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Flooring “Rocks” at Hall of Fame

When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s original rubber-tile flooring began to show signs of aging and abuse, the museum turned to Stonhard for a solution that fit the facility’s design and was easy to clean, impact resistant, and sound reducing.


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Can you imagine memorabilia from Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Aretha Franklin, and Bruce Springsteen, all in one place? Atlantic records founder Ahmet Ertegun did and, along with a small group of music industry professionals, created the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. This $84-million, 150,000-sq.-ft. museum opened its doors in 1995, and is a dazzling show house of rock-and-roll memorabilia and a major attraction for Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor.

The contemporary and sculptural styled museum was designed by I.M. Pei, the architect responsible for the National Gallery of Art’s East Building in Washington and the expansion of the Louvre museum in Paris. “In designing the building, it was my intention to echo the energy of rock and roll. I have consciously used an architectural vocabulary that is bold and new,” Pei said.

One of the design team’s considerations was what type of flooring to use in this modern structure. It was determined early on that the floors in the museum had to be design worthy to match the vision set out by Pei. However, they were also required to be easy to clean, impact resistant, and sound reducing.

Stonblend RTZ flooring from Stonhard, Maple Shade, NJ, covers all public areas at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Working in stages, installers made the process invisible to museum staff and visitors. The result is a smooth, seamless, easy-to-maintain surface.

The original floors were rubber tile. After ten years of extensive daily wear and tear, along with the damp lakefront location of the facility, the floors were in dilapidated condition. The rubber tiles had delaminated. Moisture caused the tiles to peel away and the floor to have a worn and weathered appearance. Furthermore, the maintenance staff faced a significant cleaning challenge because of the dirt and moisture trapped between tiles. The decision makers for the new floors added to their list of criteria a flooring system that would address hydrostatic and osmotic problems.

Stonhard, Maple Shade, NJ, presented Stonblend RTZ, a 3/16-in. seamless, urethane system, infused with rubber aggregate chips to provide exceptional acoustic efficiency and ergonomic comfort, and a superior wear- and stain-resistant floor. The flooring would also compliment the dramatic design scheme of the museum. Multi-colored aggregate in a high-performance matrix created intricate patterns and a unique design style.

Stonhard began work in January 2005. The installation process was performed by the company’s installation team. This work was accomplished while the museum was open to the public by marking off small areas and completing the job in several stages. Masking and vigilantly draping installation areas prevented dust from landing or settling into exhibits or disrupting museum guests.

To prepare for the application, the installation team removed the existing tiles, stripped the substrate of all dirt, grease, and oils and flattened it to a smooth, dry surface using concrete blasting equipment, sanders, and grinders. An acrylic copolymer primer was applied to the substrate to produce a strong bond with the base prior to the flooring application.

Then Stonfil OP2, a three-component, polymer-modified grout, was applied. This product is a cementitious, osmotic-pressure-resistant grout developed for areas exposed to water. It permanently seals the concrete and protects against moisture. Stonblend RTZ, a three-part application incorporating curing agent, resin, and aggregate, was applied using a screed rake and spiked roller. A topcoat was rolled onto the surface. A 12-hr. cure time was required before foot traffic was permitted and in 48 hr. cleaning was allowed.

Working in stages not only ensured proper cure times but also made the process invisible to museum staff. The entire 42,500-sq.-ft. job was completed in March 2005.

Cleaning the new flooring proved to be exceptionally easy due to the smooth, seamless surface. The maintenance staff at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame no longer battles to clean between the tiles. All that is needed to keep …

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Carpet Strengthens Retailer’s Image

Starting from scratch can offer both a challenge and an opportunity. For J. C. Penney Co. Inc. executives the challenge was to find the right elements to bring their vision of a new corporate headquarters in Plano, TX, to reality. The opportunity was to create the type of headquarters that was functional and comfortable.

