Earlier this year, SPRI—originally the Single Ply Roofing
Institute—celebrated its 25th anniversary. Its original
mission was to promote and advance the use of single-ply roof
systems, which it did so successfully that product promotion now is
of less importance to the organization than standards development
and technical programs.
We can go back a little further in the industry's history to
mark the real emergence of single-ply roof systems—to 1977
and the First International Conference on Roofing Technology held
in Gaithersburg, Md. There, the industry was made aware of the
technical and performance successes and potential of a new
generation of materials. We knew we'd need to learn a new language
of roofing—partly the language of chemistry (polymers, most
notably) and partly the language of application methods (who'd ever
heard of heat welding?).
Although a 30-year span during our industry's entire history is
the equivalent of the click of a nail gun, it's worthwhile to
consider what the advent of single-ply roofing has meant.
It brought new, substantial and credible material manufacturers
that saw market opportunities and gave building owners a new set of
roofing options. It enabled the industry to attract new workers who
could work with tapes and adhesives instead of mops
and kettles. And it set the stage for technological improvements
that include having reflective roof surfaces capable of
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