Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why Do I Need a Pavement, Building Envelope, Or Roof Consultant?

Quality Control
With every organization looking to cut costs wherever possible, how do you know if a hiring a pavement, building envelope, or roof consultant is worth the cost?

A good consultant can provide an invaluable service to your facility. They have specialized knowledge and experience that most architects and engineers do not possess and are a trusted, unbiased and independent third-party resource. Consultants are experienced in maneuvering through the industries complexities and will work with you to develop a solution that is truly in your best interest.

What does a Pavement, Building Envelope, Or Roof Consultant do?
The role of the consultant is to collaborate with owners, material suppliers and builders of construction projects to create high performance pavement, building envelope, or roofing systems. Their tasks usually include:
  • Assessing the conditions and needs of your facilities
  • Assisting in the management and budgeting for your assets
  • Creation of plans, specifications, and drawings specific to the project
  • Controlling the bid process on behalf of the owner
  • Administering the construction projects for the owner
  • Conducting pre-construction meetings, performing quality control inspections, and testing of materials and products throughout construction
  • Ensuring that all pavement, building envelope, and roof systems are properly installed in accordance with design and submittal documents, specifications, and industry standards

In addition to an unbiased approach and specialized expertise, there are several additional attributes that consultants possess that you will not usually find in a contractor:
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Any licenses or registrations as required by the state based on the scope of work (PE, RA, RRC)
  • Code Compliance
  • A working knowledge of the building's insurance carrier's requirements

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Pavement, Building Envelope, Or Roof Consultant?
The consultant is there to handle the technical aspects of the project that most facilities departments don't understand - and don't have the time or the inclination to learn. Contractors must work in concert with the consultant to understand the requirements of the specifications and design to collectively provide the owner with a quality construction project.
In the end, hiring a consultant for paving, roofing, or building envelope expertise can provide a building owner with a significant return on investment, while meeting sustainable design standards and ensuring projects that offer the lowest life cycle cost of ownership.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The 5 Step Process for Getting Your Facility Budgets Approved

The number one challenge reported by facilities departments is securing funding for maintenance, repairs and capital projects. Short-term, band-aid solutions are often implemented instead of strategic long-term maintenance programs because facilities departments can't justify the expenditure. 

Facilities departments struggle to obtain adequate funding for a number of reasons...

1. CFO's typically do not want to invest money in managing the facility since they see the facility as an expense. They would rather invest in a new technology or initiative that is going to make the organization more profitable. They do not fully understand the value facilities departments add to their organization by correcting problems and improving how a facility operates.

2. Facilities departments often have trouble validating their funding requests. They aren't armed with the best tools and therefore can't present a solid case for funding.

3. Facilities departments don't clearly demonstrates why funding their projects will benefit the entire organization. Requests are often presented in facilities department terms rather than in context the CFO can relate to.

Our buildings do not generate revenue, but can most certainly affect the “bottom line.” Overcoming these challenges as well as others that present themselves when pitching your case to the C-suite is imperative for successful facility management. 

We have collaborated with numerous facility managers to find out the best ways to build credibility with key financial decisions makers, create a defensible capital budget, and, ultimately, get your budgets approved. 

Continue to our website to read The 5 Step Process for Getting Your Capital Budgets Approved.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What is the Best Way to Detect Moisture Trapped Within a Roof System?

There is much dissention in the market­place today on the best way to detect mois­ture trapped in a roofing system. There are many different options, both destructive and nondestructive. We are going to analyze three of the major nondestructive techniques: nu­clear, dielectric, and infrared. Nuclear and di­electric techniques both utilize a grid system. The roof is marked off in an intersecting grid, usually on 5', 10', or 20' centers. The most commonly used are 7'-10' centers. The opera­tor moves the instrument to each point and records the instrument readings at each one of the intersecting grid points. The infrared technique "photographs" 100% of the roof surface. It is important to note that the quality of the results of any of these types of analyses may vary greatly depending upon both the quality of the instruments being used and the competence of the user. We will assume that both the instruments and the operator are competent. Also note that all three of these methods generally employ the use of destructive testing in the form of core sampling to verify results.