Among the goals when designing and building their headquarters was to create the sensation of being outdoors through the use of organic materials such as real woods; natural stones; and plant-filled, sky-lit atriums to bring in natural light. Executives sought a flexible dcor that would allow future changes. The company also felt flooring that was attractive, durable, and timeless in color, pattern, and design, was integral in reflecting the dcor planned for the facility. “When purchasing carpet, you must ensure you understand the specifications, fiber, dyes, manufacturing processes, style, everything. Although design is important, work with your designers to select colors and styles that will be timeless and not dated,” said Mary Knuff, building operations and planning manager for the home office.

J. C. Penney Co. Inc. achieved its goal of creating an inviting, comfortable workspace that continues today to receive enthusiastic approval from visitors and employees. Carpeting made from Antron carpet fiber is key to this success.

Building a new headquarters was a decision made by the company after moving from its corporate headquarters in New York to Dallas in 1987. J. C. Penney leased office space in Dallas for five years and then decided it needed to create a corporate home of its own from the ground up. After extensive research of other corporate headquarters and reviewing dozens of design concepts, J. C. Penney executed its vision of creating a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing workspace conducive to its employees’ productivity.

  1. C. Penney enlisted HKS Architects Inc.’s Dallas team to execute its vision. Once the design ideas were approved, extensive research on carpet selections was conducted. HKS developed carpet specifications and several mills competed for the project. The bids were evaluated on the specifications provided, appearance in comparison with a control sample, material and installation costs, and the recommended carpet maintenance program. Using this information, the installation team was able to conduct a total cost-of-ownership evaluation for each of the carpet choices.

Additionally, because J. C. Penney, a giant in the retail industry, has its own testing laboratory, the carpet was taken there and put through heavy use and abuse. It was trampled on, spilled on, and torn to test its stain resistance and durability, then cleaned. Carpet, constructed with Antron carpet fiber from Invista Commercial Flooring, Wichita, KS, was the standout performer and became the carpet of choice for the facility.

  1. C. Penney’s headquarters, an eight-building campus connected by a central atrium, is not only work space, but houses a fitness center, daycare facility, coffee shops, a cafeteria, and even a television studio. Carpet with Antron fiber now covers 1.3 million sq. ft. of the space, including the offices, fitness center, and atrium. Little feet tread on the carpeted hallways of the daycare facility. “Typically, carpet in such public areas lasts for approximately seven to ten years before it needs to be replaced,” Knuff said. “The carpet in the J. C. Penney headquarters has been down for 13 years and counting.”

In Knuff’s experience, “Maintenance is key. First and foremost, Antron carpet fiber is a genuinely good product. But if you want something to last, you take care of it. The carpet is vacuumed regularly and cleaned using the hot-water extraction method. High traffic areas, such as the daycare, are cleaned several times a year.”

Helping to maintain its appearance is the manner in which the carpet was manufactured. Antron uses a four-hole, hollow-filament shape that minimizes the soil-trapping area of the fiber and enhances soil resistance. The four holes refract and diffuse light to hide the effects of soil, while the smooth outer surface makes it easier for soil to be released during cleaning.

Thirteen years later, J. C. Penney’s headquarters is still beautiful and timeless, and the carpet “has proven to be a work horse. I don’t know of many installations that have 13-year-old carpet that still looks good. The colors are …

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Metal Composites Punch Up Exteriors

Smooth, sleek metal-composite panels offer an upscale look with minimal maintenance in today’s commercial building projects.


Toy Henson


Metal-composite materials are often used to give an office or commercial building a high-tech image, thanks to their ability to be bent, curved, and joined together in a limitless combination of geometric configurations. The smooth, sleek panels project a luxurious image when installed and are designed to provide excellent service with minimal maintenance for the life of a building. Cost-conscious building owners and facility managers are looking to this new generation of metal-composite wall material to make a compelling design statement for newly constructed or renovated buildings.

Cost-conscious building owners and facility managers look to metal-composite wall materials for a new generation of design products for new construction or renovation.

When introduced in North America almost 30 years ago, metal-composite materials were called aluminum-composite materials. The recent name change to metal-composite materials (MCM) reflects the introduction of new skin metals such as zinc, copper, stainless steel, and titanium. However, aluminum remains the predominant skin material.

