Terminally ill man awarded $3m for asbestos exposure while renovating

James Hardie ordered to compensate Matthew Werfel, 42, who inadvertently sanded asbestos sheets at his home in the mid-2000s

rawpixel / Pixabay
 Father of three, Matthew Werfel has been awarded $3m after James Hardie, now Amaca, was found to have failed to warn the public about the dangers of asbestos. Photograph: Supplied

A terminally ill South Australian man has been awarded a record $3m payout after he was exposed to asbestos dust, including while renovating his home.

Matthew Werfel, 42, will receive $3,077,187 – the largest amount ever awarded to an asbestos victim in Australia – after the building materials company James Hardie was found to have failed to warn the public about risks posed by their cement products.

Lawyers for Werfel lodged a claim against James Hardie – now known as Amaca – in the South Australian employment tribunal seeking damages after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017.

Werfel had been exposed to asbestos dust while working for a fencing contractor as a teenager and later in the mid-2000s during renovations on his Pooraka home.

Over three or four weekends, he sanded and painted the home, unaware it was constructed from asbestos cement sheets.

“By the time of Mr Werfel’s exposure there can be no doubt that Amaca knew the risk that was posed to renovators,” Judge Leonie Farrell said in her judgment on Tuesday.

In addition to awarding compensation for pain and suffering, future economic loss, medical expenses and loss of life expectancy, Farrell imposed exemplary damages on the company, as a deterrent to other firms.

“Amaca breached its duty of care to a large class of Australians, of which Mr Werfel was a member,” Farrell said.

“The magnitude of the risk of members of this class contracting mesothelioma was vast. The consequences of the risk were the deaths of many Australians. The probability of the risk occurring was certain.

“It had occurred in the past and the numbers were increased to the knowledge of Amaca. Amaca had the resources with which it could and should have taken steps to minimise or obviate the risk of death in this class.”

Werfel welcomed the payout but feared many home renovators were still exposed to the dangerous fibre.

“On the one hand, this outcome is a great relief, knowing that my family will be taken care of,” he said in a statement.

“But it’s heartbreaking to think how many people continue to be exposed, without their knowledge, to asbestos in their homes and workplaces.”

His lawyer Annie Hoffman said the case had significant implications for people exposed to asbestos in their homes, workplaces and in the community.

She said the case confirmed James Hardie’s duty of care continues even decades later.

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Britain’s death toll from asbestos at crisis level, figures reveal

The death toll from asbestos exposure has reached crisis levels in Britain, the Guardian has learned, as people pay the price for “criminal failings by industry and government” made decades ago.

Asbestos-related cancers can occur as many as 50 years after exposure and deaths are now thought to be reaching their peak, years after the widespread industrial use of the carcinogen between the 1950s and 70s.

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released this week, in 2017 there were 2,523 deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the organs caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. This is a similar number to the previous five years.

Rates of mesothelioma, which is almost always fatal, nearly doubled between 1995, when there were 1,317 cases, and 2017. More than half of deaths from mesothelioma were people over 75 and 82% were men.

It is estimated that a similar number of people die from asbestos-related lung cancers, but this cannot be so accurately measured as establishing a cause for lung cancer is more difficult.

The HSE predicts that annual numbers will continue at current levels for the rest of this decade before starting to decline, though it has previously anticipated earlier falls.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, was widely used in the UK as insulation and a fire retardant. The import and use of blue and brown asbestos was banned in 1985, while white asbestos, which is thought to be less dangerous, was banned in 1999.

Deaths from mesothelioma are high among people who worked in the shipbuilding and construction industries – especially carpenters, plumbers and electricians – as well as those who worked in factories that produced asbestos products.

Roger Maddocks, a partner with the law firm Irwin Mitchell LLP who specialises in workplace injuries and illness, said: “In many cases people are now paying the price for criminal failings by industry and the government, who were responsible for the lack of action on the part of the Factory Inspectorate [the precursor to the HSE].”


What is asbestos and why is it dangerous?

Maddocks said the Factory Inspectorate knew by the end of the 19th century that heavy exposure to asbestos carried the risk of life-threatening respiratory disease and that by the 1960s it was public knowledge that exposure to small amounts of the substance carried the risk of mesothelioma.

