Sika Sarnafil, a worldwide manufacturer of thermoplastic roofing and waterproofing membranes, has long been committed to environmentally friendly building construction and practices. As part of this commitment, the company has formally recognized a sustainable roofing project each year since 2004. This year, the Recycling Project of the Year award was presented to Imperial Roof Systems of West Union, Iowa, for its re-roofing of the SuperTarget store in Olathe, Kan. Despite challenging conditions, the project stood out in terms of its minimization of waste and recycling and re-use of materials. The resulting roof system stands as a model of sustainability, saving energy and protecting the building and its occupants for many years to come.

According to Ryan Hoey, project superintendent for Imperial Roof Systems, Target is well known for its dedication to reducing its carbon footprint in an effort to eventually become a zero-waste company. “Target is trying to be a sustainable corporation on all of its projects — not just roofing,” he said “This is big. It makes them stand out from others, to be able to recycle and be a green corporation.”

Keeping with this goal, Target has maintained a recycling partnership with Sika Sarnafil since 2007. “Helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals is good business and an important factor in our success,” said Jay Thomas, vice president of marketing for Sika Sarnafil. “Sika Sarnafil is the only roofing manufacturer to recycle old roofing membrane into new roofing membrane.”

Since 2005, Sika Sarnafil has processed nearly 40 million pounds of roofing membrane as part of its industry-wide PVC Roof Membrane Recycling Program. Imperial Roof Systems has been active in this program since 2010 and has also done regular maintenance, repairs and special projects for Target for several years. “All of our crews that have been on Target projects have gotten it down to a ‘T’ as far as the recycling,” Hoey said. “In the past 2-3 years, we have probably recycled about 2 million square feet.”

Thomas added, “Imperial Roof Systems has re-roofed close to 20 Target stores across multiple states and has torn off more than 2.5 million square feet of older, vinyl roofing.” So, when the 175,000-square-foot roof on the Olathe store needed to be replaced, Target chose Sika Sarnafil materials and awarded the re-roof job to Imperial Roof Systems — a Sika Sarnafil Elite and Target Preferred Tier One roofing contractor.

Re-Roofing and Recycling

According to Hoey, Imperial was in familiar territory on the job. “The existing roof was an old, mechanically attached Sika Sarnafil roof that we installed,” he said. “We tore it off and saw that it was a good project to recycle. The membrane was in good shape, and we were able to recycle it back into raw materials again. Target decided to go back with a Sika Sarnafil PVC RhinoBond Roof System with a half-inch recovery board to help with hail and foot protection. The Sika roof system had proven to be a good product over the past years for Target.”

Instead of disposing of the materials from the roof tear-off, Imperial collaborated with Sika Sarnafil to recycle as much as possible. “We were pulling off old materials and sending it back to Sika Sarnafil,” Hoey said. “Since the store was being remodeled, there was very limited access to the roof for staging materials. The storage for the recycled materials had to be on the ground until there was enough to send to Sika.”

Hoey explained that while there is some additional time and costs involved in the recycling process, it is well worth the effort. “It does take a bit longer labor wise, but the offset with the costs of the dumpsters and the landfills balances out. It comes out to be about equal,” he said. “Being able to recycle that much material back to the manufacturer for future use makes it worthwhile. My estimate is that we recycled 50,000-60,000 pounds of material that didn’t go to landfills.”

Overcoming Obstacles

While the project was successfully completed in about eight weeks, Imperial did encounter some challenges along the way. “At the same time the re-roof was going on, that Target store was being 100-percent remodeled,” Hoey said. “We had to complete the project without causing noise or letting the customers know we were there. Trying to keep it clean and safe for workers and shoppers, and coordinating the new work being done on the roof by the general contractors with our re-roof work was a challenge.”

Since the job was being done between mid-February and mid-April, the weather also came into play. “Kansas is very big for ice storms and frost, which made it a little tricky at times,” Hoey said. “With the remodel and the time of year, it made it unique that we were able to complete the project without leaks, delays or bothering the store team.”

 This perseverance, dedication and professionalism are what earned Imperial the Recycling Project of the Year award. “While sustainability may seem like a simple concept, it can be difficult and complex to put into practice. The roofing contractor is an integral part of the recycling program,”Thomas said. “Imperial Roof Systems is an ideal partner in the recycling process. They understand the process and actively work to assure success. Things don’t always go as planned, but Imperial is committed to overcoming obstacles and assuring a good result for their customer, the building owner. This makes all the difference.”