Roofing Inventory Assesses Conditions, Repair Needs

By Chris Matt, Managing Editor - Print & E-Media  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Roofing: District Revamps Preventive Maintenance ProgramPt. 3: New Roofs Must Withstand Solar Arrays

The headline was as damning as it was accurate. "Study: Scottsdale School Roofs Failing," blared a local newspaper from June 2008.

Below the headline was a photo of John Muir, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Unified School District's director of building services, standing on one of the worst roofs in the district — a system that, similar to many others at that time, desperately needed replacement.

Maintenance and engineering managers who find themselves in that situation tend to react in two distinct ways. Some go on the defensive, blaming a lack of funds and a tough economic climate as causes for the disrepair. Others acknowledge the problems and vow to turn things around.

Muir, superintendent Dr. David Peterson, and the district's energy management supervisor, Jordan Hall — who all inherited the roofing problems after joining the district around 2005 — decided to face the issues and make no excuses. The newspaper article listed 12 roofs that required immediate attention, and the district has since repaired or replaced those systems, among others.

The district is installing solar arrays on its new roofs, and it has implemented a comprehensive preventive maintenance (PM) program to extend the life of existing systems and ensure new systems perform as expected.

"We've addressed everything in the article, and we're not done," Muir says.

Inventory Insights

The first step in implementing the strategy team members referred to as "triage for roofs" was simply walking the systems and assessing their conditions. Along with the roofing contractor, Muir, Hall, and Peterson walked the roofs to better understand the commitment, both monetary and personnel-wise, the situation required. The fact that Peterson joined building services staff in the early stages of this extensive project was a sign of the top-down commitment the district was prepared to make.

"The first thing we did was take physical inventory of each of the roofs that we have," Muir says. "We're a very old school district, so we had so many different roof systems. We got with (our contractor) and did an inventory. They went out and looked at each of our roofs and gave us a very detailed, 5- to 10-year plan. Some of the roofs were newer, so they gave us a quote on how to maintain these roofs."

The inventory revealed that many schools featured worn-out, single-ply, ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) systems that had not been maintained effectively and were past the end of their useful lives. Many of the roofs were full of foam applied in an effort to stop leaks, but the remedies were ineffective.

"Our mission and objective is to provide a clean and safe environment that is conducive to learning," Muir says. "Having a roof system that leaks, you have potential for mold. You have ceiling tiles that are wet. It detracts from the look of the classroom, and you have more potential problems from a roof leak."

Muir and his team also discovered troubling signs related to the way previous management approached roofing maintenance. Workers had left old equipment, sharp screws that could damage the membrane, and other debris on roofs. The team even found holes in parapet walls that workers created to use as footholds when going up to the rooftops.

After assessing these issues, Muir understood that a revamped roofing program went beyond repair and replacement. He needed to change the culture and the way the district had been approaching roofing projects and maintenance.

"One of the biggest things is the strategic alliances you have," Muir says of working with a trusted contractor and other stakeholders in the roofing program. "But then it was educating my people and changing the culture and the mindset for preventive maintenance. They had to get up on the roof, and we made it mandatory."

Continue Reading: Roofing: District Earns Passing Grade

Roofing Inventory Assesses Conditions, Repair Needs

Roofing: District Revamps Preventive Maintenance Program

New Roofs Must Withstand Solar Arrays

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  posted on 8/22/2011   Article Use Policy

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