LEAK ALERT! What Can You Do?

EEK- A-LEAK!!!   As we encounter roof leaks during the rainey season or as storms hit our islands, there are “temporary remedies” that can be done.. Once the rains subside, then we are able to perform actual roof repair work.   Below are some drawings to help assess the best mode of redirecting water leaks until your scheduled roof repair.

“Taking some precautionary action to re-route internal leaks will allow the water to drain out safely and will prevent the water from pooling. You will minimize your drywall damage, and it will also reduce the chances of your ceiling caving in.” Full Article can be found here and illustrated tips below.

leaking roof trick

leaking roof trick

SCENARIO:  Leak coming down from a ceiling tile (near center of room/space).

Materials: pencil, string, bucket, tarp (optional)

Step 1:  push pencil thru the ceiling tile till only string is hanging from ceiling into the bucket

Step 2: weight tied to the bottom of the string into the center of the bucket

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.39.43 PM

SCENARIO: Leak coming down from a ceiling tile, bulging from leak (near wall of a room/space).

Materials: bucket, painters tarp, something sharp, blue tape

Step 1: Poke a hole into ceiling to prevent ceiling tile bulging

Step 2: Blue tape the painters plastic against the wall

Step 3: Run the plastic into the bucket

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.39.55 PM


Let us know if you need our assistance during the storm period to set-up temporary remedies; there is a nominal fee.  Contact our CRW DIRECT Maintenance & Repairs Division:

Phone: (808) 748-8423


Mahalo for considering us a resource!

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Energy Code Changes That Can Impact Roof Replacement Costs

By Larry Young, Vice President/PME, Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii, Inc.
& Richelle Thomason, Director of Business Development & Client Relations, Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii, Inc.

At this year’s Hawaii Buildings, Facilities & Property Management Expo, CRW invited Howard Wiig, Energy Analyst from the Hawaii State Energy Office as one of the guest panelists to discuss the Hawaii Energy Code (HEC) and the impact it would have on roofing in Hawaii. According to Howard, he is optimistic that the following “Draft Amendments” will be adopted and enforced this year for both residential and commercial properties.

IECC code amendment_ Residential

IECC code amendment_Commercial

The state distinguishes “residential buildings” as 1-3 stories and “commercial buildings” as 4 stories and above.

While the counties of Hawaii, Maui and Honolulu are still operating under the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), Kauai is operating under the 2009 IECC. Once the HEC is adopted, all counties will conform concurrently.

We recently negotiated a contract to reroof an 84 unit (6 buildings) townhome project on Kauai, which resulted in added costs totaling approximately $85,000 to comply with the 2009 IECC. They were required to insulate each unit’s attic space and while there are a few insulation options available, they chose the most economical insulation method. Because Hawaii, Maui and Honolulu are still operating under the 2006 IECC, properties are not required to comply with the 2009 IECC.

attic space with no insulation

Example: Attic space with no insulation


radiant barrier

Example: Attic space with radiant barrier

The good news is…with the islands seeming more muggy and humid these past years and everyone doing their part to pursue a sustainable future, HOA’s have already been performing 2 out of the 3 reroofing option as outlined above in the Draft Amendments.

 In the case where an overlay is possible, the energy code would not apply if the sheathing is not exposed per the code amendment. However, it is not clear whether community associations who have restricted architectural guidelines would be excluded from the energy code.

For commercial buildings (classified as 4 stories and above) the insulation R-value requirement will be changing from R-15 to R-38, potentially increasing the overall project cost by 30-50%.



At this point, we recommend HOA’s re-evaluate their reserve study and make necessary adjustments to their roof reserve in compliance with the energy code. Associations who need to re-roof this year, or shortly thereafter but do not have adequate reserves to comply with new roofing code requirements have other options, such as a bank loan or special assessment. However those are not the only options available.

Associations can have their roof thoroughly inspected and determine what it will take or cost to extend the life of your existing roof until your reserve fund is adequately funded.

Comprehensive roof management programs provide the client with a thorough roof inspection for recommended action items needed for immediate, remedial and long-term maintenance. Customized maintenance plans should support access to archived historical data available for tracking purposes and ultimately decision making for repairs or re-roofing.



