Sustainability and roofing: its time has arrived

In spring 1995, a group of roofing professionals from around the world with expertise in roof system design, roofing forensics, material manufacturing and material research convened in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss an emerging idea within the roofing community—sustainability.

These roofing experts, who either are members of the CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building Construction) Working Commission W.83 or RILEM (International Union of Testing and Research Laboratories for Materials and Structures) Technical Committee 166RMS, met as part of a five-year task group to determine the state-of-the-art design, application and maintenance of sustainable low-slope membrane roof systems. Their committee work was titled "Towards Sustainable Roofing."

The committee members believed there was a growing interest in sustainability and enlightened building owners and roof system designers were interested in adopting roof systems that fit within environmental parameters. On a universal model, the parameters vary among regions, countries and nations. The roofing industry's challenge is to translate this interest and good will into practical guidelines that lead to improvements in the long-term performance of roof systems—within a given financial budget.