February 2005
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Roofing in Canada

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by Peter Kalinger
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The Canadian roofing industry, similar to that of the United States, has made significant progress in the design and construction of roof systems during the past few decades, resulting in the general consensus that most roof systems are performing satisfactorily. Although new roofing products and systems are being introduced more rapidly than ever before, the Canadian roofing industry has managed to avoid many of the grave errors that plagued the industry in the past and resulted in widespread failures and consumer dissatisfaction. Extensive research in the field of building envelope science, dissemination of technical information about roof system performance, and widespread practice of roof system construction monitoring and inspections have led to a better understanding among contractors and designers about the fundamental requirements of satisfactory roof system performance.

Whether by design or happenstance, the Canadian roofing industry is installing better roof systems now than just a few decades ago. Consequently, technical performance, though still critical in terms of the service roof systems provide, no longer is driving the industry. Technical performance as the engine of change has been replaced by larger environmental, social, and health and safety issues. This is not to say technical performance and environmental concerns are mutually exclusive and unrelated. It simply means environmental, health and safety aspects of roofing have been integrated into the definition of the minimum acceptable level of performance.

Canadian consumers increasingly are insisting roofing contractors demonstrate "eco-efficiency." They demand competitively priced roof systems that satisfy the human needs of comfort and reliability and bring quality of life while progressively reducing environmental effects and resource intensity. The profusion of "green" roofing products and practices attests to the predominance of environmental and social concerns in the industry.

For example, Canada recently ratified its Kyoto Treaty commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because buildings account for 30 percent of Canada's energy use and 27 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, ways of incorporating innovative energy efficiency in building design are being sought to meet Canada's greenhouse gas reduction target. In addition, with the recent adoption of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® Green Building Rating System in Canada, the roofing industry also is becoming more aware of sustainable building design and construction and looking into innovative options, such as green...



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