Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL hosts group seeking to improve roof construction

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 9, 1996 — Eighty people involved in the roofing construction industry across the United States and Canada learned about constructing more durable and energy efficient roofs during a two-day seminar at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

From 1986 to 1995, the insurance industry estimates hurricanes and high winds have accounted for 78 percent of catastrophic losses. Since 1989, estimated insured losses from hurricanes have averaged $10 billion per year. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused $16 billion in insured losses in South Florida. If the hurricane had taken a slightly more northerly track through downtown Miami, losses could have exceeded $50 billion.

DOE, ORNL and the roofing industry are addressing this issue by training teams to perform inspections of roof damage caused by hurricanes while recommending changes in codes and construction practices.

The seminar was part of a $900,000 cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between ORNL and the Roofing Industry Committee on Wind Issues (RICOWI), which includes all of the major roofing trade associations in North America.

This 24-month CRADA is jointly funded by DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office of Building Technology, state and communities sector programs and industry partners. Other tasks covered by this CRADA include the mobilization of field investigation teams to survey and report on roofing damage created by two major wind events, and to use this data to improve building codes, roof system design and to educate the industry and public.

The seminar involved training investigation teams that will go into areas where high winds of 95 mph or greater have caused structural damage to roofs. Data collected from these teams will be used to learn how those type roofs can be strengthened in the future to prevent such high-wind damage.

"Our expectations are to gain knowledge of high wind effects on buildings, how to look for damage and to record the data from that damage," said David Roodvoets of Westerville, Ohio, a coordinator of the event.

Andre Desjarlais of ORNL's Buildings Technology Center (BTC) said ORNL has been working with private industry for some time to accelerate the acceptance of more energy efficient and durable roofing systems.

"We want to increase energy savings and the life of roofing systems from what is now 10 years to as many as 30 years," Desjarlais said. "One of the major projects to be produced from this CRADA will be educational tools illustrating how to design and construct more durable and energy efficient roofs, and the serious consequences of falling short."

Desjarlais said CRADA participants want a greater understanding of how roofs withstand or fail high wind events.

"Hopefully this will lead to overall improvements in roof system durability," Desjarlais said. "We hope the 32-member field investigation team will be able to come up with information from the data they collect that will help reduce the waste generation from reroofing activities, reduce insurance claims for roof replacement and repair and lead to lower overall roofing costs for the public."

In addition, Desjarlais said data collected by the investigating teams will ultimately provide educational materials for roofing professionals to design wind-resistant roofing systems. The issue of whether insulation has an impact on roof survivability will also be studied.

Roodvoets said the first team may be sent to investigate storm damage in the United States as early as this fall if an intense storm occurs. Determination of storm intensity will be made by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp.