All Weather Insulated Panels
The OneDek™ 2-Step Roof System Brings Significant, Long-Term Savings.
By Ted Johnson
When it comes to completing a project on time and under budget, owners and construction managers focus on getting a large building “dried in.” That’s the stage when the roof has been protected and all the walls, doors and windows are in place. Then the building is “dry inside” and progress continues regardless of weather.
It’s a crucial step in the success of a project, but to William Lowery, president of All Weather Insulated Panels (AWIP), the traditional way commercial buildings with “low-slope” or flat roofs were assembled struck him as slow, costly and thus detrimental to the bottom line.
As long-time innovators of insulated metal panels (IMPs), Lowery and the AWIP Research & Development staff have developed a roof system for commercial- and industrial-use projects that provides long-term energy efficiency while bringing significant savings during installation. Called OneDek™, it began shipping in 2018 as a roof system that meets or exceeds all of the physical properties of a traditional insulated roof assembly.
“What’s the term? We’re a disruptor,” Lowery says. “The OneDek™ system is better. It’s technologically advanced compared with traditional roof assemblies. Our RD1 roof deck panels can vary from two to six inches in thickness and carry an R value up to 50 to meet the strictest environmental regulations. And the RD1 acts as the perfect substrate for a TPO or PVS membrane to complete the OneDek™ system. This product will change the way many commercial buildings are built.”
Constant Search For Energy Efficiency
All Weather Insulated Panels is based in northern California, and Lowery’s IMP history originated in Modesto, which is in the heart of California’s Central Valley. Growers and food processors there constantly search for the most efficient means to store fruit, vegetables and perishable products in an optimal environment while keeping energy costs to a minimum regardless of varying – and sometimes extreme – interior-to-exterior temperature differentials. Here is where IMPs excel over other building components.
These “sandwich-style” building composites measure to 60 feet long and consist of closed-cell polyisocyanurate foam encased by two pieces of light gauge factory-coated steel. The combination of these components result in lightweight, high-strength building modules with exceptional thermal characteristics compared with antiquated field-assembled building components for wall and roof construction.
In Europe, IMP use comprises about 50 percent of building projects in the commercial-industrial category.
In North America, IMPs, though growing, remain in the minority – about one in 10 projects use them. More telling, however, is that the vast majority of IMPs in Europe are for roof applications. In America, it’s walls.
That discrepancy is attributable to the fact that energy and raw material costs are considerably higher in Europe. Since the roof poses the greatest energy-loss threat to the building’s “thermal envelope,” IMPs are considered an economical necessity in Europe.
Products from AWIP dramatically improve the efficiency of the building’s thermal envelope. Buildings utilizing AWIP panels can use up to two-thirds less energy compared to many traditional field assemblies. In California, thermal security is very much needed in one well-known segment of the economy: winemaking.
Nearly 100 wineries in California employ AWIP panels in their structures. Note that these facilities have contrasting needs: A charming exterior with high visual appeal on buildings that need constant, secure interior temperature and humidity control.
For large commercial buildings in North America, the OneDek™ system likewise offers the best way to secure the building’s energy efficiency but also provides significant savings during its installation.
Two Is Better Than Three
Traditional low-slope roof systems are assembled in three steps. First, metal decking is secured to the building’s roof supports. Step 2 is rigid insulation board layered, staggered and fastened atop the decking, after which (Step 3) a waterproof membrane is added.
The costly, time-consuming second step of adding rigid board insulation is eliminated with AWIP’s OneDek™ roof system. On a 100,000- square-foot roof typically found on cold storage and warehouse buildings, up to 20,000 fasteners and plates are needed to secure the insulation, which may take two crews of five up to two weeks to complete.
It is common for large projects to carry costs up to $1 million a week, so two weeks’ worth of savings on labor and equipment goes a long way to making the project a success.
The inclusion of the OneDek™ system for any low-slope (2-degrees or less) roofing project eliminates that time-consuming, labor-intensive step. “The key is that we do it by factory-forming the insulation and steel deck components into a single composite product,” Lowery says.
The roll-formed tongue-and-groove joinery of the RD1 panels enables long length panels to slide together and be mechanically attached to the roof’s secondary structural supports, with fastening patterns depending on specific project requirements. Then the white PVC or TPO waterproofing membrane is either installed mechanically onto the 22ga RD1 deck surface or adhered (or self-adhered) to the factory-primed surface.
“It’s the labor savings and physical properties that make OneDek™ far superior to traditional roofs in this sector of the construction industry,” Lowery says simply.