Available in a variety of lengths and widths, MCM panels are formed by bonding two metal skins to a highly engineered plastic core. This creates a “sandwich” panel. The bonding process occurs under very precise conditions of temperature, pressure, and tension, resulting in a metal/plastic composite sheet that offers several advantages over a similar thickness of solid sheet metal.

Metal-composite materials are among the most consistent and precise metal construction products available. The sheets are flat when manufactured and remain flat after installation. There is no “oil-canning” or wrinkling because the skins are bonded to the core under tension, resulting in a balanced panel.

The panels have a consistent finish. Aluminum and steel versions can be finished in virtually any color. Developments in paint application technology ensure that finishes applied to aluminum and steel are consistent from one panel to the next. This prevents a building exterior from acquiring a checkerboard appearance. Panels made from natural materials including zinc, copper, and titanium do not require a finish to protect them from the elements, but the resulting finish may appear inconsistent.

Previously, the use of metal-composite panels was limited to high-end projects. Recent improvements in product technology, manufacturing, and installation techniques have allowed metal-composite panels to be more cost-competitive. The panels are now being installed on a wide variety of buildings and used in conjunction with various building applications, ranging from major wall-panel systems to cornices and canopies. Panels are also used to accent building materials such as glass and pre-cast panels.

Initial construction costs can often be reduced by using MCMs because the panels can typically be installed faster than exteriors such as pre-cast, granite, or brick. The lighter weight metal-composite panels can also save money by reducing the amount of structural steel needed to support these claddings.

Continuous improvements in paints and coatings have lowered maintenance costs. Today’s MCM panels retain their luster for decades, ensuring buildings maintain their aesthetic appeal and property value. That is especially important when it’s time to sell. A good-looking, well-maintained facility may not require expensive re-sale refurbishing.

Properly designed and installed, metal-composite panels provide a reliable building envelope that protects against air and water infiltration and guards against mold and mildew buildup. The panels also are environmentally responsible and sustainable, as evidenced by the fact that approximately 70% of an aluminum-composite wall panel is manufactured from recycled content.…

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What Is A Cool Roof, And How Do I Get One?

Cool roofing is a hot trend in green building.


Cary Black, Chemical Fabrics and Film Associatio


Lowered air-conditioning demand. Reduced urban heat-island effect. Cool roofing can deliver both of these features to the environmentally conscious specifier or owner.

Replacing St. John’s Regional Medical Center’s existing built-up roof involved a tear-off and installation of a watertight, reflective-vinyl roof and a cellular lightweight concrete (CLWC) system that provided superior insulation.

Reflective, or cool, roofing delivers high solar reflectance and thermal emittance values. Solar reflectance, also known as albedo, is a measure of a material’s ability to reflect the visible, infrared, and ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight. Thermal emittance is a measure of a material’s ability to release absorbed, or non-reflected, heat. Both properties are measured on a scale of 0 to 1; the coolest roofs have the highest values. A third measure, solar reflectance index (SRI), may be used, and represents solar reflectance and emittance in a single value.

As one of the fastest-growing building and construction trends today, owners of large commercial buildings have more reasons than ever to incorporate cool roofs into their building design. It is a sure-fire way to reduce heat gain in interior spaces and curb the roofing surface’s contribution to the urban heat-island effect. That effect consists of the measurable increase in ambient urban air temperature that comes when natural vegetation in the environment is replaced with heat-absorbing roofs, roads, and parking surfaces.

What is a cool roof?

At present, there is no industry-wide definition of cool roofs, but many sustainable-construction guidance documents and standards recommend them. Reflective roofing technologies are increasingly called for in federal, state, and local energy codes, most notably California’s building energy code, Title 24. The code prescribes a cool roof for many low-slope, non-residential applications, and specifiers are turning to the Cool Roof Rating Council’s (CRRC, Oakland, CA) product-rating database to help make purchasing decisions.

CRRC measures the solar reflectance and thermal emittance of roofing products, and reports information using an online directory ( Each year, CRRC conducts random testing to ensure the credibility of the directory. The program allows manufacturers and sellers to label their roofing products according to the specific properties CRRC measures. Roofs qualifying for Title 24 in California must be tested by a CRRC-approved lab and receive a CRRC label. CRRC does not specify minimum requirements for solar reflectance or thermal emittance, however.

A product rating system that does specify minimum requirements is Energy Star, the joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, and the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington, designed to help businesses and consumers make energy-efficient product choices.

For low-slope roof applications, a roof product qualifying for the Energy Star label under its Roof Products Program must have an initial solar reflectivity of at least 0.65, and weathered reflectance of at least 0.50. Emittance is not a current criterion for this program, although that may change. Title 24’s requirements, in comparison, call for initial thermal emittance of 0.75 or better, and initial solar reflectance of 0.70 or better. Beginning in August 2009, aged reflectance-0.55-will be used for products that are CRRC-registered.

How cool makes a difference

How can you get a quantitative analysis of the potential energy savings for a building without performing a detailed building-energy simulation? Simple web-based tools developed by federal agencies can help assign an estimated value on the annual energy savings that can accrue during the life of a typical white reflective roof vs. a non-reflective black roof. EPA’s Roofing Comparison Calculator calculates the net cooling savings from installing an Energy Star-labeled roof product on an air-conditioned building, and considers any resulting differences in heating costs. The U.S. Dept. of Energy also has a calculator tool. These calculators can be accessed at in the Cool Roofing section.

Navigating the Incentives

The Obama Administration has promised a significantly heightened emphasis on green-building technologies, increasing the likelihood of further interest in cool roofing. Any initiatives will build on the economic stimulus initiatives of the 110th Congress which, using the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, extended until 2014 the federal tax deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings with qualifying systems, including roofs. The amount deductible is as much as

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Valve Nails Water Hammer

Utah Valley State College used flush valves from Moen to put its water-hammer problem to rest.


Some pipes, such as organ and vocal, are meant to be heard. Others, namely plumbing pipes, are not.

Utah Valley State College, Orem, UT, was facing the latter type of pipe noise. Water hammer became a problem in the basement restoration of the main education building used by many of the school’s 25,000 students. Any time one of the five basement urinals was flushed, water hammer occurred.

FreeHand electronic flush valves were installed to quiet the water hammer problem in basement restrooms.

Water hammer happens when toilets or urinals are flushed and a pipe is suddenly closed at the outlet (downstream). The resulting mass of water before the closure is still moving forward with some velocity, building up high pressure with shock waves that cause the noise. Left unaddressed, the constant excess pressure can lead to bursting pipes and result in structural damage.

The maintenance crew’s first effort to combat the problem was to replace the flush valves, but the noise did not subside. Despite using a variety of techniques and applications to alleviate the problem, including the installation of water-hammer arrestors, expansion tanks, and even heavier diaphragms, the noise continued.

Industrial plumbing and piping distributor Mountainland Supply Co., Orem, UT, recommended a FreeHand electronic flush valve from Moen Inc., North Olmsted, OH. The flush valve features an advanced sensor-eye that offers reliable and hygienic service. In addition, the FreeHand sensor flush valves have a slow-closing piston flush mechanism and operating pressures that range from 10 to 120 psi.

After installation of just one sensor valve, the water-hammer noise stopped completely. The piston allows just the right amount of water through the system, while adapting to a range of pressures to eliminate water surge and stabilize the entire system.

Since installing the FreeHand flush valves in the college’s bathroom, no maintenance has been required and water hammer has been eliminated. With only four maintenance workers for the campus, finding reliable products is a must. Because the Moen flush valve worked so well, maintenance workers have ordered 70 more valves to retrofit the remaining restrooms in the education building.…

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Upgrade to Addressable Fire Alarms

This alarm-system technology was developed in response to the need to announce a fire or emergency condition in a shorter time, as dictated by new Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Northbrook, IL, requirements. These new requirements are an outgrowth of guidelines set forth by organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.

Ultimately, the new UL requirements reflect the improved standards and forward-thinking approaches that the fire-protection industry as a whole seeks to embrace.