The first method of moisture detection is the nuclear technique. The theory of this technique is quite complex, but basically a nuclear meter measures the slow reflected neutrons from a fast neutron source. Nuclear meters contain radioactive material in order to release these neutrons. When the neutrons are released from the meter, they collide with other particles within the roof. If the particle is a hydrogen atom, the neutron's speed will be reduced. Since water contains hydrogen at­oms, the amount of moisture in a roof system should be proportional to the number of "slow" neutrons reflected back from the roof system. This process is complicated by the fact that roof components may also contain hydrogen atoms, but presumably the readings should be fairly consistent for all dry roof areas, with a marked change for areas containing moisture.

There are both advantages and disad­vantages of nuclear analysis. One advantage is that the data acquisition is rather insensitive to climatic conditions, enabling this survey to be done during the day and during virtually any part of the year, as long as there is no standing water on the surface of the roof. An­other advantage is that it can be used on vir­tually all roof types. One disadvantage is that the meter contains radioactive material which requires special handling and licensing. An­other disadvantage is that data acquisition is time consuming and laborious. Also, the me­ter readings are angle sensitive and must be properly placed on the roof. The readings can also be affected by inconsistencies in the roof components. Finally, a major disadvantage is that since the nuclear meter samples about 2 square feet of roof at each grid point and most surveys are taken on a 10' x 10' grid, a nuclear moisture survey sees only about 2% of the roof. Even if the grid size is reduced to 5' x 5', the cover­age is only increased to 8% and the work is multiplied by 4.

The next method is dielectric or capacitance detection which uses a capacitance me­ter. The meter creates an alternating electrical current in the roof system below. Capacitance is the property of a substance which permits the storage of electricity when there are differences between two conductors. Capacitance is measured as a dielectric constant. The dielectric constant of a water saturated roof system will be much higher than that of a dry system (with intermediate constants for intermediate amounts of moisture).

The advantages and disadvantages of the dielectric method are very similar to the nuclear method. This applies to the climactic advantage, which is exactly the same. The advantages is that the equipment is less sophis­ticated, easier to operate, and generally less expensive than the other two methods. One disadvantage is that it is virtually impossible to determine the actual boundaries of a known anomaly. Also, due to its electrical charge opera­tion, there are numerous conditions which will pre­vent the equipment from obtaining any accurate or useful readings. Finally, the major disadvantage is that, like the nuclear method, capacitance meters sample about 2 square feet of roof at each grid point and most surveys are taken on a 10 x 10' grid. Therefore, a dielectric sur­vey sees only about 2% of the roof.

Infrared scanning, the final method of detection, senses the temperature of the sur­face of the roof. Wet insulation changes the ability of the roof system to store and con­duct thermal energy, thus causing changes in the temperature of the roof surface. With this method, 100% of the roof surface is viewed through a scanner or camera. Ar­eas with wet insulation will appear lighter than dry areas due to an increase in temperature. The data generally is recorded through digital imagery. Outlines of the wet area can also be painted on the roof surface.

The advantages of infrared surveying are many. The first advantage is that the data is generally extremely accurate if obtained by an experienced operator with appropriate equipment. The second advantage is that the data is acquired over the entire roof and not just at grid intersection points, so the entire roof surface is seen. This method tends to be less time-consuming than the other two meth­ods, offering cost advantages, particularly for large facilities. This method can also be used to identify conditions requiring remediation on exterior walls and window panels.

There are, however, disadvantages to this method. The first disadvantage is that it is highly weather dependent, with many vari­ables including surface moisture, wind speed, daytime vs. nighttime temperature, etc. The second disadvantage is that these scans gen­erally need to be performed at night, increas­ing safety issues. The readings may also be affected by interior heat sources or differences in insulation thickness. The final disadvantage is that the results are qualitative rather than quantitative, and therefore are highly depen­dent on the experience of the operator.

