Greener Roofs

A proposed ASTM International standard will provide general guidance regarding roofing system considerations and selection to building designers, builders and owners who want to install and maintain sustainable roofing systems, which may include rooftop vegetative systems, solar panels, specialized insulation (ballasting) and other components deemed sustainable on top of the roofing system.

According to ASTM member Eric K. Olson, P.E., Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, the guide is inspired by three principles of sustainable roofing: minimizing environmental impact, conserving energy and extending roof lifespan. This standard will not indicate specific materials or products but will serve as an overview that encompasses a variety of low sloped roofing systems.

"Roofing systems, in the name of sustainability, are being required to perform additional functions in addition to their primary and most important function, which is to weatherproof the top of the building," says Olson. "They are used as platforms for photovoltaics, open space, or vegetation. Consideration of the stresses and abuse of the roofing system created by these additional functions must be considered in its design to make a roof durable."

As an example, Olson notes that, for photovoltaic arrays, a roof must be sufficiently robust to take any added weight, heat, foot traffic and abuse that maintenance of the array will create.

"Consequences of ignoring these factors may cause premature roofing failure, requiring replacing the roof and damaged building elements that relied on the roof for protection," says Olson. "This creates environmental burden."

Subcommittee D08.24 on Sustainability is developing this standard (WK26599, Guide for Design of Sustainable, Low Slope Roofing Systems). Through its work, D08.24 addresses in a responsible manner the trends toward environmentally responsible construction and building maintenance and operation practices. D08.24 is currently developing several standards in addition to WK26599 and all interested parties are encouraged to join in its activities.

CONTACT Technical Information: Eric K. Olson, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger • Waltham, Mass. • tel +1.781.907.9311 | ASTM Staff: Joseph Hugo • tel +1.610.832.9740 | Upcoming Meeting: December 6-9 • December Committee Week • Tampa, Fla.

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