One of the new requirements states that notification circuits, which contain horns, speakers, and strobe lights, must be activated within 10 sec. from the time of indication, i.e., a detector sensing smoke. To meet this standard required a new polling protocol that was capable of polling ten devices at a time. This results in the ability to notify building occupants ten times faster than with single-device polling technology.

Further expanding the capability of technology, when 12-AWG, fire-power-limited riser or fire-power-limited plenum wire is installed, this protocol can work over a system loop equipped with as much as 10,000 ft. of wire. As a result, the MS-9600LS fire-control panel, which accommodates 318 devices on each of two loops (198 of which can be detectors), can incorporate 636 total devices. This is more than sufficient to protect most mid- to large-sized facilities.

The LiteSpeed system also makes it easier to incorporate new device types. In conventional addressable systems, devices make use of a “smart head,” equipped with a microprocessor. The decision to sound an alarm is made in the detector head. Should the user wish to add a new feature to the system, each of the device heads must be taken down and reprogrammed.

Conversely, with LiteSpeed-enabled products, devices are used solely as data collectors. The alarm is not processed in the device head but rather in the control panel, based on the digital data values sent by the device. Adding a system-wide feature requires some simple reprogramming and updating in the panel software. Whether it’s an addressable ion detector, smoke detector, or pull station, adding it to the system is far less time consuming and costly.

Troubleshooting and installation are also relatively easy. Once all the devices are addressed and connected, the installer simply touches the Auto Program button. The system sends out a signal that will locate and identify all attached devices. If there is a problem with a device, or even if two devices are similarly addressed (convincing the system that there is a duplicate, unnecessary device), the system will quickly find it.

The LiteSpeed technology makes upgrading to an addressable system much more approachable for facility owners from installation and maintenance perspectives. The faster occupant notification also provides an improved sense of security for the building occupants.…

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Control Daylight, Save Money

A properly designed and tested daylight-control system can result in energy savings approaching 70% in most commercial buildings.


Pekka Hakkarainen


Commercial buildings are forced to face the high cost of energy every day. It’s the nature of operating a business. Despite the fact that most lighting fixtures in schools, offices, and retail stores use energy-efficient fluorescent lamps, lighting remains the single largest source of energy consumption for these buildings, accounting for 35% to 65% of overall energy use.

In a typical commercial building, lighting consumes the greatest amount of energy, ranging from 35% to 65%.

The good news is that there are several ways to reduce and manage the amount of energy used by a facility, as well as the associated operating costs. One of the most effective strategies for achieving energy efficiency is to include a daylighting-control system into a building’s plans.

Despite the high cost of energy, electric light typically is wasted by being operated at 100% of capacity all day, even when there is available sunlight to offset the need for full output. This is an extremely uneconomical practice, especially during peak hours when electricity and corresponding demand charges are high. Daylighting design takes advantage of the available sunlight, making it possible to reduce electric light levels and save energy.

Daylighting was once considered merely a method for bringing more sunlight into a building using architectural features such as light shelves, large window-to-wall ratios, and skylights. Now, however, daylighting is more accurately described as a comprehensive design technique in which the goal is to create an efficient lighting system around the concept of incorporating as much daylight as possible, thereby reducing or supplementing the need for electric light. Effective daylighting systems today integrate with lighting control and controllable window systems to bring light into a building and to effectively manage that light.

Saving energy

Sustainable design is no longer an option for many commercial projects-especially as green building codes and guidelines become more prevalent. The federal energy bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush on August 8, 2005, supports sustainable design by offering tax deductions for constructing energy-efficient commercial buildings. The legislation provides a tax deduction of as much as $1.80/sq. ft. for new or renovated buildings that exceed the ASHRAE 90.1-2001 standard by 50%, with additional deductions for lighting, HVAC systems, and the building envelope. Lighting improvements alone can save building owners $0.60/sq. ft.

California actually mandates the use of skylights and daylighting-control systems in single-story commercial buildings with a ceiling height greater than 15 ft. in the 2005 edition of Title 24, the state’s energy code.

