Numerous terms and ideas are used to describe products, processes and techniques that are said to be sustainable or provide high performance. Terms such as “green,” “environmentally-friendly,” “recyclable” and “long life-cycle” attempt to define the concept of sustainability. But what really is sustainability? How do you determine whether a product is truly sustainable or not?
Along with the growth of green design programs such as LEED® and Green Globes, there have been efforts by state and local governments to add sustainability guidelines to building codes. The federal government has indicated it plans to add green design guidelines to its building requirements as well.
Guidelines for many performance criteria are established based on standards. There are ANSI standards for PVC sheet roofing, for measuring emittance and for calculating a solar reflectance index. There are LEED standards that attempt to set the bar for high performance building design and construction. There are standards for wind loads and for material strength and thickness. Sustainability standards already exist for a few building products, but not for single-ply roofing. Without specific, complete standards for single-ply roofing, PVC-based products could become part of a broad category that would not accurately or effectively present the complete green picture for vinyl roofing.
The Vinyl Roofing Division of the Chemical Fabrics and Film Association has undertaken an ambitious effort to develop and obtain approval for an ASTM standard for Sustainable Thermoplastic and Thermoset Single-Ply Membrane Roofing. The process is anticipated to take another 6 – 12 months, but in the end the standard will provide solid guidelines as to what constitutes a sustainable single-ply roofing system. Stay tuned for updates as the project progresses.