Two questions for you, Mr. or Ms. Roofing Contractor:
1. How do you define a “sustainable” roofing system? The stumbling economy and the noise of owners clamoring for any way they can to save money should not distract us from continuously improving our products and profits. If you think of “sustainable” as being “expensive” you may want to rethink how you define the term.
To me, for a roofing system to be considered sustainable, it should be not only long-lasting, but repairable. Any roofing system installed in the planned obsolescence model should not be considered sustainable. To be truly sustainable, the roofing materials should be recyclable. Taking a world view of our materials becomes more important every year as we continue to consume non-renewable energy and materials sources as the population of the planet expands.
Sustainable roofing systems should win in the category of life-cycle cost. That may not make it the least expensive option on day one, but in a world where owners are hanging on to every dollar and every asset, they must realize that maintaining and improving their existing assets has value. That value increases exponentially in a weak economy. And that certainly goes for their built spaces and roofing investments.
The troubles our economy has gone through over the past three years have taught owners and investors that there is a tomorrow. It is time for the roofing industry to leverage that knowledge into aggressive selling of sustainability — and yes, in a time when available construction dollars are scarce.
2. What sustainable options are you giving your clients?
If you do not have an answer backed up by a decent marketing message to deliver to your market, you may want to get to work on one. You will not sell it if you are unwilling or unable to present it to your clients and potential clients.
I am going to stop short of presenting my opinion on what systems are and are not sustainable. We feature a variety of roofing systems each month in Roofing Contractor and every day online at www.roofingcontractor.com. We publish for a national (and international) audience of roofing contractors who perform work on a wide array of construction projects. So the answer is going to be different in each area and for many contractors.
You are the expert in the region where you operate. You know what works and what does not work. You know which systems are sustainable even if you have never presented them quite that way.
I am convinced the world is changing from one not caring so much about the life of their roof because they think they will outgrow it before it needs to be replaced. Today’s owners and investors are looking for long-term value in construction assets and they are moving away from systems that are not replaceable, renewable or recyclable. Do not let them get too far ahead of you in this regard. Even if you think they will not go for it, offer them the most sustainable option you have. They may surprise you.