The last roof you’ll ever need

Nothing puts a damper on the holidays like having Santa and his reindeer come crashing through the worn and rotting roof of your house on Christmas Eve. That’s a clatter that will have you and the neighbours rushing to see what’s the matter.

For the last 4 years, Joe Malec and his team of roofers at London Eco-Roof have been replacing traditional shingled roofs with tough, durable and attractive steel and aluminum roofs. Fully guaranteed for 50 years – no matter how many people own the house during that time – metal roofs are vastly superior to traditional asphalt shingles in every way.

“People are tired of buying shingles rated for 20 or 35 years and being right back in the same place, needing to replace them, 7 or 12 years later,” says Malec. “Fifty per cent of the roofs we replace are leaking. It’s not just that water gets into the house, but it gets the insulation wet and eventually develops into mould. Once you have that, it’s very expansive to get rid of, and most people don’t even know they are breathing it every day.”

“Shingles just don’t stand up to the weather, “ he says. “We get hotter weather in the summer now and stronger storms year-round. Shingles just don’t last in that harsh environment, and that’s why so many people are switching to metal roofs.”

When steel roofs first were available, there were a bit like Model T Fords. You could have any colour so long as it was black. Today, London Eco-Roof offers 17 colours, some in steel and some in aluminum.  New for 2013 is Nova, a copper/gold aluminum colour that is already attracting orders.

“The range of colours is amazing, “ Malec says. “People think about the colour of their roofs now the same way they consider the colour of their front door or siding. It’s a design element of their home.”

Earlier this year, the company opened a showroom at 1682 Dundas St. Homeowners can go and see all the colours displayed to get an accurate idea of what their roofs might look like.

When Malec created the business, his goal was to provide steel roofs at an affordable cost, a price point that would make steel roofs a legitimate alternative for homeowners who normally would opt for asphalt shingles. Steel does cost a bit more than shingles, although over the course of their lifetime, they are much less expensive given how long they last.

Prices start at $4.80/square foot. London Eco-Roof has an exclusive arrangement with the TD Bank to provide “top secret savings,” as Malec likes to say. “We can help people get the financing they need to do their roof. That’s not a problem.”

In the last six years, Malec and his team have installed hundreds of roofs in and around London. Every roof they do serves as a referral because neighbours are always interested in what’s happening next door, how they can save over time on their own roofs.

“Word of mouth has been terrific for us, “ Malec says. “I want to thank all of our customers for telling their friends about us. We truly appreciate it and will continue providing the best products and service in London.”

Published in the London Free Press, Enterprise section on December 10, 2012

The Five E’s

Although precise definitions still are evolving, HPR protective umbrellas share five important characteristics that make them energy efficient, environmentally friendly, cost effective, leak proof, reliable and long-lasting. Think of them as the “Five E’s.”

  • Endurance: HPR systems must meet or exceed traditional performance standards in terms of longevity, all-weather reliability, water absorption, wind and fire resistance, low maintenance and simple repair. No matter how cool a roof is, it still has to protect the building in all types of weather.
  • Economics: HPR systems must be cost effective based on initial cost and, more importantly, life-cycle cost. Roof systems must make economic sense to building owners and managers before they will become widely accepted.
  • Energy: HPR systems help reduce energy consumption and improve the energy efficiency of the building envelope. This is a primary benefit of cool roofing and a critical aspect of sustainability.
  • Environment: HPR systems help reduce the overall impact on the external environment while creating and maintaining a healthy productive indoor environment. This is the primary objective of sustainable roofing, which also focuses on energy efficiency and endurance.
  • Engineering: Smart engineering and design are the great enablers of HPR systems and the other E’s. Engineering impacts everything from intelligent design and installation to life-cycle costs and long-term performance in all weather conditions.

Meeting HPR

There are several key questions to ask roofing contractors and/or manufacturer’s represent- atives to determine whether a roof system is high performance. The following should be asked to ensure your prospective roof system meets each of the five E’s:


1. What is the range of durability for this type of roof system?
The durability of roof systems varies widely depending on the manufacturer, competence of the roofing contractor, climate and other factors. This is why roofing expert Carl Cash, principal of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Waltham, Mass., suggests building owners consider the durability range of various systems – a better indication of how long the best roof systems in each category can be expected to last. For more information, read Cash’s book, Roofing Failures.

2. In terms of maintenance and repair, how often, how much and how easy?
Every year of useful service free of major maintenance and repair work reduces the life-cycle cost of any roof. Be sure to ask about a roof system’s recommended annual maintenance procedures and costs.

3. How long and how good is the warranty?
Warranties reveal many strengths and weaknesses. Small print and exclusions can highlight potential problem areas, such as ponding water, consequential damages and repair/replacement procedures in case of failure. Don’t be fooled by the length of a warranty; read the fine print for hidden costs and exclusions.


1. Is a life-cycle cost analysis available that includes all installation costs, estimated maintenance/repair costs and potential energy savings during the life of the roof? In 2004 a 20-year life-cycle-cost comparison was prepared by independent Midwest roofing contractors; the study was sponsored by Duro-Last Roofing Inc., Saginaw, Mich. It compared the life-cycle costs of a reflective polyvinylchloride single-ply with the averages for a black ethylene propylene diene terpolymer and built-up roof system for a fully warranted, 50,000-square-foot reroof in the Midwest.

Software programs, how-to books and guidelines are available to assist in completing life-cycle cost analyses for commercial roof systems. Building owners also should ask their roofing contractors to provide an analysis for each system under consideration. Many manufacturers currently provide this information.


1. Does the roof meet criteria set by EPA’s Energy Star Reflective Roof Products Program?
Visit prods.pr_roof_products to determine whether a roof system you’re considering is listed. If it isn’t there, the roof material probably does not meet the Energy Star minimum standard that requires low-slope roof products to have an initial reflectance of at least 65 percent and a reflectance of at least 50 percent after three years of weathering. You also can use EPA’s online calculator ( to determine potential energy savings for your building. An energy-efficient building using an HPR system is a step toward mitigating the urban-heat-island effect.

2. Does the roof meet ASHRAE Standard 90.1?
If it does, you may be eligible for tax deductions. If it doesn’t, it isn’t an HPR system.

3. Does the roof earn points toward USGBC LEED credits?
A building can receive one point toward LEED certification if its roof system meets the standards under Sustainable Sites Credit 7.2 – Heat Island Effect: Roof. A combination of design characteristics, including roofs, can earn points in several credit categories, including Stormwater Management, Minimum Energy Performance, Renewable Energy and Construction Waste Management.

4. Is a roof tear off required?
Certain lightweight HPR systems can be installed – fully warranted – directly over the existing roof to reduce installation and disposal costs while slowing the rate of landfill buildup.

5. Is the roofing material recyclable?
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., recently estimated 9 to 10 million tons (8 to 9 million metric tons) of nonrecyclable roofing waste is sent to U.S. landfills every year.

6. Does the roof system help create a comfortable, healthy, productive environment inside buildings?
IAQ is an increasingly important issue regarding health and improved productivity of building occupants. Cool, vegetated and, perhaps, solar-integrated HPR systems moderate indoor temperatures even in buildings without air conditioning. Vented roof systems can help reduce moisture and mold while relieving positive air pressure, allowing buildings to “breathe.”


1. Is this a fully integrated roof system that provides watertight performance while enhancing the performance of other building components?
A high-performance building is a complete system that includes electrical, flooring, HVAC, roofing, doors, windows, insulation and other interactive components. Likewise, a high-performance roof is a fully integrated system that protects the building from the elements and actually enhances the performance of other building components, such as thermal insulation and the HVAC system. Check the warranty to ensure the entire roof system is covered.

2. Does the manufacturer use premium components and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to enhance energy, environmental, endurance and economic performances?
Specification of premium materials enhances a wide range of performance criteria, including reflectivity, emittance, ultraviolet radiation resistance, water resistance, fire and wind resistance, tensile strength, thermal expansion and dynamic puncture resistance. Environmental performance is enhanced by incorporating materials that are recyclable and reduce the total embedded energy index and by using closed-loop manufacturing processes that minimize waste and toxic emissions.