“Despite that people continued to be exposed, and in many cases heavily exposed, for years if not decades after the mid-60s,” he said.

An HSE spokesperson said that while controls on the use of blue asbestos were introduced by 1970, the dangers of brown asbestos were not appreciated until well into that decade. The heavy use of brown asbestos is a key reason why the UK, along with Australia, has the highest mesothelioma rates in the world.

“With the benefit of hindsight it is now obvious that it should have been banned earlier but the specific evidence about brown asbestos was slower to emerge and at the time it would have been more difficult to see this,” they said.

Analysis of data shared with the Guardian by the Royal College of Physicians found that NHS trusts in former industrial areas had diagnosed the highest numbers of mesothelioma cases in 2014 to 2016.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS foundation trust and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust diagnosed 118 each in that period. Leeds and Portsmouth diagnosed 107 and 106 respectively.

Guardian analysis of coroners’ figures found evidence of the huge toll that Britain’s industrial past has taken on the health of people across the country.

In Nottinghamshire, North Northumberland and Sunderland, one in four deaths examined by coroners were found to be caused by “industrial disease”. A large proportion of these deaths are thought to be asbestos-related, though they will also include conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and silicosis.

There were 2,709 “deaths by industrial disease” recorded by coroners in England and Wales in 2018, a 44% rise on the 1,878 recorded in 1995, the earliest available figure. Nine percent of all deaths recorded by coroners in 2018 were caused by industrial disease.

Jo Ritson, from the asbestos victims’ support group that covers South Yorkshire and north Nottinghamshire, said demand for its services was going up, yet every year it struggled to get funding. It saw 117 clients in 2011-12, and 298 in 2017-18. It saw 192 people up to May this year.

Ritson said the reactions of her clients to the news that they had mesothelioma varied. “For some people it hits them like a bolt out of the blue and they find it really difficult to understand that what they did as a young man in their 20s or while doing their apprenticeships is now ruining the retirement that they worked towards all their lives,” she said.

“But others tend to know it’s coming because they’ve seen a lot of their colleagues die from asbestos-related disease. For a lot of them it’s like a ticking clock and they don’t know whether it’s going to hit them or not.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Since the dangers of asbestos became clear, governments have, over many years, brought in regulations and legislation. Asbestos is banned in construction and the risks of exposure today are extremely low.”

It added that it took its responsibility to compensate people with mesothelioma very seriously, automatically awarding the maximum rate of industrial injuries disablement benefit and awarding lump sum compensation of up to £92,000, depending on a person’s age.

‘Just because it is banned doesn’t mean it’s gone’

Mavis Nye, 78, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, more than 50 years after being exposed to asbestos dust on her husband’s overalls from his work as an apprentice at Chatham dockyard in Kent.

“He used to come home with it all in his hair and on his clothes,” she said. “It was just dust to me. So you’d shake it off and you put it in the washing machine and that’s it.”

Nye is one of thousands of people every year to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“When they first tell you you have mesothelioma you can’t even say the word so it doesn’t register,” said Nye. Writing on the website for the charity Mesothelioma UK, Nye’s husband, Ray, said: “How do I feel about the fact that it was me who has given her this sentence? Gutted, destroyed, sick and, yes, guilty.”

‘Pain is part and parcel of everyday life for me’

 John Chapman at home in Darlington, County Durham. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

In 2015, John Chapman was preparing for the Mallorca 312, the longest amateur cycling event in Europe. He had been cycling about 6,000 miles a year and so put the fatigue he’d been starting to experience down to too much exercise and not enough recovery time.

During an appointment with a lung specialist, he was asked if he had had any past exposure to asbestos. “I said I had. In my early days I’d spent 10 years working in a foundry,” said Chapman.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma when he was 54. Now, aged 57, he has outlived many expectations. “It’s like being committed to a death row sentence in that you know there is going to be a point in time after which you are not going to get past, based on statistics and life expectancies,” he said. “That’s the nature of the beast.”

