In the past, roofing contractors were nowhere near the top of the list of people that building owners and design professionals would call for advice on energy savings and environmental issues. But that’s all changing now that NRCA and its industry partners have taken the lead in educating the building and design community about the impact quality roofing systems can have on reducing energy costs and protecting the environment.

Need information on the latest in state-mandated energy codes? Interested in learning more about how to protect the environment and reduce energy costs? How about a model that shows the most cost-effective, energy-efficient roof system for the building you’re working on?

In the past, roofing contractors were nowhere near the top of the list of people that building owners and design professionals would call for advice on energy savings and environmental issues. But that’s all changing now that NRCA and its industry partners have taken the lead in educating the building and design community about the impact quality roofing systems can have on reducing energy costs and protecting the environment.

SpecRight, a training program that launched in February 2006, is turning today’s roofing contractor into an Energy Conservation Consultant. Its focus is to educate contractors about the latest in sustainable, environmentally responsive, energy-efficient roof systems. In turn, trained roofing contractors can help building owners make intelligent, informed decisions based on the most current technology available.

The SpecRight Web site,, contains information about the training program and lists the contractors who have completed the training.

Based on ASHRAE 90.1, SpecRight ensures compliance with state-mandated energy codes and aims to educate contractors, the design community and building owners about how a quality roof system can and will contribute to reduced energy costs and environmental protection.

The SpecRight training program is broken down into three components. These include the following:

• An education effort to train roofing contractors, designers and others in matters pertaining to energy, the environment and roof systems. This training includes information about codes and standards and the use of NRCA’s EnergyWise Roof Calculator.

• Models to help building owners determine the most cost-effective, energy-efficient roof systems for their buildings. The models show the relative values of added thermal insulation, reflectivity, emissivity and ongoing maintenance, along with extended payback periods.

• An outreach program for the building owner and design community, including information about where to find trained and knowledgeable contractors.

Those who attend a SpecRight training session learn how to use NRCA’s EnergyWise Roof Calculator, which was created in cooperation with the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturer’s Association. Offered online or in a CD-ROM format, the roof calculator shows approximate energy costs when roof insulation and reflective roof surfaces are used in roof assemblies.

Additionally, SpecRight training sessions provide a synopsis of current energy-related programs in use throughout the United States, including the U.S. Green Building Council-sponsored Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System ™; Cool Roof Rating Council; state energy programs, such as California’s Title 24; city energy programs, such as the Chicago Energy Conservation Code; and the Energy Star® program.

SpecRight training includes breakout sessions on ASHRAE 90.1, LEED, state and local codes and other topics. Here John Schehl, NRCA’s director of training, leads a breakout session on Green Roofs.

Promoting Energy Savings

Christine MacDonald, project manager for MAGCO Inc., a Tecta America Company, Jessup, Md., agrees that SpecRight can be effective as both a sales and marketing tool. “Especially in today’s world, anything to promote energy savings is effective,” MacDonald says. “Just having the program available is a great benefit. It’s designed well, and it’s user-friendly.”

Although many of her customers still consider upfront costs to be the most important factor when buying a new roof, MacDonald says rising energy costs have made the importance of long-term energy savings more of a factor in customers’ ultimate roofing decisions.

“People are beginning to look beyond the initial cost of the roof and consider the importance of energy payback over the life of the roof. We use SpecRight to educate them and help them become more aware.”

Michael Herlihy III, executive vice president of Olsson Roofing Co. Inc. in Aurora, Ill., says his company likes to use SpecRight on a more relative basis. “We don’t rely on it to tell a customer what their actual savings will be. We let them do the speculation and give them relative comparisons,” says Herlihy.

“If we find that a building owner is concerned about energy costs, we use the SpecRight Program to try and convince him to increase the quality of his roof assembly,” adds Herlihy. He acknowledges that he uses SpecRight as more of an advisory tool rather than an exact number-crunching analytical tool and that approach seems to work with his customers.

“We do a simple comparison, showing them the difference in construction costs and annual energy costs. In the end, our customers feel like they are building a better building - and developing a better long-term investment. The rationale is that if they invest a little more up front, then they are more likely to retain the value of that building down the road.”

Kent Tolley, vice president of Quality Tile Roofing Inc., Boise, Idaho, is finding that his clients generally are more aware of the importance of energy-efficient buildings. “When we talk to our customers about energy savings, we definitely have their attention,” Tolley says. “We simply let the customers look at the payback they can receive over time. It’s as simple as that.”

“SpecRight offers an outstanding opportunity to show clients they have the opportunity to seriously improve the energy efficiency of their buildings,” says Chris Jurin, vice president of Jurin Roofing Services Inc., Quakertown, Pa. “We see it as a way to educate our clients, using third-party software to substantiate our position and effectively show a building owner or architect how we arrived at our recommendations.”

Beldon Roofing Co. in San Antonio, Texas, has taken the SpecRight mission one step further by hosting a seminar to educate its customers on the importance of energy savings–both in new and retrofit projects.

The company recently hosted a SpecRight seminar for 32 attendees, including Beldon Roofing team members, roof consultants, building owners, design professionals and other local-area businesses.

“Our goal was to inform and enlighten them to consider energy savings when reroofing in the future; to be concerned not only with waterproofing but also with energy savings,” explains Dick Zucker, vice president of marketing for Beldon Roofing.

Chief Executive Officer and President Brad Beldon agrees that the idea of showcasing SpecRight as a way to highlight the importance of energy savings can be an effective business and marketing tool. “We just realized how much more convenient and accessible it would be for the people in our area to learn about SpecRight closer to home rather than having to travel to another city or state,” Beldon says.

Since the seminar, Beldon Roofing has received numerous e-mails and thank-you notes for bringing together such a varied group in the name of energy conservation. “If we can educate our fellow contractors and customers about the importance of building and maintaining an energy-efficient roof system, then we feel it’s a true win-win,” states Beldon. “It’s good for our business and our community.”

One concept all these roofing contractors agree on is the benefit they gain from telling their customers they are SpecRight trained. They also can direct their customers to the SpecRight Web site, which also lists the names of SpecRight trained contractors.

Still Learning

The roofing industry still is learning. Energy-efficient, cost-saving and environmentally friendly roofing options will continue to be developed. And as more roofing options and information become available, it will become even more helpful for contractors, the design community, building owners and homeowners to have access to the information SpecRight provides.

“Now is the right time for the SpecRight Program,” says Bill Good, NRCA executive vice president. “With energy prices high and global warming becoming increasingly evident, we have to ask ourselves how the roofing industry can contribute. The SpecRight Program is a great start.”

NRCA plans to highlight the

For more information about the SpecRight program, visit SpecRight training sessions are also available on a contract basis. To learn more about how you can host a customized SpecRight training session for your employees and customers, contact Allison Noble at 800-323-9545, ext. 709.