3. Is this a custom prefabricated roof system?
Prefabricated roof systems designed to fit each roof reduce installation time and labor costs, virtually eliminate roof membrane scrap, and minimize job- site errors by producing seams and other critical components under quality-controlled factory conditions.

Originally published on Kelly Roofing website.
(currently not available online)

Asphalt Shingles Manufacturing & Waste Management in the Northeast Fact Sheet

Asphalt Shingle Waste

Approximately 11 million tons of asphalt shingle wast is generated in the U.S. each year. This waste is comprised of approximately one million tons of scraps from asphalt single manufacturers, and ten million of construction scraps from installations and tear-offs from re-roofing.

Download / View Full PDF Fact Sheet, Revised March 2012

Published by NERC | Northeast Recycling Council


Recycling asphalt shingles

Discarded roofing material gets second life in new applications

Paul Stastny

Nobody likes to see waste, especially not when there appears to be so many options for the reuse of asphalt shingles. Shredded asphalt shingles can be used in gravel road dust suppression, hot patch road repairs, as an admixture to asphalt and cement, as shredded material mixed with aggregate suitable for building up roads or multi-use nature trails, or as fuel for cement kilns and electricity generation.

Yet about 1.25 million tonnes of asphalt-based roofing materials are discarded annually in Canada. In the United States, the number is between six and nine million tonnes, according to Athena Sustainable Materials Institute’s briefing paper, Enhanced Recovery of Roofing Materials. Almost all of it is dumped in municipal and private construction and demolition landfills across North America. And these possibilities are not just hypothetical. To a limited extent, asphalt shingles across North America are already being reused in many of these applications.

“It’s not a new idea. Asphalt shingles are being recovered to some degree in Nova Scotia, and it’s being done in several locations in the United States,” says Randal Goodfellow of Goodfellow Agricola Consultants Inc.

The company prepared a report on behalf of the Canadian Construction Innovation Council and Natural Resources Canada, titled Enhancing the Recovery of End-of-Life Roofing Materials: An Implementation Plan. A key driver in developing this plan was a multi-stakeholder workshop held in Toronto on Feb. 19 and 20, 2007, where experts from across Canada and the United States converged to look at options for environmentally sound recycling of asphalt roofing materials.

“We wanted to bring the shingle manufactures together with the environmentalists, landfill operators, the contractors, policymakers and say look, ‘How do we move forward and so that nobody is terribly disadvantaged?’” Goodfellow explains. One of the core messages to come out of this conference was that any regulation around end-of-life shingles could not disadvantage any of the stakeholders. If, for example, additional requirements for asphalt shingle disposal drive up the front-end cost of shingle manufacturing, the roofing market may shift towards the use of metal roofs, which of course would meet with strong opposition by asphalt shingle manufacturers.

But it is hard to envision regulations that won’t negatively impact one party while benefiting another. Free markets don’t always work in the interests of the public good, and the drivers to enhancing end-of-life roofing materials recovery are compelling. According to the implementation plan, the top three drivers are: the large and growing volume of construction waste currently being dumped, the potential benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the increasingly limited availability of landfill space.

In built-up areas of the United States, where landfill costs have skyrocketed over the decades, simple market forces have already spawned some level of asphalt shingle reuse. Parts of New England, according to waste management consultant Dan Krivit of Dan Krivit and Associates Inc., have a 15-year history of tear-off shingle recycling.

“There are pockets elsewhere in the country, but as far as the single most prevalent region, it’s New England,” he says. The end-use for New England’s shingles is primarily in aggregate. In other places such as Nova Scotia, progressive waste management practices have been an outcome of government incentives and regulations. Even though Nova Scotia hasn’t banned asphalt shingles from either its private or municipal landfills, it has created incentives that compensate construction and demolition processors for diverting materials from its municipal landfills. This is but one component in an elaborate waste management strategy, which includes a ban on dumping food wastes along with a dozen other materials from Nova Scotia’s municipal landfills. As a result, that province has the lowest per-capita disposal rate in the country—some 44 per cent lower than the Canadian average and about 60 per cent below Alberta’s average of 960 kg per person.