He now has only a fifth of his lung capacity in his left lung and a bone tumour the size of an Easter egg. “Pain is unfortunately part and parcel of everyday life for me,” he said. “I have a Macmillan nurse who comes out and sees me and we are constantly adjusting and amending pain medications to try and offset the pain you get.”

While Chapman and Nye are angry that they were exposed to the substance when there was already evidence it was dangerous, both are primarily concerned with the fact that asbestos is still all around us.

“Just because it is banned doesn’t mean it’s gone,” says Nye. “It hasn’t. It’s everywhere. It’s in buildings that are forever being pulled down and refurbished, which can make it airborne … We need to educate the young because they think it’s a problem of the past.”

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What is asbestos and what are the risks?

Following the news that the potentially deadly material is present in more than 5,000 English primary schools, across the 105 local authorities, we look at what asbestos is and what problems it can cause.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s.

It is used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.

Asbestos could be present in any building that was built or refurbished before the year 2000. It is in many of the common materials used in the building trade, including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings.

Common uses:

The following are examples of some of the more common uses of asbestos in buildings:

Sprayed coating – found as fire protection on structural supports (for example, columns and beams) – it is a high hazard asbestos product and can generate very high fibre levels if disturbed ​

Pipe insulation – asbestos thermal pipe lagging is a high hazard asbestos product

Asbestos insulating board (AIB) ceiling and door panels – AIB is a high hazard asbestos product and can generate high levels of fibres if the board is cut or drilled

AIB window panel – like other AIB, this is a high hazard asbestos product, and if in good condition should be left undisturbed

Floor tiles – vinyl (PVC) or thermoplastic tiles contain asbestos

Asbestos cement roof sheeting – asbestos cement sheeting is often found on industrial building roofs and walls

Is an Elusive U.S. Total Ban on Asbestos Finally in Sight?

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

AbsolutVision / Pixabay

THURSDAY, July 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A new U.S. government rule on asbestos is at best a toothless measure against the cancer-causing material, critics charge.

The rule, laid out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), went into effect in June. The agency says it was designed to strengthen decades-old public health protections.

But two former government officials said the rule does nothing to address the continued use of asbestos in the United States. At worst, they argued, it actually creates “loopholes” that, in theory, could expand asbestos use in the future.

Writing in the July 10 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors instead call for a complete ban on the material.

“Over 60 countries have banned asbestos,” said co-author Richard Lemen, a former deputy director of the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. “It’s far past time the U.S. got on board with the rest of the world — especially when there are alternatives to asbestos.”

Asbestos is a mineral that naturally exists as bundles of fibers. For decades, it was mined and used in many industries, owing to its strength and resistance to heat and fire. It found its way into everything from cement, roofing and tiles, to insulation and fireproofing, to paints, coatings and adhesives, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI).

“And it’s been a 100-year man-made disaster,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the non-profit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

The good news is that a full ban is in sight, Lemen pointed out: The Alan Reinstein “Ban Asbestos Now” bill — named for Linda Reinstein’s late husband — is currently before both houses of Congress.

Reinstein said it has bipartisan support and that she’s “very optimistic” about its chances of passing.

How does asbestos do its damage? Breathing in tiny asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and scarring in the lungs, and raise the risk of deadly cancers of the lung, throat and ovaries.

Today, Lemen said, most Americans who die of asbestos-related diseases were either exposed years ago, or — through their jobs — are regularly exposed to asbestos installed decades ago.

People in certain jobs are at greatest risk, the NCI says: They include construction and demolition workers, shipyard workers and firefighters.

To be sure, asbestos use in the United States has plummeted since the 1960s.

However, Lemen said, a complete ban has remained elusive. The EPA tried back in 1989, he noted, but the ban was overturned in court.

Instead, the EPA was able to ban a handful of specific uses, while industry phased out most others. Today, it persists primarily in the chlor-alkali industry, which uses asbestos in producing chlorine and caustic soda.

The new EPA rule restricts 19 categories of asbestos use — in products like floor tile, roofing and adhesives. Those uses have all been long abandoned by industry. But they were not included in the 1989 ban, and the EPA says the new rule will prevent manufacturers from bringing them back.

But to Reinstein’s group, and other environmental and health advocates, the rule is an empty gesture: Reinstein questioned the notion that manufacturers would want to reintroduce a long-abandoned material widely known as a killer.

