Roof consultants typically work with both the building owner and the roofing contractor, giving them a unique perspective when it comes to examining roof maintenance. I recently spoke with consultant Rick Cook, a partner with ADC Engineering in Charleston, S.C., and the current president of RCI, Inc. We were discussing environmentally friendly products and systems, including garden roofs and photovoltaics, when he surprised me by saying that when it comes to the building envelope, preventive maintenance might be the best way to help the environment.
Cook noted that proper roof maintenance extends the life of the roof and delays - and in some cases prevents - that material from ending up in a landfill. “I teach a course which I titled ‘Saving our Facilities and Saving the World’ - a title that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek,” he said. “The point is the key word in our industry is ‘sustainability.’ With roofing and waterproofing, what is the one thing we can do to sustain our environment? It’s to save the roof. A typical roof should last 20 years - let’s use that as a benchmark. If the majority of roofs last 15 years, we’ve lost 25 percent of the life of those roofs. If we get into maintenance and extend the life, you see the value in it.”
“There is a lot of talk about sustainability in new construction,” he continued. “With roofing and exterior walls of existing facilities, the focus is really on maintenance. In my PowerPoint presentation, I include the motto, ‘To sustain, you must endure, and to endure, you must maintain.’”
Cook uses an analogy everyone can understand by comparing a roof to the family car, which needs oil changes and other routine maintenance to run smoothly and last longer. The lagging economy has brought increased attention to roof maintenance, which is a bit of a silver lining in tough economic times. “As the economy gets worse, we gain ground,” he said. “We’re getting closer to the life we should get out of our roofs.”
For more on my interview with Cook, see the article “Consultants Preach the Value of Preventive Maintenance” online at www.arwmag.com.
Chris King, Editor