“Shingles are still dumped into our private landfills,” says Bob Kenney, solid waste resource analyst of Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment and Labour. “But the municipal landfills operate within a diversion credit program we have in place.” This program is geared to business sector waste, construction and demolition waste, as well as residential waste. For every tonne the municipality diverts from landfill, it gets about $20–$22 from the provincial Resource Recovery Fund. Shredded end-of-life asphalt shingles in Nova Scotia are currently being used in landfill road amendment and dust control as landfill cover (although this use is waning as more valuable uses replace it). It is mixed with gravel for use on multi-use trails.

“These trails are not only for people walking and biking, but for ATVs as well,” Kenney explains. The composition of the topping mixture is 75 per cent shredded shingles and 25 per cent gravel. In some cases, 50-50 per cent mixtures are used. But the most innovative and promising end-use has been pioneered by a Halifax-based construction and demolition materials processor, Halifax C&D Recycling Ltd., which shreds the shingles and screens them into grit and flake. It sells the sand to a local asphalt paving company and gives the flake—the fibre material covered in asphalt—to Lafarge as an alternative fuel for its Nova Scotia cement kiln.

“Asphalt shingles have a very high Btu value,” says Gerry Meade, executive director of the Canadian Construction Innovation Council. “They could also be used in the generation of electricity and other forms of power. But those options have not been pursued aggressively.”

Meade notes that the general public is easily alarmed by the word “incineration”—and particularly when the burning involves waste products. This is why the February asphalt shingle recycling conference included discussion of the development of a wide range of other uses. In Alberta, for example, Lafarge in Calgary and Edmonton both reuse shredded asphalt shingles as an admixture in its asphalt and concrete mixes.

Brent Middleton, manufacturing and operations manager with Lafarge, says the company has been doing this for about five years in Alberta and is currently accepting as much asphalt shingle as it needs for this purpose. “In using it in asphaltic concrete mixes, we’ve found it improves the durability and long-term performance of our products,” he says.

Less impressive, however, is the source. Lafarge gets its shingle material as a waste product from an asphalt shingle manufacturing line, which is a relatively common practice across North America.

“We’ve looked at using old shingles from houses, but there are some issues with contaminants, including nails and even asbestos, depending on the age of the shingles,” Middleton says. To get a place where old shingles see greater recovery and recycling will require building a bridge to span the economic advantages of simply dumping the material. Currently in Alberta and most of Canada, the cost to dump shingles is a fraction of the costs of recycling when all is factored in: collecting the materials, separating and sorting them, removing nails, investing into the equipment for shredding, and then transporting the product to appropriate markets. In turn, these markets need to also make investments in specialized incineration equipment or adapt current production methods to accommodate the reprocessed waste stream.

Even in Lafarge’s Alberta operations, the cement manufacturer is paid a tipping fee to take away the shingles. And even that fee, according to Middleton, doesn’t necessarily cover Lafarge’s capital and ongoing costs to process what are actually new and uncontaminated asphalt shingles from a manufacturing line—no sorting, removing of nails, and re-transporting required. Also considering the potential mountains of tear-off shingles, some end-users such as road builders have raised red flags. They worry that highways—which are precisely engineered structures—will become the dumping ground for rubber, glass, scrap concrete, asphalt, and other materials society no longer has any use for.

“What is needed to move this forward is to do the necessary pilot studies and demonstration projects to show that alternatives to landfilling are technically, economically, and environmentally viable,” Meade says. But he adds that ultimately, if the fee to dump asphalt shingles in landfills remains much lower than the cost of recovering that material, they will go into landfill. And even if one municipality says it will no longer accept asphalt materials, in the absence of unilateral regulations, the shingles will go into somebody else’s landfill. So without some form of government intervention, it is difficult to see much progress being made in the next three or four years most stakeholders give this initiative to sort out how best to deal with end-of-life asphalt shingles.

Given how unpopular governmental meddling in economic matters is these days, no one is holding their breath for an impressive outcome. But government intervention doesn’t always need to be intrusive, Krivit maintains.

