The timing for last month’s Roofing Industry Research Summit in Washington, D.C., was perfect, for a variety of reasons...

The timing for last month’s Roofing Industry Research Summit in Washington, D.C., was perfect, for a variety of reasons:
  • Increased Attention on Buildings Requires a New Focus on Roofs. Within the last 10 years, buildings have become a focal point for the growing green movement across the world. Thanks to green rating and classification systems, buildings and their key components (roofs) are being scrutinized in terms of their long-term impact on the environment and contribution to a sustainable society. As a result, numerous questions have emerged regarding the function and impact of modern roofing systems on overall building sustainability.
  • The Rooftop is a Valuable Strategic Energy and Environmental Resource. Rooftops could contribute nearly $2 billion in annual and $10 billion in cumulative energy savings within a decade if current best energy practices (not just solar and roof reflectivity) were universally applied to the 4 billion square feet of low-slope commercial roofs installed every year in North America. These figures, provided by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, include solar thermal, photovoltaic, daylighting and wind power roof applications. Just imagine the savings that the increased use of roof insulation can provide.
  • New Roofing Technologies are Emerging that Require Research Attention. In the mid-1980s, the roofing industry experienced a significant and potentially disruptive change with the emergence of a tide of new roofing materials that dramatically altered design, installation and maintenance practices. Past research studies also document that this change came with a learning curve that for a period of time compromised long-term roof performance before new industry standards were implemented. Due to the influx of new energy efficient, energy-producing and environmentally responsive roofing systems, roof research needs are now significantly greater than ever before.
  • The Roofing Industry Needs an Up-To-Date Research Agenda. Several notable research agendas over the past 20 years are now out of date and may not adequately reflect the significant internal and external changes affecting the roofing industry right now. These changes include rooftop energy systems, photovoltaics and wind power, among others.
Finally, the addition of new energy and environmental technologies and practices into roofing may have unexpected and adverse affects on today’s “traditional” roofing systems. All of these changes and their interactions with modern roofing systems need to be evaluated and prioritized so that the roofing industry can effectively participate in the tsunami of change affecting our buildings and our rooftops.

To keep track of the Roofing Industry Research Summit’s progress on identifying research goals,