She described the EPA move as “throwing us a bone, rather than giving us a ban.”

It does nothing, she said, to curb the major remaining use of asbestos by the chlor-alkali industry.

The EPA did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2018, the United States imported about 750 metric tons of asbestos, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It’s imported because asbestos is no longer mined here.

Where does it come from? Russia — one of the world’s top asbestos producers, Lemen noted.

To Reinstein, it’s “outrageous” that the chlor-alkali industry has successfully lobbied to keep asbestos use alive in the United States. “There is no safe or controlled use for asbestos,” she said.

According to Lemen, nothing short of an asbestos ban is sufficient. At worst, he said, the new EPA rule leaves a door open to wider use — since it details a review process by which companies can seek to use the toxic mineral.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on asbestos.

SOURCES: Richard Lemen, Ph.D., former deputy director, U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and former assistant surgeon general, U.S. Public Health Service; Linda Reinstein, president, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Redondo Beach, Calif.; July 10, 2019, New England Journal of Medicine, online

Last Updated: 

Opening date set for refurbished Rothesay Pavilion

Opening date set for refurbished Rothesay Pavilion

The long-awaited re-opening of Rothesay Pavilion is now due to take place in September, five weeks later than planned, a new report has revealed.

The refurbishment of the iconic building has been hit by delays as a result of weather and construction issues, which mean it will miss its target of opening by Wednesday, July 31.

A report for a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s Bute and Cowal area committee now lists the Pavilion’s scheduled opening date as Tuesday, September 3 – even though barely half of the work has been completed.

The report by project manager Jonathan Miles says the project remains within its £10.6 million budget, but has been labelled complex and challenging due to the location, design, age and unique characteristics of the building. Mr Miles’ report also reveals that asbestos was found after a part of the ceiling in the Pavilion’s main hall collapsed during construction work.

Mr Miles said: “Seventy-nine per cent of the contract duration has expired and with only 52 per cent of the work completed to date the main contractor remains behind programme.

“This has been primarily caused due to works e.g. undercroft excavation, roof replacement, cast stone repairs and cast stone coping replacement, not having progressed at the same speed, due to weather and complexity challenges.

“It should be noted that there was a marked drop in overall performance during the quarter as noted above.

“This was due in part to the weather impacting on external roof, stone replacement works and partial collapse of the auditorium perimeter ceiling which restricted access to certain parts of the building.

“With regard to the ceiling, a comprehensive survey has been undertaken to understand the root cause of the collapse, including sample analysis which has confirmed the presence of asbestos.

“Weather has continued to interrupt external envelope works both to the roof and wall elevations. For example, only 64 per cent of roof works have been completed.

“Despite the main contractors’ best endeavours, maintaining the water tightness and integrity of the structure has been challenging, with a consequential impact on internal fit-out progress.

“An inspection of the main hall and stage floors has noted water penetration, and a follow up specialist survey will be undertaken, subject to entry into the hall following asbestos removal works.”

Mr Miles also reported that the Rothesay Pavilion Charity was looking unlikely to meet its fundraising target of £400,000 by the end of June. It currently has £132,000 secured, with a forecast total of £298,000 being in the coffers within the target time.

Argyll and Bute Council may be able to step in to make up the shortfall – but that will depend on a decision taken by its members.

Mr Miles added: “Whilst the charity is using its best endeavours to try and achieve its capital contribution target, it is becoming evident the charity will not close the gap by June 2019.

“The council previously agreed to underwrite the charity’s capital fundraising target pending successful funding applications.

“In view of the forecast shortfall the council will need to make a decision to release budget to sustain the charity until the building construction contract is complete.”

Rothesay Pavilion declined the opportunity to comment. However, an Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: Work continues on what will be a fantastic asset for Bute, with everyone involved in the Rothesay Pavilion project determined to ensure it’s a facility the community can be proud of.

“The complex nature of this scale of project on an A-listed building nearing 100-years-old means surprises can arise and cause a delay. Specifically, asbestos in the existing main hall ceiling is in far worse condition than surveys led us to believe. As a result, we’ve had to appoint specialist contractors to remove it, as opposed to undertaking localised repairs as was previously envisaged.