“Regulation is just one of many initiatives. There are many voluntary approaches that can be used by the government short of mandates, regulations, and/or market subsidies,” he says. “Yes, government intervention will be needed,” he adds “but it will have to be a combination of government intervention as well as private entrepreneurs and companies stepping forward.”

As for most new markets to be developed, it sometimes takes this kind of private and public partnership to provide the spark for business development, job growth, and environmental protection. “If we want to find the means to the end, which may be diverting 100 per cent of tear-off shingles from landfills, then it may have to be a 5- or 10-year vision.”

Originally posted on Alberta Construction Magazine:

Roofing warranties

“Lifetime” shingles and other common myths

By Doug Kerr

Residential roof warranties can be confusing, and there is some basic information that homeowners need to know – and questions to ask a contractor – before committing to one of the largest renovation expenditures.

Warranties can be complex, as well as misleading. Installing “30-year shingles” on your roof does not necessarily mean your roof will be replaced or even repaired if there is a problem, even if something happens within as little as 10 years.

Once you understand how roofing warranties actually work, you won’t get caught up in a sales pitch about warranties and end up not receiving the coverage you believe you paid for.

There are two parts to the warranty: the materials warranty, which is supplied by the manufacturer, and the labour warranty, which is provided by the installation contractor.
Materials warranty

Most manufacturers only warranty the product, not the installation. This means that if their product does not perform as it is supposed to, and the manufacturer has determined that it was a materials defect and therefore covered by its warranty, it can do one of two things:

1. Replace the shingles: In this case, the manufacturer will back its truck up to your house and drop off new shingles. It will be up to you to install them. If you have chosen your roofing contractor well, and he is still in business 10 years after your roof was installed and he has given a long labour warranty, you may be able to convince him to come back and install the shingles at no charge to you.

2. Payout: Some manufacturers’ warranties don’t replace the shingles, but will pay you money instead. This sounds good until you discover that the amount is pro-rated, which means it decreases proportionally over time. The usual procedure is for the manufacturer to pay the full amount for five years and then prorate amounts after that. This means that if your 30-year roof fails in 15 years, the company may pay you 30 per cent of what you originally paid for the shingles. The price it pays out will probably not be adjusted for inflation.

Even “lifetime warranties” are pro-rated and may not be of much value in 15 to 20 years.

The last bit of bad news about warranties is that most are “performance-based,” which means the definition is based on whether the shingle stands up and performs the way it is supposed to perform. The majority of manufacturers base their warranties on “water infiltration.” So even if the shingle falls apart, the warranty does not apply. It only applies if there is a manufacturing defect and the roof leaks. This means that if all the granules or other protective coverage washes off your shingles, or if they curl and fade, but no water gets into the home, then you don’t have a valid warranty claim.
Labour warranty

Here are some key questions to ask your roofing contractor.

  • Does the contractor automatically give you a labour warranty in writing with the quote?
  • How long is the warranty for?
  • Does the warranty cover installing new shingles, if there is manufacturing defect?
  • Will the contractor come back in eight or 10 years and install new shingles at no cost to you, even if it is the manufacturer’s shingle that breaks down?

If the roofing contractor can’t answer these questions, it’s an indication that he or she probably don’t have a standard warranty policy.

You should, therefore, choose a roofing installation company that provides a labour warranty and choose a company you believe will likely to be in business at least 10 years from now.
Good news

There are excellent roofing contractors and some very good manufacturers’ warranties. Here are some suggestions to help you make the right decision.

  • Find out if the manufacturer’s warranty includes installation cost or just the cost of materials.
  • Determine if the warranty value is based on the original purchase price or on today’s replacement cost.
  • Find out if the materials warranty is performance-based or based only on water infiltration.

A performance-based warranty will provide more extensive protection.

Also, keep in mind that if the installers don’t install the roofing materials as per the manufacturer’s specifications, the manufacturer will void the materials warranty. Some sources for reliable roofing contractors include the Better Business Bureau, the Roofing Contractors Association of British Columbia and RenoMark renovators who are members of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association.

Doug Kerr is president of Absolute Roof Solutions and president of Kerr Construction Ltd. in Vancouver. He can be reached at

Originally published on Home Makeover, August 2009: