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Manufacturers team up with NRC to test roofing membranes

For over a decade, the National Research Council (NRC) has helped many of Canada’s top roofing manufacturers develop state-of-the-art roofing systems.Through an ongoing partnership with the roofing community, NRC research is reflected in commercial roofing installations from coast to coast. Recently, more than 70 technical professionals from Soprema Canada, a major Canadian roofing membrane manufacturer, visited NRC labs to understand ongoing research initiatives. “Soprema manufactures roofing systems that account for more than 50 percent of the Canadian commercial roofing market,” said Dr. Bas Baskaran, who leads the roofing systems group at the NRC Institute for Research in Construction (NRC-IRC) in Ottawa. “In the 1990s, Soprema asked us to evaluate various products. One of their top concerns was to be able to measure thermally-induced stresses on the roofing membrane.” “For the last 15 years, we’ve acted as an extension of Soprema’s R&D facility,” noted Dr. Baskaran. “They come to us when they don’t have the required equipment for specific test procedures.” In 1993, Soprema opened its own R&D facility in Drummond-ville, Quebec. “When we approached NRC, it was a win-win situation for both parties,” said John Harquail of  Soprema. “Our partnership with NRC increases their capacity to conduct research projects to enhance the waterproofing performance of roofing systems.” In 1994, NRC created the Special Interest Group for Dynamic Evaluation of Roofing Systems (SIGDERS), which includes So-prema and other industry partners. Led by NRC, SIGDERS has created new ways for testing and simulating the wind conditions that impact on flexible membrane roofs during hurricanes and other extreme weather events.
A few years ago, Soprema began introducing fastener-free roofing systems. “Metal fasteners or screws are a common method used to keep roofs in place,” said Baskaran. However, in Canada, they act as a “thermal bridge,” causing heat loss or heat gain through the roof. Soprema has developed technologies for installing prefabricated waterproofing membranes using adhesives rather than fasteners, in order to minimize heat loss or gain. “Once there is a path for heat or cold to get through a roof, moisture can accumulate, lowering the thermal value or causing some other degradation,” Baskaran explained. “Getting rid of the fasteners is one way to help preserve the roof.” NRC and SIGDERS, along with the support of manufacturers such as Soprema, are now examining the thermal movements on roofs and the effects of wind uplift on fastener-free roofs.