“While this has a knock-on effect for the project overall, the safety of future users of the building must come first.

“We thank the community for their patience and understanding, and we look forward to delivering a sustainable and much-loved Pavilion for Rothesay.”

How much can painting a roof white reduce its temperature?

It has long been known that painting the roof of a building white reflects sunlight and reduces its temperature.

But by how much and are there downsides to doing it?

In a recent BBC interview, the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon suggested that this reduction could be as much as 30C, with the internal temperature of the building falling by as much as seven degrees.

So where do these figures come from and does wider research back this up?

Mr Ban was talking about a pilot project in Ahmedabad City in western India, where summer temperatures can reach as high as 50C.

In 2017, more than 3,000 city rooftops were painted using both white lime and a special reflective coating.

Known simply as “cool roofing”, this process is designed to reduce the solar radiation absorbed, which in turn means less heat is transferred inside the building.

Cool roofs also emit away some heat normally retained by a building, cooling it further.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The planning document for the Gujarat project states that reflective roof coverings “can help bring roof temperatures down by as much as 30C and reduce indoor temperatures by three to seven degrees”.

But this is not an actual finding from the project itself.

“Depending on the setting, cool roofs can help keep indoor temperatures lower by 2C to 5C as compared to traditional roofs,” says Anjali Jaiswal, of the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council, which oversaw the Ahmedabad project.

This range is slightly lower than Mr Ban’s figure for the reduction of building temperatures, but is still a significant drop.

Another pilot in Hyderabad in southern India, using a cool roof coating membrane, found indoor air temperatures lower by an average of 2C.

As for Mr Ban’s claim of a 30 degree fall in the temperature of the rooftop itself, the Gujarat pilot does not provide answers, but we can turn to the findings of a study by the California-based Berkeley Lab for some guidance.

It found that a clean white roof that reflects 80% of sunlight will stay about 31C cooler on a summer afternoon.

The conditions would of course be very different in California to those found in India – where more than 60% of roofs are made from metal, asbestos and concrete, which trap heat inside buildings even when treated with white coating.

However, both Indian cities, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, have seen sufficient success with their pilots that they have launched expanded cool roofs programmes this year.

mage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

So why aren’t more cities being painting white?

The idea is of course not new, and white roofs and walls have been a typical sight for centuries in southern European and North African countries.

The city of New York has recently coated more than 10 million sq ft of rooftops white.

Other places like California have updated building codes to promote cool roofs, which are seen as an important way to save energy.

A cool roof can save air-conditioning costs by as much as 40%.

An experiment in Bhopal in central India found that solar reflective paint on low-rise buildings saved energy load by 303 kWh in peak summer hours.

There are even estimates for the potential reduction in global carbon emissions if cooling paint was used on rooftops in every large city around the world.

The Berkeley Lab says the worldwide use of reflective roofing could produce a global cooling effect equivalent to offsetting 24 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of taking 300 million cars off the road for 20 years.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

It is certainly a low-cost option, particularly in poorer countries.

A coating of lime wash “can cost as little as 1.5 rupees (£0.017; $0.02) per sq ft to more expensive reflective coatings or membranes”, says Ms Jaiswal.

The differences can be considerable both in personal comfort and in energy savings on cooling.

Ultimately, however, “political will and implementation play a big role”, says Ms Jaiswal.

And there are possible downsides to consider.

For cities with colder winters, reflective roofs might increase demand for heating and roof condensation is a mould risk.

This is why a University College London team decided not to use white paint for a resettlement colony project in New Delhi.

“The residents were also against painting roofs white, because roofs are also used for other purposes,” says Renu Khosla, from the Delhi-based Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence.

The highly reflective paint, she says, makes it hard to go out on to the roofs to use the space for storage and daily household chores.

A team from the University of Chicago also carried out research in the same area near Delhi.

They painted the roofs of a group of buildings and found that even though indoor temperatures fell by only modest amounts, those living in them did adjust their behaviour to save money on energy bills and water use.