In conclusion, roofing experts gener­ally agree that the most reliable method of moisture detection in a roof system is us­ing an infrared survey. The disadvantages of this system can be overcome by an expe­rienced operator, enabling accurate results for 100% of the roof surface. Veri­fication procedures are recommended, including test cuts, moisture probes (Delmhorst), and use of a Tramex meter. It is impor­tant to note, however, that the results from an infrared survey are highly dependent upon many different variables, requiring the direction and interpretation of a trained expert in order to achieve usable results.

StructureScan, a division of StructureTec, performs nondestructive evaluations of facilities using infrared scanning. If you are responsible for the care and maintenance of the exterior of your facilities, contact us today to schedule your StructureScan infrared survey!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Key to Maximizing the Life of Your Pavement

Parking areas, loading docks, and campus roadways have a significant effect on your facilities appearance and functionality. Deteriorating pavement areas are not only a safety concern, but a direct reflection of your organization’s image. A guest’s experience begins well before coming through your doors, so it is critical you make a positive first impression. 
Proper pavement maintenance is essential to any organization that has the responsibility for maintaining the condition of parking lots, loading docks, sidewalks, and roadways. Keeping up on pavement maintenance and restoration not only saves money, but creates a safe environment for both employees and visitors. Potholes, cracks, and eroded pavement can become a liability and an accident waiting to happen. The continuous battle of “chasing” problems and an ever increasing shortage of capital requires you to maximize the life of existing pavement. By developing a long-range pavement management program, your organization can double the life of your pavement and save thousands of dollars in capital replacement and taking a proactive approach to pavement maintenance.
The first step in developing a pavement management program is to perform a detailed condition assessment of all pavement areas. This information should be analyzed to create a prioritized maintenance schedule complete with accurate budgets that correlate with the scope of work.

Typically, properly designed pavements perform well under loads until a particular point in their life spans, at which time they deteriorate rapidly until failure. If you choose to defer maintenance and provide band-aid repairs only when required, you will find that when you are finally ready to invest in maintenance that your pavement has already gone past the point of repair, and that the base or pavement failures will soon be reflected through to the surface, resulting in wasted resources. In order to maximize the useful life of the asset, preventative maintenance should be done even when there doesn’t appear to be anything inherently wrong with the pavement.  
Experience shows for every $1 spent on preventative pavement maintenance, $6 to $14 are saved on future rehabilitation or reconstruction costs.
The biggest mistake a facilities department can make is waiting until a problem develops before addressing it. By selecting the right treatment at the right time, you can keep water from breaching the pavement surface, prevent oxidation of the asphalt or concrete, and maintain an aesthetically pleasing pavement area.
With a pavement management program in place, your facility management team will have the ability to achieve a well-maintained, high performance pavement area that will have a greater return on your investment. By designing for the load and purpose of your pavement and performing maintenance early and often, you can decrease your annual cost of ownership and enhance the life cycle of your pavement areas.
For more information, please visit our website or contact us to set up a pavement consultation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Galbestos: What is it and Why is it Dangerous?

Galbestos metal cladding was produced as a corrosion resistant metal roofing and siding panel.  The general manufacturing procedure started with a carbon steel sheet that was then hot dip galvanized. While the zinc was still molten, an asbestos felt was pressed into the surface to form a mechanical bond between the zinc and the asbestos hence the name Gal-bestos.  This strip was then impregnated with asphalt under pressure and heat.  In the resultant sheet, the asbestos fibers were completely encapsulated by the asphalt.  A final protective coating of asphalt or hot melt polyester color coating was then applied as the final weathering coat. 

This Galbestos coated metal was used for a wide range of metal wall and roof applications from its introduction in 1948 until manufacture was terminated in 1979 due to environmental restriction of asbestos products. The unique coating provided a virtually indestructible product in harsh industrial environments and found extensive use among the Fortune 500 of the time. Because of its durability many installations still exist.

Asbestos monitoring tests conducted by independent agencies have shown that excessive asbestos levels were not emitted by intact Galbestos under most typical handling conditions.  It was found however that cutting with an abrasive saw did produce levels of asbestos in excess of the federally mandated limits.

In the typical aging of Galbestos, the color coat hardens and shrinks.  This causes cracks to appear in the finished coat.  At this point the asphalt / asbestos layer becomes exposed.  With continued weathering the asphalt deteriorates and can erode from the panels.  In some cases the shrinkage of the Galbestos color coat can be excessive and larger areas of the asphalt / asbestos layer is exposed.

Galbestos can, however, be recoated and the heavy gauges used in industrial applications make the product an ideal candidate for restoration versus replacement.  Since the asbestos in Galbestos is encapsulated in the asphalt it is not released into the environment as free asbestos unless the asphalt is destroyed or severely weathered. 

StructureTec has developed specifications to guide the safe preparation of Galbestos for restoration. Since many applications will have been previously painted our evaluation will also involve analysis of the make-up and existing conditions prior to arriving at a final system for restoration.

Since Galbestos looks so similar to other metal cladding, it is not easily identified and is often times unnoticed. We are here to help bring clarity and understanding to the many considerations available to you and how they can connect with your facility goals and objectives. If maintained and managed properly Galbestos can be protected and restored. However, if it is left to deteriorate it can become a major asbestos abatement project. StructureTec can help you determine the best course of action for managing this situation. Contact us today!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Eliminate Fall Hazards and Make Your Building a Safer Place to Work

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. In 2014, fall protection was the number one violation on Occupational Health and Safety Regulation’s (OSHA) top 10 most-cited violations, a position it has held for 4 consecutive years. It is an employer’s responsibility to set up the work place to prevent workers from falling off overhead platforms, elevated work stations and roof and wall structures. When workers are at risk of falling, the employer must have a written fall protection plan in place and available at the workplace before any work with the risk of falling can begin.
These guidelines and regulations are mandatory under OHSA and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) works to ensure consistency of these standards. Once you have developed a written safety plan, you must then provide the required fall protection systems and adequately train employees and visitors prior to engaging in any at risk activity.
Fall protection systems can be divided into three types:
·         Fall Prevention
·         Fall Restraint
·         Fall Arrest
A Fall Prevention System/Plan is designed to prevent or eliminate the risk of falls through proper planning including restriction of access, safe access zones and signage. Fall Restraint Systems are designed to allow a worker to get near an edge without actually going over the edge. A Fall Arrest System is defined as a system that protects a worker after a fall by stopping them from hitting the surface below.
Incorporating Fall Protection Systems in the Workplace  
Your primary focus should always be eliminating fall hazards by preventing through proper fall prevention techniques. When that’s not possible, you need to provide Fall Restraint and Arrest systems to ensure workplace safety, some common examples of such systems are:
1.   Guardrails
Guardrails are the most common fall protection system used to protect workers at openings and on platforms. Guardrails must be continuous, with no portion of the leading edge exposed, and meet the strength requirements.
·      Guardrails should be removed only when materials are being on-loaded or off-loaded. Once the materials have been positioned, replace the guardrails immediately.
·      Ensure that each top rail, or equivalent member of a guardrail system, can withstand a force of at least 200 pounds. Top rails must be between 39 and 45 inches.
·      Make sure that midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members or panels can withstand a force of at least 150 pounds.
2.   Hole Covers
Any opening that measures at least two inches or more in its least dimension in a floor, roof or walking surface must be covered. Covers should be able to support at least two times the weight that will cross over them.
3.   Personal Fall Restraint Systems
This system can be a full body harness or a body belt that’s rigged to physically restrict the worker from reaching an area where a free fall could occur. It’s designed to hold the worker back, but not provide support in a fall. These systems are commonly used on leading edge work such as roofs, open-sided floors and work platforms.
4.   Safety Net Systems
Safety nets, which catch the worker after a fall, are often found under bridgework, steel erection, demolition and maintenance operations. They should be installed as close as possible under the walking/working surface, but never allow a fall of more than 30 feet.
5.   Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS)
A PFAS keeps the worker from hitting the ground or other obstructions below. The PFAS, consisting of a body harness, connecting device and anchorage, must prevent the worker from free falling more than six feet. The arresting force on the worker must be limited to 1,800 pounds or less, and the anchorage point must be capable of supporting 5,000 pounds per person attached. When vertical lifelines are used, each worker must be attached to a separate lifeline.
Anchorage Points
It is important to remember that a personal fall restraint or arrest system is only as good as its anchor point. It doesn’t matter how well trained personnel are, how good the equipment is, or whether or not the employee is tied off correctly. If the anchor point fails, nothing in the system will work.
Accidents often happen when the risks seem minimal, but are not. When a fall occurs, there will be no dramatic life-saving catch by a fellow co-worker like you see in the movies.  Proper use of safety equipment and fall protection helps to ensure that no matter how comfortable your workers are, should a fall occur, they will be protected. It is crucial to educate and train workers to properly use fall protection and to always remember to wear personal protective equipment, because nobody can defy the laws of gravity.