…And we don’t mean just have someone go up there and just coat some black goop here and there…black mastic

Larry Young is the Vice President/PME at CRW and Richelle Thomason is the Director of Business Development and Client Relations at CRW. Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing is a full-service roofing and waterproofing contractor with 75 employees and operations in Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. They cover the full spectrum of roofing and waterproofing, having installed nearly every kind of system from the purely functional to assemblies that are highly visible and aesthetically pleasing. CRW is highly involved with ‘Sustainability Initiatives,’ and through their partnerships with a strategic alliance of a family of companies, provides a multitude of technologically advanced clean energy systems and efficient products to reduce carbon footprints, including solar reflective specialty coatings, and a new generation of technologically advanced PV energy systems.  


The IECC booklet is a very useful tool as it covers the entire building envelope. For more information on the 2015 IECC or to order a copy visit:

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BE READY. Keep that roof over your head!

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.


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:


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.


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.


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.

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Project Case Study: 1450 Young Street

AOAO 1450 Young Street  |  What Goes Up Must Come Down

Watch the Videos:  Ground UP |   Rooftop DOWN

This condominium located in Makiki, is a 28 story high-rise located on a high traffic roadway in Honolulu.  With 28 floors and 247 units, the logistics of removing and installing a NEW roof on this building was a challenge in the least.  This was a cap sheet and insulation project that required a 3-4 day tear off and 1 day loading. The foreman on the job was Alan Nemoto running a 7-man crew.

CRW worked with the team at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. to develop the project specifications for this building.  ACL Group, LLC was the construction consultant on the project working on behalf of the owners to help ensure minimal impact to the owners.  Both  worked directly with the board to communicate the extensive set up, staging and logistics in a way that would have the least amount of impact on the residents and passerby’s. All stages of the project were addressed to ensure security, safety and efficiency for the best solution as far as staging, preparation and execution of the tear off and removal of the EXISTING roof as well as the transportation, installation and staging of the NEW roofing materials.

A scaffolding bridge was set up on the side of the property as it was the least frequented area in order to keep down the liability as well as being the least windy side of the building.  The scaffolding blended nicely into the foliage on property keeping the temporary set up as minimal of an eye-sore as possible for the local residents.  What made this scaffolding set up unique – was that the height of the scaffolding was perfect for the off-loading of existing roofing material that had to get torn off and the for LOADING of the NEW roofing materials from the delivery flatbed to the staging area to get hoisted up to the top of the roof.


positioning and staging of the scaffolding for loading and unloading of materials

Easy access to unloading the materials that get removed from the rooftop for disposal

scaffolding set up along the street side and building

scaffolding set up overhead for passerby's

RSI delivery to the job site, was easily loaded up to the scaffolding, then hoisted up to the rooftop

the FAR building in the background is AOAO 1450 Young Street

500 lb. pallets were individually hoisted up 28 stories on the exterior of the building...

A 4-man crew on the ground loaded and monitored each pallet

Each pallet had to be staged, positioned, and monitored all the way up

While the load stays constant, the winds can shift at any moment... that monitor is important!

Halfway up!

Almost there - but all eyes remain on the load being hoisted... winds create capillary action that can catch the pallet unexpectedly

wind blowing slightly left..

With loading scenarios like this - its so important that the Board communicates clearly to the owners, the importance of closing their windows so that the load doesn't accidentally catch a window corner in loading...

Made it!

The harness coming back down the hoist, is another process that requires watchful monitoring so that the wind doesn't catch and snap the cord and metal clamps against a window..

The lineup of materials to be loaded.

Fun fact: the little hoist at the top has an 1800 lb. counterweight to sustain the upcoming loads

Ground crew loading up the next pallet of materials to go up

New Load coming up!


Simultaneously, from the rooftop, another 3 man team was operating the hoist and staging the materials up on the rooftop. It was apparent that the winds could change at any given time and ensuring that the pallet was secured and managed from below was imperative. The communication between the two teams was seamless and the process of hoisting up the 500lb. pallets was teamwork in action. A total of 19 pallets had to be hoisted up safely and securely.

View from the top of the roof

One man operates the hoist, two men handles the loads that deliver to the rooftop

There she goes! On its way up..



