November 2011

Start with insulation

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Properly designing and installing an insulation layer is critical to a roof assembly's energy efficiency

by James R. Kirby, AIA
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Sustainability and energy efficiency are buzz words in the roofing industry. Highly reflective roof systems, vegetative coverings and roof-mounted photovoltaic systems are in the headlines every day. Although these sustainable and energy-efficient features are valid, they should be secondary to a properly installed insulation layer within a roof system.

NRCA continues to recommend proper design and installation of an insulation layer because an underinsulated building envelope is not energy-efficient. And from a building owner's perspective, installing high R-value roof insulation should be a priority for energy efficiency at the roof level. The roofing industry should continue to promote insulation and energy efficiency, as well as traditional methods of weatherproofing.

A proper design for an insulation layer is two or more layers of insulation with staggered and offset joints and a cover board layer to separate the primary thermal insulation layer from the membrane. Mechanical fasteners only should be used to secure the bottom layer(s) of insulation, not the top layer.

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