Please contact StructureTec to learn more about Fall Protection Systems and always remember to check with OSHA and other governing bodies to ensure fall protection compliance.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

9 Steps to Prevent Commercial Roof Leaks This Spring

April showers bring…leaky roofs? Roofing experts recommend evaluating your roof system in the spring and fall. With spring finally upon us, it is important to assess your roof system for any damage that may have occurred during the winter months.

The following is a list of steps you should take to help ensure your roof is ready for spring:

1.   Remove all Debris. Debris such as loose gravel, dirt, leaves, and twigs should be removed. These materials can retain water if left on the roof. The constant moisture can cause damage to the roof, promote growth of algae and mold, and may cause standing water to form.

2.   Clear Drains. Field drains and auxiliary drains should be cleared to prevent ponding that may cause leaks or structural damage.

3.   Inspect the Roof Surface. Perform a visual inspection of the roof system. On PVC or rubber roofs, inspect for holes, cracks, or faster back-out. On built-up roofs, look for areas with missing gravel or exposed felts. Inspect roof seams and transitions for cracks or holes and have them sealed. If you have questions about the integrity of the roof membrane, contact a roofing professional.

4.   Inspect Roof Penetrations. Roof penetrations include pipes, drains, and other components that protrude through the roof surface. Roof penetrations are highly susceptible to leaks. It is very important to examine HVAC units, conduits, vents, gas lines, rain collars, and pipe boots. If you notice that a roof penetration is leaking or damaged, consult a professional to have the problem fully diagnosed and repaired.

5.   Evaluate Rooftop Perimeter. Walk the roof perimeter to inspect the edge details and note any areas of concern including soft spots, mold, or algae. Inspect the flashing at walls and curbs for any punctures of damage.

6.   Inspect the Sealant. Keep an eye out for sealant or caulking issues such as cracking, openings, deterioration, or crazing. Sealant failures are often found around penetrations and perimeter flashings. Sealant requires regular inspection and often has to be repaired.

7.   Inspect the Underside of the Roof. After you have thoroughly evaluated the outside area, inspect the underside of your roof deck, looking for any signs of water stains or streaks on the deck or walls that could be a sign of a leak. 
8.   Prevent Leaks Before They Start. Your roof inspection may reveals areas of deterioration that will require repair. Repairing these small defects before they become major issues will save you from spending thousands of dollars down the road. If the damage is beyond your skill set or you are uncertain of the proper repair service, contact a professional.

9.   Perform Additional Investigations. If the areas of deterioration require additional investigation, a roofing professional can perform destructive testing, which requires making an opening for closer inspection, or non-destructive testing, such as infrared scanning, to determine the severity of the issue.

While roof maintenance is often times ignored until leaks are noticeable, facilities managers and building owners can save thousands of dollars and prevent many headaches by proactively maintaining their roof systems.

StructureTec can help identify potential problems by performing a spring walkover. We can help you determine and implement the proper course of action to ensure your roof is protected this spring.
Contact us today to schedule your spring walkover!