Almost there... notice how close to the building and windows the pallets can lean into - even with one man monitoring the load

Almost to the top! Notice that open window at an angle...

500 lb pallet almost to the top

Hoisted all the way up to the top!

Almost there!

swing to the right and drop down for unharnessing and positioning

Watch the video!

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Building Industry Hawaii, February 2015 Cover Issue:

February 2015 Issue, Building Industry Hawaii Magazine

View the original online-article written by Brett Alexander-Estes here

An interview with Guy Akasaki, CRW President & CEO.
By Brett Alexander-Estes

Rocket Man—An Interview with Guy Akasaki How a roofing entrepreneur aims high and uses industry innovations to get there.

Building Industry_Feb 2015_Rocket Man (download PDF)

BIH: Tell us how you got started— the story is you started CRW from scratch.

Akasaki: From chicken scratch. I had not anticipated starting my own company. I was the president and chief operating officer for the largest roofing company at the time (1993). When Iniki hit, the economy was kind of tanking, so we needed to make some adjustments. The owner wanted to make an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Then at the eleventh hour, decided he didn’t want to sell. I had to make a decision because aside from the overhead, there was a difference of intent and direction. I tendered my resignation. I was going to open up a Subway franchise. I let the owner know that, because I’d been in the industry so long, I would commit to him for one year. I had no ‘noncompete’ (written agreement)—‘I will verbally commit to you that I will not compete for one year.’

BIH: Did you keep your word?

Akasaki: Making a commitment was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, because when my wife convinced me not to get into Subway sandwiches, I said, ‘OK, maybe I can do roof repairs.’ Starting up, a senior project manager calls: ‘We have this job. I want to give it to you.’ It was about $1.5 million. ‘We’ll cover the cost, you bring in the men, we’ll split the profit.’ I went, ‘OK, let me think about it.’ It’s one of those times, that small still voice going, ‘What about ‘no compete?’ Because as an agent (for the former company), I had negotiated the job. The manager called me back: ‘When we going to start?’ I told him, ‘I gotta step away. I made a vow.’ He hung up on me. A few weeks later, a developer called: ‘I got $30 million. I can give you working capital. Set it up however you want.’ I went, ‘Let me get back to you.’ That small still voice came again: ‘Guy, if you borrow that money, you’re in hock to his vision. How will you be able to fulfill your purpose and destiny?’ I remember going, ‘Aw, jeez, man!’ Because I could almost taste it, right? I remember telling him, ‘I got to step away.’ After those two things happened, I thought, ‘You’re doing the right thing—it’s going to be all right!’

BIH: So business picked up?

Akasaki: The next year was the most trying part of my life. We were into the third quarter, and we were down 35 percent. We had to hit $650,000 to break even. I was looking at my business plan, very upset. I helped two smaller roofers set up and they’re doing well. So how come—me!—it’s not working? I remember grabbing that book, four o’clock in the morning, and threw it against the wall. I was having a little conversation with the Man Upstairs. I said, ‘I do everything right, and it just hits me in the face!’ I fell asleep in a fetal position and woke up in the morning, all sore. But somehow there was a renewed purpose. I knew my relationship with the Guy Upstairs was set to retrench. In less than three months, we hit that 35 percent. The following year, we grew by 20 percent. That third year we won Pacific Business News’ “Fastest 50.“ And since then, it’s been a growth track of about 10 to 15 percent a year.

BIH: Did roofing alone propel your business, or did other services come into play?

Akasaki: If you have commercial roofing, you start in a roofing area with opportunities in sustainability and energy savings. I started to get into photovoltaic because I wanted to see how I could incorporate PV into the roofing element, what you call building an integral photovoltaic. That was before PV took off about eight and a half years ago.

BIH: CRW is in the top tier of Hawaii roofers—in annual revenue, in innovation and in market diversification. How did you take your original operation to this level?

Akasaki: The foundational mis•sion and core values that define CRW today were surfaced, tested CRW reroofed the Harbor Court tower with DensDeck Roof Board and a Sarnafil Décor Roof System. and refined in that first-year proving ground. The whole idea is to train a core team and the champions within the house, and opportunities begin to arise to allow them to step out, right? Like my early experiences setting up photovoltaic led into looking at other ventures—initiatives and partnerships in PV, tax credits and subsidies, financing of power purchase agreements, design patents and other research and development funding opportunities. Today, these initiatives are executed through various specialty entities and strategic partners—Honolulu Roofing, Greenpath Technologies Hawaii, Allied Pacific Builders HI, Allied Pacific Builders Guam, CRW Philippines Inc., Energy Solutions International and EnRG Hawaii.

BIH: What benefits does working with these companies as strategic partners offer from an operational and customer service standpoint?

Akasaki: If you look at these different companies, what we’re doing is basically to be a unified team of professionals, to apply our experi•ence and talents, to be on the cutting edge of construction or the technology of the field we’re in and to exceed our clients’ expectations. Like with Greenpath, they do PV, they needed “We saw the opportunity to exceed client expectations with both roof and PV included under one warranty. Because we know both sides well, we can create a total turnkey—one point of accountability.” Then, because they were doing the PV work, and we were doing the roofing—they know the PV, we know the roofing. We even did some of the PV. Whereas in the industry, everybody’s always pointing fingers. The PV guy says, ‘I’m not responsible for the roofing.’ The roofer says, ‘You know what, we didn’t put the PV on top, we’re not responsible.’ We saw the opportunity to exceed client expectations with both roof and PV included under one warranty. Because we know both sides well, we can create a total turnkey—one point of accountability.

BIH: CRW and its partners have a reputation for being in the vanguard of roofing and PV technology. What’s currently in the works?

Akasaki: Greenpath is doing research and development into non-glass folding PV modules. These are portable lightweight PV modules and are manufactured to military-grade resilience by Greenpath in Kakaako. Greenpath has a patent on the modules. The company also makes portable solar equipment that provides power in the field without generators or other fossil fuel-based sources. This equipment is targeted for Department of Defense military and emergency response markets.

BIH: What types of roofing installations do you think will become dominant in Hawaii in the next five years?

Akasaki: High performance coatings will take the lead in the future. Many coatings claim that, ‘we answer all of your problems.’ But sometimes coatings are not the answer. Elastomeric coatings will take a predominant role because of their sustainability and ease of application as long as roofers understand how performance and formulations work together. Higher performance coatings, like clothing, must hit a certain baseline formulation in order to be ‘quality.’ Above and beyond that baseline, certain features can be added—for elasticity, quick-drying and so forth. Quality formulations and performance addi•tives deliver some of the best values and reliability for the long term.

BIH: It’s been reported that your back•ground is in architecture. What Hawaii building do you find most interesting from a design standpoint?

Akasaki: My favorite building? The one I think is cool is Harbor Court. But when you get up on the roof, you’re up 40-something stories. There’s no protection, there’s no railing. You have to be pretty much on your guard because you have safety issues. At that height, you have wind, uplift, you have capillary action, negative pressure—there’s so many things that you have to incorporate. The curvature for the nice bay windows are a nightmare to waterproof, too. So those we modified into what they call a modified Sarnafil membrane of PVC material. It looks like metal, but it doesn’t have the inherent characteristics of being able to corrode, or anchors and joints. Because this is PVC, it’s a weatherproof material. But because it has ribs that can be welded on, it looks like metal. It’s pretty cool.

BIH: In taking your original operation to its current level, what was the biggest hurdle you and your company had to overcome?

Akasaki: The biggest hurdle wasn’t so much the money side, it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t touch the customers. The biggest hurdle was really me. And when I say it was me, it was more the struggle with commitment, integrity and honesty. Because at the end of the day, it would have been so easy for me to have accepted those jobs. And I would have been off and running. And would I still be here today? I probably would be. But the difference would be, I would just be a roofer.

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2013 Founders & Visionaries Series, Hawaii Business Magazine


When Guy Akasaki started Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii (CRW) in 1993 with a 3-man crew, he strived to be the island’s leader for new roofs and repairs for Hawaii’s commercial buildings. 20 years later, the roofing industry has undergone drastic changes with technologically-advanced roofing applications and environmental initiatives that step beyond simply keeping out the elements. Through Akasaki’s foresight and determination, CRW was able to develop a comprehensive energy solution for their customers with a holistic approach to pre-positioned roofing assemblies and photovoltaic systems that transform roofs into an additional floor of income.

“I think what makes CRW different is that we stick very closely to the core values articulated in our mission statement to be a unified team, taking our experience and expertise to be on the cutting edge of our construction technology and in the end – exceeding our client’s expectations,” said Akasaki. With the convergence of roofing and energy technologies, Akasaki quickly identified the merging of ‘known’ and ‘new’ technologies that inevitably exposed a gap in the integration and developed a working model that provided an accountable solution to renewable energy tax credits and subsidies, asset valuation, long-term warranty assurances and cost accounting strategies.

With 80+ of employees and headquarters in Waipahu powered 100% from renewable energy, CRW doesn’t take their 2013 Roofing Contractors Association of Hawaii Awards, Inc. 5000 designation, and other accolades for granted. CRW actively initiates the intimate profit, expense, and growth process for their clients, earning nearly 20% of Hawaii’s roofing industry in 2012.

With satellite offices in Guam and the Philippines, Akasaki has more than one roof covering his head. His extended grasp includes strategic partnerships with Allied Pacific Builders in Hawaii and Guam, SESR for composite building systems and Honolulu Roofing. His strong belief in sustainable initiatives led to strategic alliances with SunForce Solutions and Greenpath Technologies, a leading NHO 8(a) energy firm who opened Hawaii’s only non-glass PV facility for product development and low-threshold manufacturing of portable power solutions to support commercial markets, U.S. military, and HADR resilience and sustainability initiatives locally and globally.

“As I reflect on how we reached our 20th anniversary, I’m grateful for our committed team, and the relationships developed over the years. Nobody thought that 20 years ago – roofing would have had its divergent reaches, and looking forward – we will continue provide our customers with the very best in professional resources, skill and product – all with a personal touch!

Watch the Video segment that was aired on the Founders & Visionaries Series earlier this year in June on KHON2.

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Rooftop Evolution: The Convergence of Roofing and Energy Technologies, Taking A Look At the Possibilities & Contingent Liabilities

Original article published by Building Management Hawaii (Feb/Mar 2012 Issue) view the full article here.

Taking a look at the possibilities and contingent liabilities.

By Guy Akasaki, Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii, Inc.

The convergence of “known” technologies and “new” technologies always exposes a gap in the process of developing a working model for the ideal integration of the two.  In most cases, the individual components of a system do not fail – it’s the integration point that is often the weak link.  With PV going strong in Hawaii, the successful strategy of waving the bright shiny object of tax credits for PV lures us in but many still are unsure on how to best capitalize on it and more importantly – how to incorporate a full turnkey solution at the front-end built to stand after the credits are captured and accelerated depreciation is claimed.  Make an informed decision that captures savings alongside long-term sustainability by taking a holistic approach to integrating sustainable building applications.

There are an array of roof top solutions that will deliver the most benefit to your building by addressing all related facets – possible energy savings, financial feasibility, existing roof condition, and hedging against potential litigation related to roof integrated energy solutions.  Whether you are a building owner/investor or a property manager/AOAO board member – below are some industry best practice considerations to keep in mind as you navigate towards implementing energy efficient solutions from the rooftop that work best for you. Your roof is critical to the operation of your building, and any interruption to that operation can be disastrous.

No Two Roofs Are Alike.

Not every building may be a best candidate to host a rooftop photovoltaic system.  However, there are other roofing integrated solutions available to help minimize the overall operating costs such as cool roofs, solar reflective shingles, BIPV and solar shingles, day-lighting, attic insulation, roof vents and attic fans to name a few.  Cool roofs can reduce the temperature at the surface of the roof from +/- 170 degrees to ambient in many cases and could reflect in a temperature difference at the ceiling inside of 10 to 15 degrees.  Again, the formulation of the cool roof coating is incredibly important to long-term performance.  In an air-conditioned space the potential savings through energy efficient applications can be substantial.  Consider a cool roofing assembly combined with fiberglass R-20 insulation batt over the roof rafter that could add another 10-20% reduction in heat radiation.  With the advent of nanotechnology, UV and infrared particulates have been incorporated in asphalt shingles and color pigments offering a capability of generating 35% plus solar reflectivity.  These are a few of the energy efficient approaches available for the rooftop.

