Environmentally Advanced Roofing System Tops Rohm and Haas Headquarters

Practicing what they preach has prompted specialty materials company Rohm and Haas to update the roof of their nine-story global headquarters with an advanced polymer elastomeric roof coating. The resulting energy savings and reported long life of the renovated 40,000 square foot roof are just part of the story.

Rohm and Haas has occupied the building at Sixth and Market streets since 1965, but over the past year, the company set out on a floor by floor renovation to revitalize their headquarters. The contemporary concrete, steel and glass building was designed by the late Pietro Belluschi, a leading world architect who served as dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning for 14 years, and has recently been granted Historic Landmark Building status. Topping the transformation taking shape inside the building is an innovative roofing system that will cover the current black rubber membrane roof with a crisp, white, highly protective and reflective roofing system.

"Elastomeric roof coatings are one of the main thrusts in our environmentally advanced portfolio," says Colin Gouveia, marketing director for Industrial and Construction, North America. "By helping to reduce the urban heat island effect by providing a cool, reflective surface, elastomeric coatings are a sustainable technology that demonstrates the way people need to think and act in regard to the environment. We are doing our part not only in providing these products to our customers, but also by applying them to our own buildings."

The city of Philadelphia is currently seeking to increase standards for new and replacement roofs above the current state building code. The new Rohm and Haas roof coating exceeds the current state regulations and would meet the proposed city regulations, should they be adopted.

"This is critically important for a number of reasons," says Liz Robinson, executive director of Energy Coordinating Agency, a non-profit organization that specializes in energy conservation, education programs and policy work. "Our summers have gotten warmer and warmer, and that poses a health risk to the elderly, in particular. By using this roof coating technology, we reduce the indoor air temperature as well as the urban heat island effect, reducing energy costs and slowing the pace of global warming by increasing the reflectivity of the earth's surface. It is a very simple concept, but a really powerful and fantastic technology."

According to Javier Banos, marketing manager for the company's elastomeric coatings division, the new elastomeric roof coating reflects a broad spectrum of UV, visible and infrared light and emits nearly 90 percent of any absorbed heat, all of which contribute to the degradation of traditional roofing materials. It also protects against expansion and contraction cracks in the roof, which lead to roof deterioration and leaks, because it is elastic and can bridge cracks that form as temperatures fluctuate. "The result is a cooler and longer-lasting roof, lower air temperatures and energy savings for the entire building," says Banos.

"The lower roof of our building is EPDM [ethylene propylene diene monomer], a thick, rubber membrane-type black roof, and the upper roof is a traditional built-up (asphalt) roof with a smooth APP Mod-Bit Capsheet," explains Lou Velez, P.E., Rohm and Haas building manager. "We are coating both surfaces with two thick coats of elastomeric product to prevent ultraviolet degradation. That coating also adds an extra layer of impermeable material, so water runs off readily and not into the building structure where it could cause damage."

Rohm and Haas expects significant energy savings between May and October, based on the way the building's air conditioning system is configured. "The air intakes are at roof level," explains Banos. "Currently, the system has to bring in the hottest air and work harder to cool it. By lowering the air temperature around the intakes, we will lower the amount of energy needed without having any effect on the comfort level of the occupants."

Not only does an elastomeric-coated roof save energy, but it reduces landfill waste and provides substantial savings in maintenance and replacement costs. Roof repair used to mean tearing off the aging roof and replacing it, but with proper maintenance, elastomeric-coated roofs can last much longer than traditional roofs. Such maintenance is limited to occasional cleaning with a hose or power washer and reapplication of the coating on average every 7 to 10 years.

The summer cooling offsets any heat gain by a black roof in winter more than tenfold, among other reasons because the potential for heat gain is so much lower during the winter when sunlight is much less intense than during the summer. The project will be completed by the end of October and will include monitoring devices that will enable Rohm and Haas to track energy savings.

"We occupy almost a whole block," says Banos. "That is significant. But any contribution is good. There are still a lot of black roofs around us. We are trying to make sure that we are doing what we can to lower our energy footprint." For more information about Elastomeric Roof Coatings, visit us at: http://www.rooftopics.com/


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