BE READY. Keep that roof over your head – literally!
By Guy Akasaki, President & CEO
The Hawaii roofing industry is experiencing a renewed renaissance, thanks to our robust local economy and its direct reflection on residential, commercial, industrial, rehabilitation and new construction projects. Our industry had fluctuated since the recession; however we are now trending upward as we see reflected in the past few years of low bids dictating the direction of the market for the consumer that leads to failures and litigation – rather than a higher life cycle cost for a longer performing roof life.
Keep in mind that just like our economy, Mother Nature has trends as well. We’ve all heard the warnings – but how many of us are actually PREPARED? June thru November marks the hurricane season here in Hawaii and forecasters are predicting 4 – 7 tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific with an 80% chance of normal or above normal cyclone activity. Hawaii has historically experienced a hurricane every 10 – 15 years, so precautions should be considered as we prepare for “when it happens” rather than defaulting to “if it happens”.
The devastation that Hurricane Iniki brought in 1993 taught us the importance to keep ourselves prepared for the worst. The ability of an organization to recover quickly is directly tied to the preparation and due diligence done while the sun is shining.
So what can you do to establish resilience for your building and community in times like these? Here are a few pieces to the pie that we believe will help property managers and building owners maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.
#1: ROOFING DONE RIGHT
The accurate specification, integration and installation of roofing materials into the building envelope are the baseline strategy. Going for the BEST solution is often less costly than going for the CHEAPEST solution, especially when disaster hits. The shifting economy has brought many ‘new products at reduced market prices’ that you or your customer may perceive as a benefit due to current economic or financial conditions. Rather, you should always use proven products with longevity, reliability and warranties. Left unchecked, a sense of complacency can begin to settle in — that is, until a catastrophic customer event occurs!
Another area to be wary of are upcoming changes in industry that may affect future projects and often times what happens on the mainland will eventually carry into the Hawaii market… on “Hawaiian time” as we all well know. The California Energy Commission adoption of Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings is a progression to watch. Title 24 requirements apply to “all new construction, and to retrofits or additions that replace or recoat…and apply to non-residential, high-rise residential, and residential buildings and are limited to specific climate zones.” (CRRC website: http://coolroofs.org/resources/california-title-24)
#2: ROOF MAINTENANCE & INSPECTIONS
The front end of the hurricane season is the best time for buildings to review and implement systemic controls, initiate inspections for drainage performance, and augment drainage solutions to accommodate extreme weather conditions. Being prepared for disaster can position your building for lower damage potential.
Maintain & Keep Roof Clean – Regularly scheduled maintenance of your roof will ensure preparedness. Investigate for unsecured loose items as they can become missiles during times of extreme weather! Roofs should not be used for storage. By making sure your roof is clean and clear, you will minimize the risk of damaging a nearby building or injuring a pedestrian by-passer. Nearby trees should be trimmed to keep damages to the roof at a minimum.
Drainage Assessed – Buildings that do not have overflow drains can run the risk of collapsing under the pressure of built up water. Make certain your drains are clear to perform at optimal intent.
Get Specific – Each roof type is predisposed to some type of degeneration, given enough time and exposure to the elements. Be sure to identify with your roofing contractor, what specific areas may need extra attention.
• Metal roofs – don’t let your roof become a deadly source of flying sheet metal. Check for loose fasteners, rusting panels and such.
• Shingle roofs – if they are 15-20 years old – take a look, are shingles coming loose?
• Tile roofs often require hurricane clips. Make sure they are installed and secured.
• Single Ply, Coatings & Built-Up Roofing – needs consistent rooftop maintenance.
#3: SOLAR PV CONSIDERATIONS
With the advent of renewable energy (solar PV) and its impact to the roof structure, there are many installers from a variety of trades who are not licensed roofing contractors, nor are they remotely experienced on how to deal with, or prepare for, extreme weather conditions. Seasoned roofing professionals understand the consequences of a system if it is not installed properly. Therefore, consideration should be given as re-roofing and capital projects are being pursued for execution. Trending weather conditions dictate proper specifications as it affects the lower life cycle costs where the time/value and costs become of economic benefit – more than the baseline price for “today.”
Common Installation problems:
• Unmatched roof life to the solar installation life
• Unmatched roof design to solar design (foot traffic, and future roof servicing)
• Not understanding the flow of water
• Lack of consideration for thermal movement, wind or seismic events
• Lack of understanding rooftop conditions during installation
• Not implementing a maintenance plan.
#4: BUILD UP YOUR RESERVES
Another way to minimize your RISK factor is to capitalize on the savings today by allowing a building or HOA to increase their reserve funds. Reducing overhead expenses can be achieved by employing energy efficient and energy saving systems. These common practice solutions contribute toward building resilience and recovery when looking ahead.
A few more wide-spread applications that we’ve seen successfully implemented are:
Rooftop PV Installations – when installed properly, this has transformed idle space into income generating powerplants for building owners, allowing for significant savings on annual operating costs. Now is the time, as the cost of PV panels ARE on the rise, solar tax credits are nearing expiration and the ever rising cost of electricity continues to progress. Power Purchase Agreements can cover 100% of the solar PV installation and maintenance costs for non-profit AOAOs.
Energy Efficient ACs – Just like solar hot water in Hawaii, the next innovation that is gaining traction with a perfect fit for this market is solar PV powered air conditioning. Cooling costs in Hawaii can typically range from about 60-70% of the total electricity bill. Shifting the energy source from the grid to the sun during peak hours can save quite a bit.
Optimize Hurricane Reserves – Ever since Hurricane Iniki, many HOA’s now have a high hurricane insurance deductible and are maintaining reserves in case of property damange sustained during a disaster. Taking certain action items such as installing hurricane clips on roofing applications will in some circumstances reduce insurance premiums.
In summary, there are several areas that this industry of roofing interfaces with. Finding solutions that work for your building can be a challenge, but with the expertise and knowledge of reputable companies, you can make an informed decision to help save money and also prepare your building to be resilient and READY. As with all things, we hope for the best and plan for the worst!
Guy Akasaki is the President & CEO of Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii, Inc. bringing to the table nearly 40 years of roofing and construction experience to Hawaii. His knowledge covers the full spectrum of the roofing and waterproofing industry and he currently serves on the Hawaii Contractors Licensing Board. His contributions to the industry for the advancement of roofing technology and roof-mounted PV energy systems in Hawaii keep him at the forefront of the roofing industry continuing to spur him on towards advocating sound business practices.