Just 7 days to success for BMI roofing apprentices of the Year

With just over a week to go until this year’s BMI Apprentice of the Year competition closes , there’s still time for aspirational and ambitious roofing apprentices to enter the competition. May 3rd 2019 is the closing date and all those recognised as an apprentice by their employer, or those working towards qualified status, are encouraged to enter.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Two prestigious titles – one for pitched and one for flat roofing – will be awarded and winning the competition identifies that person as possessing commitment, ability and the potential to achieve great things, whether as a leading employee, independent businessperson of the future or a college lecturer. Beyond the prestige and kudos, there is also a trophy and prize bundle; plus ongoing support from the team at the BMI National Training Centre.

Mat Woodyatt, BMI UK & Ireland’s Technical Training Manager, says: “We are currently receiving high quality entries from colleges across the country and will do right up to the wire. With the deadline of May 3rd is looming, there’s every reason why trainees and tutors should bid for victory in this great competition now.”

To enter, candidates are asked three questions about how they see change affecting the sector in the next five years; and then have to submit a short personal statement on how their training has seen their attitude to roofing change. Twenty candidates are then shortlisted and invited to the competition final which takes place over two days at the BMI National Training Centre in Gloucestershire.

Finalists receive professional coaching on all aspects of running a roofing business – including business planning, presentation skills, and technical skills – before being assessed, making this a complete learning experience. The two-day event concludes in the Apprentice of the Year awards dinner – consisting of the finalists, their tutors, and judges – where the winners of the 2019 competition will be announced.

This blog was taken from http://www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net/just-7-days-to-success-for-bmi-roofing-apprentices-of-the-year/

There’s no time to lose, and so for further information about this year’s BMI Apprentice of the Year competition, including entry details please visit https://bit.ly/2S9Lt8R.

European roofing giant is latest firm to move to Reading’s Thames Tower

European roofing giant is latest firm to move to Reading’s Thames Tower

A giant in the world of roofing has set up a new office in Reading’s Thames Tower.

BMI, the largest manufacturer of flat and pitched roofing and waterproofing solutions throughout Europe, has taken the whole of the 13th floor of the 14-storey office building beside Reading Station.

The company’s office space totals 14,000 square feet.

The move means just two floors remain vacant at the building in Station Road.

James Silver, managing director of Landid, which manages the building, said: “This again proves Reading’s new office offer is increasingly attracting the big players.

“Thames Tower is a prime example of how offices, in transport hubs, like Reading , are proving to be a new and refreshing offer for UK and global business.

“We look forward to welcoming BMI to Thames Tower, a thriving building which is having a positive effect on the town and the local economy.”

BMI is expanding its business from London to Reading, in the hope of attracting new talent and business.

The company joins the likes of Ericsson, which has the eight, ninth and 14th floors.

Other occupiers include HSBC, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and MNBL (Mobile Broadband Network Limited), international recruitment firm Austen Fraser and  professional services firm BDO.

The building was recently bought by Spelthorne Borough Council in Surrey in a £285 million deal.

MichaelGaida / Pixabay

IRE: Resilient Roofing, Tech and Future Trends

IRE: Resilient Roofing, Tech and Future Trends

From the sold-out floor of IRE 2019, Janelle Penny speaks with Mike DuCharme about all things roofing.a

ArtisticOperations / Pixabay

[Begin transcript]

Janelle: This is Janelle Penny, senior writer for BUILDINGS magazine. I’m here at the International Roofing Expo in Nashville, on the buzzing show floor.

And I’m here today with Mike DuCharme, who is the outgoing chairman of the EPDM Roofing Association, also known as ERA.

ERA is the trade association that represents the manufacturers of EPDM single-ply roofing products, including Firestone Building ProductsJohns Manville and Carlisle Construction Materials. And in addition to serving as the chair of ERA this year, our guest is vice president of product marketing at Carlisle as well.

Hi, Mike.

Mike: Hi there, Janelle.

Janelle: So, you’ve been the chair of ERA for two years now, right?

Mike: That’s correct.

Janelle: Great. What changes have you observed in the industry as you’ve been chair?

Mike: We’ve seen certainly a lot of changes in the industry. You know, I’ve been in the overall roofing industry for over 35 years in roles ranging from technical roles to sales roles to product development and product marketing.

