Concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the school year are top of mind for Milwaukee Public School (MPS) officials, so leaky roofs are among the last things they need on their plate. Thankfully, the district’s 200-plus roofs are in top working order due to the Atlas Roofing Corporation's Certified Drainage Program™ (CDP).

As previously covered by RC, the project began more than 20 years ago when Dennis Fula, former crew leader for the MPS roofing team, sought out Atlas Roofing to put together a program that would extend the life of every roof in the district. Most of them were worn down due to age and weathering, and according to Fula, a single roof sometimes had more than 100 leaks.

Following an inspection of each roof, Fula started working with Atlas Roofing representative Dan Dalle Nogare and a team of specialists. They evaluated each roof across the school district to create a solution that was not only lightweight, but had optimal thermal performance and positive drainage to endure Milwaukee’s harsh winters. That’s when they turned to the Atlas' CDP.

In a new video highlighting the project, Fula, said Atlas was on the scene to assist with the project from the get-go with the low-slope drainage system.

“What Atlas and the guys with the team had was, putting this together, we designed a way to make sure we always got water off the roof,” said Fula.

Long-Term Impact

In order for a roof to drain properly, Atlas requires a positive slope of about 1/8 inches. Once Atlas’ teams conducted surveys of every roof to determine any irregularities, they developed a grid for each individual roof to serve as the basis for their designs. The CDP ensures positive slope and drainage, which helps extend the life of the roof beyond a typical warranty.

Prior to the CDP, the school district only managed to squeeze between 10 to 20 years out of a roofing surface. John Linn, MPS’ manager of design and construction, said it can be difficult for a school district to provide the proper funding needed for maintenance, so the CDP’s promise of extending the service life by at least 10 to 15 years was a welcomed boon.

Now, 20-plus years later, Fula’s son, Ryan Fula, is in charge of the roofing at MPS. He said the district consists of approximately 10 million square feet of roofing, so an easy-to-maintain system has been critical. With Atlas’ assistance, Ryan said he and his team are able to maintain the 200-plus roofs.

As the video notes, repairs have drastically gone down in the two decades since the CPS was implemented. Previous to the new system, it was typical to find 200 to 400 leaks following a rainstorm. That has been reduced to an average of 20 to 30 leaks per building, with only a fraction of them caused by the roof.

“Atlas’ expertise when it comes to new roofing is second to none,” Ryan said. “Most roofing companies will tell you we get a 25-year warranty. With Atlas’ Certified Drainage system we try to extend the life to 35 to 40 years.”