Retail buildings that incorporate high-performance designs and energy-efficient lighting systems can actually reduce energy consumption by 50%, when compared with conventional building designs, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. By effectively managing both sunlight and electric light, typically by integrating daylighting design with a quality lighting-control system, such as fluorescent lighting control with digital dimmable ballasts, facilities can save as much as 70% of current energy use.

Productivity and sales

Beyond saving energy by taking advantage of available sunlight, facilities can actually improve productivity, satisfaction, and sales while improving the overall health and morale of the building’s occupants.

Dozens of studies have confirmed that classrooms are more effective learning environments with greater amounts of daylight. Likewise, office environments and employee productivity have been shown to directly improve with the proper balance of daylight and electric light in the workplace. Some studies show that bringing more daylight into retail stores has a positive effect on sales.

The cost of an employee (including salary, benefits, and overhead) far exceeds the energy cost in any building. That is why ergonomic lighting-lighting that is designed and installed in a way that considers the physical and psychological needs of the occupants-pays big dividends for companies today.


Due to its remarkable evolution over the past five years or so, daylighting design has garnered much attention in the commercial-building arena. Effective daylighting systems today provide a comprehensive and integrated system for balancing building-wide efficiency by regulating an appropriate balance between natural and artificial light levels within the interior of a building.

Integrated daylighting-control systems consist of controllable lighting fixtures (such …

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Four Steps to a Maintenance-Free Roof

Though no roof is going to be maintenance free throughout its life, taking these four basic steps prior to roof-system purchase and installation can significantly reduce life-cycle costs.


Gary Whittemore, Sarnafil Inc.


Most building owners think about their roof only when theres a problemusually a leak. By that time, water has already caused damage to valuable merchandise, slowed production, and/or caused a slip-and-fall accident. Once the damage is done, all the building owner can do is call a roofing contractor and get the roof repaired.

Roof warranties are only useful if a problem is not the result of a warranty exclusion and basic maintenance is done throughout the roofs life. By taking some basic preventive steps during roof installation, maximum life can be realized.

To avoid these costly, and often emergency, situations, some building owners invest in preventive roof maintenance programs, intended to catch minor problems before they lead to serious roof damage. But these seem expensive, given that most building owners have already purchased a 10-, 15-, or 20-yr. warranty on the roof system. What many building owners dont understand is that warranties often contain exclusions and require the owner to properly maintain the roof to validate the warranty.

Is there such a thing as a maintenance-free roof? The answer is, almost. Every roof system needs to be maintained in some way. For example, leaves and debris need to be cleaned from drains so water doesnt pool on a flat roof. However, by following four basic stepsgetting involved in the roofing process, selecting a reliable roof system from a proven manufacturer, making sure the roof is properly designed, and choosing an applicator who is trained and approved as one of the manufacturers finest installersyou can virtually eliminate roof maintenance.

Step 1: Get involved and stay involved

Too often, building owners dont do their homework before selecting a roofing solution. They may rely on others, such as a contractor, architect, consultant, or purchasing department, to make the decisions. It is always better for the building owner to become educated so he or she can help make the purchasing decisions throughout the project. Its the building owner who has to live with the end result.

Step 2: Select a quality roof system from a reliable manufacturer

With a multitude of roof membranes from which to choose, it may seem difficult to select one that will provide you with years, or even decades, of maintenance-free performance. The key is to look for a roof manufacturer that has a proven track record; has been producing roof membranes using the same formula for years; and can provide you with a list of completed projects of a similar size, system, location, and scope as your own.

Make sure the manufacturer is well-known in the industry and respected by top roofing contractors. The best contractors gravitate toward the best products, because they know that theyll perform for decades. The manufacturer should also have local, direct field technicians available to assist with the job start and to conduct final inspections.

A quality roof system is also one that:

  • Is easy to inspect and repair if needed. Exposed, or non-ballasted, roof systems, such as those that are adhered or mechanically attached, are best.
  • Doesnt require recoating or resurfacing. To perform well over the long run, some roof systems need to be periodically rejuvenated, a significant maintenance cost.
  • Has hot-air-welded seams. Seams sealed with adhesives or tapes are known to become maintenance issues later on. Hot-air-welded seams, on the other hand, are stronger than the membrane itself and can withstand wind, weather, and time.