And we’ve seen a lot of changes. We’ve seen a higher focus on roofing performance, desire for roofs to last longer. You know, where as in years past, people might have been tolerant with a roof that lasted 10 or 15 years. Now, the expectation is that a roof will last 20, 30+ years.

It’s also been a lot of push and trend towards increased energy efficiency, trying to have roofs that help the building conserve energy. So, there has certainly been a drive towards putting more insulation on the roof to improve the efficiency of buildings.

Janelle: Great. What do you think is driving that?

Mike: I think it’s a dollars and cents issue. As energy costs continue to increase, people are looking at how they can get more out of those dollars.

Janelle: Makes sense. And resilience has been a focus for the association too, right?

Mike: Resilience has been a big focus in the last couple of years for the EPDM Roofing Association.

Janelle: Great. What made you decide to take that on as an organization?

Mike: Well, what we saw, certainly there has been a lot of dialogue on climate change and its impact on building performance. We’re seeing a lot of negative impacts – storm damage, flooding, things like that – that have impacted buildings that isn’t really addressed in some of the current codes and standards.

[Related: Biggest Risks Impacting Your Building in 2019]

So, we thought that this was an important area to dig into and to try to help the industry by providing information. In years past, there was a lot of discussion on the topic of sustainability. And sustainability is similar in that that’s a focus on how to make buildings more energy efficient, how to make building materials be used more efficiently.

But it didn’t have as much focus on roof performance, especially in severe conditions. So, that’s where resilience comes in.

Janelle: Sure. How do you answer clients who say that they can’t afford to create a resilient roofing system?

Mike: Well, it is a question of your current spending dollars versus the future. What the National Institute of Building Sciences has determined is while you might spend some dollars today, for every dollar spent today mitigating and potentially preventing damage to the roof, you can save $11 in the future.

Janelle: Wow.

Mike: So, it’s a big savings. You gotta spend a little bit more upfront in some cases, but you’re going to get a much better performing building out of it.

Janelle: Excellent. So, let’s talk about tools. What resources are out there to help people create resilient roofs?

Mike: There are a lot of good articles. ERA has taken the lead in presenting information in a lot of the architectural forums on that topic.

We’ve also developed a guide that’s available on the website, EDPMroofs.org, that pretty much goes into the issue in detail as to the costs that are potentially occurring due to climate change, some of the steps you can take to mitigate and potentially prevent damage to your building, some of the enhancements you can make to a roof system to make sure it will resist, whether it’s high winds or flooding or whatever it might be.

Janelle: Great. And you have the new report out, “Building Resilience, the Roofing Perspective,” right?

Mike: That’s correct.

Janelle: Great. Can you tell me a little more about what’s in it and what kind of conclusions you came to as you were researching it as an organization?


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Mike: Yeah. It certainly gives a lot of the good background information. But I think the meat of it is really getting into the enhancements you can make to a roof system to ensure that it’s going to perform long-term.

And some of them are very basic. It can be things like the inclusion of a cover board or a thicker membrane to ensure that the roof can resist potentially wind-blown debris or hail damage, elements like that.

So, sometimes it’s just little tweaks to the roof system that’ll really enhance performance.

[On topic: Roofing’s Nine Roles in Resilience]

Janelle: Great. And what trends do you see in 2019? What are you looking at going ahead?

Mike: Well, there’s certainly going to be this ongoing focus on resilience. In general, even beyond resilience, one of the trends we’re focused on are issues related to the workforce and how we can help mitigate the labor shortage by providing more efficient roof systems. So, there’s a real drive to improve the technology to make sure they’re not even tough and storm resistant, but they can also be put down more easily.

Janelle: Excellent. Mike, thanks for joining me again today. This has been Janelle Penny at the International Roofing Expo. Please be sure to check out the rest of our podcasts at buildings.com.

Global Roofing Materials Market 2019-2027

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Leading Players Of Roofing Materials Market Are:

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Global Roofing Materials Market Segmentation:

Segmentation by product type:
Tile roof
Metal roof
Plastic roof
Asphalt shingles

Segmentation by application:


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Southeast Asia, Central, and South America, India, Europe, US, China, Japan

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