Savings Beyond Thermal Security
Having served positions with Firestone Building Products, Knauf Insulation and Kingspan, Product Manager Mark Munley has more than three decades in commercial roofing materials. He’s dealt with energy conservation and environmental issues across North America, the Caribbean and Asia. He has actively participated on numerous sustainability initiatives within the commercial building sector, participated on LEED Gold and Platinum projects and has developed new service programs and product offerings for national building owners.
In the OneDek™ system, Munley sees a revolutionary product, and it is the reason why he is its product manager for AWIP. “I consider OneDek™ the most significant development within the commercial roofing space during my career,” Munley says.
OneDek™ requires less than one half of the fasteners, cutting hundreds of labor hours out of installation time as well as reducing equipment rental costs. Also, the RD1 panels are a “one-time” load-and-ship product. Traditional built-up roofs require trucks to carry the steel deck then more trucks to carry the insulation board. The RD1 panels in the OneDek™ system arrive ready for installation.
With conventional insulation board, workers have to be very careful not to crack or damage the insulation. There’s little fear of damaging the OneDek™ foam insulation because it’s encased in steel. But the advantages don’t stop there:
• The OneDek™ roof system has been tested for fire, wind uplift, thermal integrity, deflection and diaphragm shear resistance, the latter exceeding typical performance levels of 22-gauge 1.5-inch deep B deck.
• The RD1 deck component of the OneDek™ roof system can be installed in inclement weather unlike traditional “built-up” roof assemblies, whose insulation board cannot be applied in rain, which often means less productive construction time. And it’s OK for a OneDek™ roof system to be phased.
• Installation crews and third-party trades gain added safety in knowing they can walk on the panels without fear of damaging the rigid insulation or the substrate. That security can lead to fewer accidents, which can cut down on a company’s insurance costs.
• The RDI panels have less deflection than traditional roof assemblies, reducing risk of damage during installation.
• The USDA acceptable factory applied-white paint finish on the interior of OneDek™ RD1 panels eliminates post painting, inhibits corrosion and lowers the interior lighting requirement compared to standard galvanized steel finish.
Lowery believes so much in the OneDek™ system that an industry exclusive, “top-to-bottom” 20-year warranty is available and includes the deck, thermal package and waterproofing membrane. This offer is a first in this sector and the only true system warranty available to building owners.
The commercial building sector is by nature a tradition-oriented business. Building components evolve over time, and trusted ways become the norm for years and years. Munley knows that the OneDek™ system can indeed come across as revolutionary, which can make owners and project managers naturally skeptical.
“The domestic commercial roofing sector is slow to adopt new technology and change,” Munley says. “However, as R Values and higher wind-uplift requirements are regulated into code, the value proposition associated with insulated metal roof decks and systems such as OneDek™ will become very apparent.”
In fact, Lowery began developing the OneDek™ system more than 15 years ago. “It was pretty simple,” Lowery explains. “I knew the composite panel business. I had experience in roofing. It was easy to make the leap to create a composite roof deck with the properties that compete with and exceed traditionally constructed roof systems.”
Before bringing this type of product to market, a battery of tests and approvals had to be conducted to earn structural, safety and fire ratings. The company was close to initiating tests when the economy began to falter in 2008. Now that the economy is strong again Lowery feels the time is ripe for OneDek’s introduction to the market.
Ironically, the building industry finds itself beset with a problem that apparently stems from a high-revving economy: Contractors find it difficult to attract and maintain a qualified labor force. Not having enough laborers or constantly getting new workers trained and up to speed can increase the chances of a project not coming in on time or within budget.
To that, Munley says the OneDek™ system makes it easier to install than the old roof assemblies.
How so? Aside from being relatively lightweight and easy to handle, which means less chance for injury to workers and damage to the panels, no special tools are required. The panels snap together, in a tongue and groove fashion, in less time and are comparatively easy to secure.
“OneDek™ is a cost competitive solution that will meet the performance needs of design professionals and architects,” Munley added. “It will also provide the installation community with an efficient, safe and durable commercial roofing system that will last multiple generations.”
Becoming Very Clear
Both Lowery and Munley feel that roofing systems like OneDek™ will be the industry norm relatively soon. Long-term energy efficiency, improved interior environmental control and sizable cost savings during installation boost the chances large construction projects are a success.
“Look at all the savings,” Lowery pointed out, “Soon enough, it will become very clear that to the industry at large that our composite roof solution is a better mousetrap. It’s a superior technology that we can put to use right now. Some may call it a paradigm shift. One-Dek™ may not fit 100 percent of the low slope roof types out there, but it’s going to enjoy a significant market share”.