To win a job, general contractors or roofing contractors may practice whats called value engineering, a process in which they present a less expensive and, often inferior, product to the one specified. Although the upfront cost savings may seem appealing, in the long run the less expensive alternative may also have a shorter life cycle or rely on inferior details, resulting in more maintenance.

Step 3: Make sure your roof is properly designed

By taking four basic steps, building owners and/or builders can assure themselves of getting maximum life out of a roofing system, while keeping maintenance to a minimum. The four steps
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Fire Panel Flexibility Protects Hotel Guests

The flexibility of the Notifier fire alarm system is providing strict fire protection guidelines for Extended Stay America hotels.


The uncommon hospitality provided by Extended Stay America, Spartanburg, SC, at each of its hotels nationwide makes guests feel right at home, even when home is thousands of miles away. In fact, there are only a few things not welcome with open arms at Extended Stays hotels and fire is at the top of the list.

More than 100 of Extended Stay Americas hotels use the Notifier NFS-640 intelligent fire alarm control panel, coupled with Acclimate Plus detectors. The panel uses FlashScan technology, which is a signaling-line-circuit (SLC) protocol with loop capacity of up to 318 devices.

Perhaps the most important element in the companys success since its inception in 1995 is the level of hospitality each and every hotel offers. In fact, with an average stay of three-to-eight weeks per guest at its various properties, Extended Stay America prides itself on providing a truly home-like environment.

Given the size and value of the business it is protectingnot to mention the personal safety it insists on providing to its guestsExtended Stay places a high premium on the effectiveness of its fire-detection systems. Thats why 100 of the companys hotels are currently using fire panels from Notifier, Northford, CT, as the foundation of their fire-detection system.

The decision to make Notifier the fire-detection system of choice was not made haphazardly. We took at least one fire panel from every manufacturer in the industry, said Jon Larson, national fire protection manager. We then put them all to the test, simulating the kind of abuse they might receive from hotel guests to see which ones best met our requirements for reliability, durability, and ease of use. By far, Notifier came out on top, he said. Larson writes the specifications for life-safety equipment in all of the companys hotels. We also examined the cost of maintenance, and Notifier products were the least expensive to maintain, he added.

Charles W. Barrett, president of Fire Systems Inc. (FSI), Fair Haven, MA, a Notifier engineered systems distributor, has worked on all of Extended Stays New England properties. Over the past five years, his company has installed Notifier products in hotels located in Tewksbury, Braintree, and Norton, MA, and in East Providence and Warwick, RI. FSI has also recently been awarded the test/inspection and service contract for all the Extended Stay America facilities in the northeastern part of the country. Based on his experience, Barrett sums up what he feels is Notifiers greatest advantage in a single word: flexibility.

Each project [in the New England area] required field engineering changes due to local requirements that the Notifier product could easily accommodate, Barrett said. In addition, special application devices, such as carbon monoxide detectors, were easily added and monitored by the fire alarm, which causes a supervisory condition when activated.

The NFS-640 allows as many as 636 points per control panel and functions separately or as part of a network using a network-control station. The Acclimate Plus detectors are multi-criteria-technology smoke detectors with the enhanced capabilities of FlashScan technology, which groups and scans ten devices at a time. The detectors can report an alarm within 1 sec. and turn on all outputs within 2 sec.

Many of the New England properties feature the NFS-640 intelligent fire alarm control panel, coupled with Acclimate Plus detectors. The panel has a modular design that makes it extremely flexible for a variety of applications. Using FlashScan technology, a signaling-line-circuit (SLC) protocol with increased loop capacity of up to 318 devices, the panel offers fast polling and response time, actually exceeding worldwide code requirements. The NFS-640 comes standard as one loop, but is easily expandable to two, which allows as many as 636 points per control panel. The panels function separately or communicate as a network using a network-control station. The station provides operators with text and graphic annunciation of network activity and panel programming.