What are my options to lower the energy costs of my building from the rooftop?

Take a look at your building from the top down to get a good idea of what options you have to reduce energy demands.  Selecting the best roofing system for the type of business operating below it is huge!  A cold storage warehouse is going to have a different energy demand from that of an observational facility that prefers natural sunlight.  A single-family home in a community association will have a different energy demand from that of a 50-story condominium.  Matching the optimal roofing system to the function within the building is key to maximizing an investment in a new roofing system.

If I am looking into installing a rooftop photovoltaic system for my building – what should I be aware of regarding the existing roof?

Special care is needed in the design, manufacture and installation of the roof assembly and the integration of the roof-mounted PV system to ensure all components work together to create a roof assembly that not only produces electricity but also is weatherproof and reliable.  Keep in mind, components generally don’t fail – but it is the systems integration of components in the assemblies that fail. Lack of attention to details can result in big leaks and big headaches later.  General considerations that the NRCA has pin-pointed include load (which generally requires a professional structural engineer), drainage, affect on the rate of aging of the roof, roof surface temperatures, rooftop traffic, site orientation (shade), warranties and equivalent service life.  Also important is making sure that the manufacturer’s requirements for the roofing system are met so that the warranty is not voided.  A typical PV installation can include anywhere from dozens to hundreds of penetrations to the roofing system – every penetration requires a specific type of flashing to ensure a sound waterproof platform for a power generating array.  Keep in mind that there are many roofing types of various formulations and nomenclatures.  Materials compatibility are concerns for high consideration due to the advent of technology which has increased performance life expectancies.  One cannot under emphasize the continuity of the manufacturer warranty, which is in many cases worded to protect the manufacturer of the roofing assembly.  As a side comment, there are an elite amount of roofing manufacturers which will support a systems warranty if property disclosure and pre-job information is provided in compatibility with PV systems.  Keep in mind, when a system NDL warranty is acquired – the customer is backed by manufacturers with strong financials to be able to weather the ups and downs of the economy to support the warranty.

How does investing in clean energy actually pay back?

Commercial development of renewable energy and energy efficiency is critical to Hawaii’s energy future.   Building owners can hedge themselves against rising energy costs and can provide additional streams of income to their bottom line.   From a holistic perspective, the valuation of real estate as an income-producing asset is determined by the income it generates.  What is the one floor on any building that generates no income?  It’s the roof.  By installing a photovoltaic system on a building’s roof, it now becomes a distributed energy generating facility that is now capable of generating additional income – which was not possible before the array was installed.  What does an additional stream of income do to the asset?  It raises the valuation of the asset.

As an example, given the net present value of money in regards to fair market values (FMV), one might consider that with many oil sources half peaking which represents a higher cost of oil and the price of oil rising not only because of demand, it will make the distributed energy generating facility a very important component of real estate especially if it is a sizable array.  Imagine what the present value of the energy sold to tenants 20 years hence?

If an AOAO is considering PV for their buildings, what should they be aware of?

If an AOAO wants to use PV to reduce their overall energy consumption, they need to consider that the common area of the roof needs to be bifurcated equally to all owners.  The installation guidelines for PV in accordance with the common area roofing installation should be executed so as not to void the warranty.  The association may want to consider limiting PV installers or developing a standard for installation guidelines to allow for consistency in common area elements.  So as one can see, it needs to be a well thought out plan.

At the end of the day, what you don’t want is a cheap poorly executed excuse of a roof that will probably cost you more in long-term repairs and/or re-roof prematurely.    What you do want is a fully integrated roofing assembly (capable of being integrated with PV if intended) that delivers a cost-effective, energy-efficient solution with a maximum return on investment.   Imagine how seamless it would be to have everything dovetailed into one warranty with one point of accountability.  You don’t have to look to far – you just have to look carefully.  While few and far between, there are indeed a few contractors that can deliver a fully turnkey solution.  Remember, in most cases the individual components typically don’t fail.  It is the systems integration to perform over the long haul that causes the ruckus.

Guy Akasaki is President & CEO of Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii, Inc., a full-service roofing and waterproofing contractor a.k.a. “crook, liar & thief.”


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