Seasons Roofing is a stunning example of the economic value gained from examining the options and investing in a premium, high performance roof system that offers more that just short-term waterproofing.