Scam targets consumers seeking solar roofs

A new home-improvement scam targets consumers who want to lower their energy bills with rooftop solar panels or windmills. Solar energy can reduce a home or building owner's electric bill, but the upfront investment is the equivalent of paying for 30 to 40 years of electricity in advance. Additionally, factors such as living where cloudy weather is common or living in the shadow of tall trees, terrain or nearby tall buildings can affect payback. Consumers unfamiliar with these factors are targets for scam artists.

Some scams persuade consumers to pay a large deposit to a contractor who then leaves town or never delivers the system or savings; consumers have lost several thousand dollars to this scam. According to the latest survey of consumer-protection agencies by the Consumer Federation of America and North American Consumer Protection Investigators, home-improvement companies are the third most complained about type of business.

Consumers can protect themselves by working only with licensed contractors specializing in solar rooftop installation; conducting an energy audit and obtaining bids from at least three companies; and checking Better Business Bureau ratings and references. Consumers should never pay the full price upfront or pay a deposit of more than $1,000 or 10 percent of the project price, whichever is less.

A list of roofing professionals who specialize in photovoltaic (PV) installation is available at Roof Integrated Solar Energy™ (RISE™) Inc.'s website, www.riseprofessional.org/find-a-csrp. RISE's Certified Solar Roofing Professional™ (CSRP™) designation is a voluntary certification for professionals who plan and oversee the installation of roof-mounted PV systems. The credential evaluates whether candidates have the underlying knowledge required to successfully install roof-mounted PV systems. For more information about RISE and the CSRP designation, go to www.riseprofessional.org or contact RISE at (800) 323-9545 or info@riseprofessional.org.

Additionally, NRCA offers Photovoltaic Roof Systems: Energizing Your Business, a one-day class in which participants learn how to properly design, install and maintain PV roof systems. The next class will be held Feb. 4, 2013, in conjunction with NRCA's 126th Annual Convention and the 2013 International Roofing Expo® in San Antonio. For more information about Photovoltaic Roof Systems: Energizing Your Business, go to shop.nrca.net or contact NRCA's Customer Service Department at (866) ASK-NRCA (275-6722) or info@nrca.net.

Senator visits NRCA member

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) visited NRCA member Commercial Roofers Inc., Las Vegas, Sept. 4. Heller met with Commercial Roofers' management team and Duane Musser, NRCA's vice president of government relations, to discuss several issues important to the roofing industry, including the need for regulatory reform and tax reform.

Dennis Conway, president of Commercial Roofers, thanked Heller for co-sponsoring legislation to reform the depreciation schedule for energy-efficient commercial roof systems. Heller also toured the company's facilities and spoke to about 100 employees and guests regarding his work in the Senate.

Occupational injury statistics released

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released its preliminary results Sept. 20. Findings show the number of fatal work injuries in 2011 was slightly less than final results from 2010. In 2011, 4,609 workers died from work-related injuries compared with a final count of 4,690 in 2010.

NRCA and CNA honor charitable works

NRCA and CNA, Chicago, are accepting nominations for the CNA/NRCA Community Involvement Award, which honors charitable works performed by NRCA contractor members during the past year.

NRCA contractor members that performed charitable works between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 may nominate their projects for the award. The winning company will receive $5,000 payable to its charity, and two honorable mentions will receive $1,000 each for their charities.

Projects nominated do not need to be roofing-related. They may, for example, include funds raised for a cause or volunteer work. Submissions should include an in-depth description of the charitable work, a testimonial from the receiving charity and supporting material, such as photos or videos. A panel of judges from NRCA and CNA will choose the winning company and honorable mentions.

The deadline for nominations is Nov. 30. Finalists will be notified by Dec. 14, and the awards will be presented Feb. 6, 2013, at NRCA's Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception during NRCA's 126th Annual Convention, which will be held in San Antonio Feb. 3-7.

For more information and to submit a nomination, contact Ambika Bailey, NRCA's senior director of communications, at (800) 323-9545, ext. 7555 or abailey@nrca.net.

NFPA adds trash chute requirements to fire code

The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA's) NFPA 1: Fire Code, 2012 Edition has added requirements for trash chutes in structures undergoing construction, alteration or demolition operations, including those in underground locations.

According to the code's Chapter 16—Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations, a trash chute safety plan should be submitted to and approved by the agency having jurisdiction. An approved safety plan should include requirements stating the main artery of the chute be as straight as practical to avoid accumulations or clogging within the chute, and trash chutes used on a building's exterior should be noncombustible. If a trash chute is combustible, the interior should be provided with at least one temporary automatic sprinkler within a recess near the top of the chute.

A temporary sprinkler or sprinklers are not required to comply with NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.

Where trash chutes are longer than 36 feet, intermittent levels of sprinkler protection should be provided at intervals not exceeding 36 feet. The use of fire-retardant coatings can be substituted for sprinkler protection provided the coating is compatible with the substrate, abrasion-resistant and approved by the agency having jurisdiction.

Noncombustible trash chutes tend to be more expensive than combustible trash chutes, and it is not clear how roofing contractors using combustible trash chutes will comply with the new requirements.

Roofing contractors can contact their local building code officials to see whether NFPA 1 is enforced in their jurisdictions and if so, coordinate how to comply with the requirements.

RoofPoint™ has completed its pilot stage

After completing a successful pilot program with more than 100 roofing projects, the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing has launched RoofPoint as a permanent sustainable rating program for the commercial (low-slope) roofing industry.

Serving as the roofing industry's answer to other whole-building and component-rating programs, RoofPoint brings together in a single guideline all the design, specification, installation and ongoing maintenance standards needed to ensure the procurement of long-lasting, environmentally responsible roof systems.

RoofPoint offers the following key features:

  • Fast and simple application. Compared with the paperwork required by whole-building rating systems such as LEED,® the RoofPoint application form is easy to understand and can be completed online.
  • New opportunities for customer recognition. By providing a formal roof certification program that documents environmental achievement, RoofPoint offers an opportunity to recognize customers for their involvement in sustainability. Contractors can recognize key people who help in the installation process by providing RoofPoint award plaques or certificates to facility managers or employees, for example.
  • A way to sell value. Contractors can use the RoofPoint guideline to show building owners critical energy and environmental features. Doing so can help owners understand the long-term consequences of overly aggressive cost-cutting.

RoofPoint also offers an online database of RoofPoint-certified projects. The database lists each project's key features and a detailed scoring matrix for all 24 RoofPoint credits. As the number of RoofPoint projects expands, this detailed performance matrix will become a valuable industry research tool allowing building scientists and market researchers to learn how specific products and strategies are emerging to make rooftops more energy-efficient and sustainable.

For more information about RoofPoint, go to www.roofpoint.org or contact the center at (202) 380-3371.


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