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Campus Curation

The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine And Health Turns To Spray Foam For A Roofing Solution on Campus

By Jourdan Porter


Best known for sundrenched skies and fiery calefaction, Arizona residents are no strangers to the imperative need for insulation in Southwest temperatures to keep cool while indoors. Since 1993, the arid climate of Tempe, Arizona has been home to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health (SCNM) campus training over 1,000 physicians in a unique type of medicine. The teachings of naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness, treating the underlying causes of patient’s conditions and focusing on prevention and self-care. Unfortunately, the SCNM Medical Center had been experiencing issues with leaks in their roofing. With 27 exam rooms, surgery rooms, a medicinary, a lab, as well as hydrotherapy and neurofeedback facilities, this problem was detrimental to the center. The leakage not only created water damage to the building, but it also caused an unsafe environment for the patients. With a problem created and already two built-up roofs (BUR) installed in the medical center, SCNM went looking for a new solution.

Recently, a brand-new academic facility had been built on campus with a spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roof and the college was thrilled with the results. Because of the positive response to the SPF system, SCNM brought back Arizona Foam & Spray (AFS), the spray foam roofing contractor of the academic facility project, to assess the condition of the medical building in order to determine if an SPF roofing system would be the best solution to their problem. Due to the roofing already having two BUR layers previously installed, it was questionable whether the roofs would need to be removed prior to the SPF application. After thorough inspection, AFS determined that the SPF would be safe to apply without removal.

When AFS first inspected the roof, it was covered with thick cable and telephone lines on metal tracks, and large, antiquated satellites. Although SPF could easily seal all of these roof penetrations, it was decided that this was an opportunity to clean up the building. This entailed the removal of telephone lines that were no longer in service; this would decrease the number of potential leak penetrations. The space that was left, would be filled with SPF as needed. Then began the first step to fixing the medical center’s leak problem.

Since the project entailed reroofing an existing structure, the entire roof was powerwashed prior to the application of any products. AFS took safety precautions that required a three-fold protection plan due to the low parapet and bare edges of the roof. Crewmembers applying foam tied off to the roof with anchors and used stanchions and barrier tape for safety. AFS had a dedicated spotter at all times during the application. The PPE worn by the AFS crew consisted of Tyvek suits, gloves, and respirators. Since the medical center was located near an apartment and a large parking garage, the crew monitored wind speeds throughout the job, using screens when necessary, in order to reduce overspray. The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units in the building were turned off during the job and plastic was applied to mask the machinery from overspray damage. These precautions kept the interior of the medical center free from chemical exposure during the process and allowed clinical training and patient treatment to continue with minimal disruption.

With a week to complete the 17,760 square-foot roofing project, SPF proved to be the best product to complete the job within deadline. “The lightweight nature of the SPF was perfect for this project,” states Tony Mackelprang, project manager of AFS. “With two BUR roofs already in place, the logistics associated with a tear-off project would have been a nightmare given the extra costs, debris, noise, and equipment that would have been needed. SPF allowed us to complete the job with only five percent of the disruption that a new roofing installation would have entailed.”

To increase the adhesion to the SPF, AFS primed the surfaces with 24 mils of SWD Urethane’s Quik-Shield 1000. Equipped with a Graco GX-7 spray gun and a Graco Reactor 2 E-30 proportioner, the AFS crew installed 1.5 inches of Quik-Shield 125, a 2.5 lb. closed-cell foam made by SWD Urethane. The foam was sprayed up the parapet walls and tapered to zero at the top, fitting smoothly under the edge of the parapet cap. AFS’s on-site crew, who also specializes in metal work, removed all of the existing metal copings and replaced them with custom copings with a larger back panel. This ensured that the foam beneath the coping would remain in place for an extended period without water penetration.

AFS installed custom metal copings to the parapet walls with SPF to ensure the structure would remain in place with no water penetration. With several antiquated satellites already in place, the crew had to work meticulously around the machinery during application

“Because the spray foam is originally a liquid, it is able to be worked into any cracks, crevasses, seams, and joints. When it becomes a solid, it stands out in about 90 seconds to the full thickness as a stable, solid structure. Those features in themselves make this system the most effective waterproofing agent available in the roofing industry,” affirms Mackelprang. Once the SPF had cured, the AFS crew installed eight mils of SWD’s Quik-Shield 1929F tan acrylic base coat. Shortly after the base coat was applied, the weather took a turn for the worse with heavy rains, so during the down time the crew inspected the roof for proper drainage. Due to this natural assessment, the team was able to detect a few areas that needed to be adjusted to mitigate ponding. In order to fix the expanses, AFS removed the initial top layer of foam, added additional foam where it was needed, and reapplied the acrylic base coat. Next, the AFS crew applied 16 mils of Quik-Shield 1929F white acrylic top coat, using a crosshatching technique. The application of the white acrylic top coat ensured a smooth, solid covering of the roofing surface providing optimal insulation due to the reflectiveness of the product. Both coats were applied with a Graco Bulldog Air Motor coating pump. For additional roof top protection, limestone granules were broadcast with the use of a conical hopper at a rate of 30 pounds per 100 square feet to finish off the job.

SCNM saw a huge value in the installation of the spray foam roof. Significant money was saved by eliminating the need for a new roof, but the college also saw the performance longevity of the SPF. They will also see further savings in the future due to the 10 year “No-Leak” warranty that was provided by AFS, although it is estimated that, with proper maintenance, the roof could easily last well over 25 years. The money saved by utilizing the SPF roofing system was redistributed to the free naturopathic health care community programs that SCMN provides.

AFS installed custom metal copings to the parapet walls with SPF to ensure the structure would remain in place with no water penetration. With several antiquated satellites already in place, the crew had to work meticulously around the machinery during application

The value of having a leak-free SPF roof exceeds the monetary value, as the building is actively used for physician training and patient treatment. Leaks would have disrupted schedules, as well as caused possible contamination in the labs and medicinary. With those problems now abated, all who inhabit the medical center are ensured a durable, insulated structure to work and teach in. Mackelprang confirms SCNM’s enthusiasm for the fix, “The life cycle cost is exceptional. The durability is exceptional. The integrity is exceptional. SPF performs in stellar fashion.” •


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Photos courtesy of Jessica Grayek, SWD Urethane

Click here to check out another project completed by Arizona Foam and Spray and SWD Urethane in a Harley-Davidson facility.

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