The Acclimate Plus detectors are multi-criteria-technology smoke detectors with the enhanced capabilities of FlashScan technology. FlashScan protocol groups and scans ten devices at a time. By constantly monitoring its environment for temperature, smoke, electrical noise, and air particulate levels, …

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Isolate Cracks, Set Tile, Keep Mall Open

Renovating Genessee Valley Center, Flint, MI, involved replacing the existing floor with a new tile floor. A crack-isolation system made work possible at night so the floor could be used by shoppers during the day.

When the management of Genesee Valley Center, Flint, MI, started planning a complete interior renovation, they wanted to make sure that everything-including the floors-contributed to what its marketing slogan describes as a “GeneSEE Experience.” At 1.3 million sq. ft., Genesee Valley Center is the largest regional shopping center north of Detroit. The enclosed center features 130 stores.


The architect of record, JPRA Architects, Farmington Hills, MI, partnered with Communication Arts of Boulder, CO, to design the renovation project with a fresh look in mind. The renovation involved more than 85,000 sq. ft., including all of the concourses and court areas. The existing flooring was replaced by new carpet and ceramic tile. The total tiled area was 46,359 sq. ft.


To achieve a distinctive look in the flooring, the architects fashioned a complex design pattern using tile sizes of 4 x 18, 9 x 18, and 18 x 18 in. The pattern, consisting of alternating bands of tile from manufacturer Ceramic Technics, Alpharetta, GA, in the colors of titanium sand, quartz, giallo, and earth, circulated around the perimeter and throughout the court areas.


Achieving this functional beauty wasn’t without challenges. Crews had to remove existing tile and terrazzo flooring that was more than 30 years old before the new tile could be installed. Then, the underlying concrete was cleaned, patched, and leveled to provide a sound substrate.


Cracks in the substrate-both visible and potential-also had to be addressed before the new tile installation could begin. Shrinkage cracks, which naturally occur as concrete substrates dry over time, can migrate upward and cause new tile to crack. The tile also had to be protected from control joints that builders placed in the concrete substrate to channel random shrinkage cracks.


Additionally, the floor installation had to move quickly. Genesee Valley Center management required all tile flooring work, including demolition, laying new mortar, setting tile, and grouting, to be conducted while the mall was closed, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. The work was scheduled so that only small sections of the mall were closed off at any given time. In a business where profits can vanish with the slightest miscalculation, tile contractors are under the gun to get the most efficiency out of materials and labor. Selecting a crack-isolation format was among the important decisions.


Traditional membrane crack-isolation formats require at least two steps-installing the membrane and troweling the mortar-before setting the tile. Some formats require a third primer layer. Membrane crack-isolation systems require 4 to 16 hr. between application and the setting of tile. Then, another wait of at least 12 hr. is needed for the tile to cure before it can be grouted.


“When you use a sheet membrane to isolate cracks, it requires sheeting material and mortar to get it done. The tile setters are having to put down the membrane and then wait to set the tile,” said Larry Noyce, president of Precision Ceramic Tile, Burton, MI.


Considering the available tile-setting options and the rigid time constraint involved, JPRA Architects specified the TEC brand of 1Flex Fast Set crack-isolation mortar from Specialty Construction Brands, Arlington Heights, IL, to set the tile. 1Flex Fast Set is a single-component modified polymer mortar that acts as a tile-setting mortar and a crack-isolation system that protects against cracking to a depth of 1/8 in. It makes it possible to isolate cracks and set tile in a single step. 1Flex Fast Set works by adding a blend of flexible polymers to high-strength cement-as much as 10 times the polymer concentration of standard latex mortars. It contains a blend of spray-dried polymers and hydraulic cement, which allows grout to be applied within 4 hr. of setting tile, much sooner than normal set time.


Each section of the mall’s tile installation was choreographed over the course of two nights. A demolition crew would remove the existing tile, prepare the substrate, and reopen the floor to light foot traffic the next day. The following evening, the installers would isolate cracks and set the …

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