Susquehanna Bancshares Discovers Promising Savings Program On The Roof

For any company providing financial advice and investment services, it’s important to demonstrate financial smarts whenever possible to both customers and shareholders. So when Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. of Lititz, PA found that a Republic Powdered Metals roof coating system could save them hundreds of thousands of dollars on a weathered EPDM roof and extend its life for another 12 years, the company was impressed.

After 18 years, the roof of the renovated 19th century mill, now the headquarters for regional financial services company Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc., had been repaired several times within 24 months.

“The owners were looking for options,” said Steve Ballentine, who had recently joined the sales/technical staff of Gooding, Simpson & Mackes, Inc. (GSM) of Ephrata, PA, the roofing contractor chosen to work on numerous Susquehanna roofing projects in the south central Pennsylvania area.

Ballentine met with Nathaniel Baum, facility help desk supervisor at Susquehanna Bancshares’ headquarters, to discuss those options after walking the roof—not your typical commercial flat EPDM surface. A portion of the building’s roof is flat, but most of its 60,000 square foot roof is made up of a series of steeply sloped sections that abut vertical window walls in a saw tooth design. Each section is approximately 20′ deep by 80′ long, with a 30 degree to 45 degree slope.

“The roof had leaked, and the repairs had to do with open seams and open flashing joints,” Ballentine said. “We evaluated the roof and determined that the main roof needed maintenance, but we didn’t think it needed replacement because the overall condition of the roof was in good shape.”

“We walked the roof and talked about every option we had,” Baum said. “We talked about life expectancy versus extended life and the cost of coating versus a complete tear off.”

Ballentine recommended a coating system. “We felt that a roof coating was a good fit and the best solution.” He provided costs for roof restoration with Republic’s Geogard system, a monolithic, highly reflective white urethane coating, as well as ballpark costs for replacement.

“We chose Geogard because it’s a urethane based system,” Ballentine said. “It’s good for areas where minimal ponding may occur and where slopes connect with flat areas. And we know Republic is an established company with a good reputation. I’ve dealt with Republic for seven years; I introduced GSM to Republic systems when I joined the company.”

After weighing the options, Baum said, Susquehanna decided to go with a Republic roof restoration system—the company’s first use of roof coatings. “One thing our management team liked about roof restoration was the huge difference in the cost,” Baum said. “It was approximately one third the cost of a complete roof replacement. We’re talking significant savings.”

After an infrared roof scan to detect any areas of wet roof insulation that would need to be replaced, GSM submitted a list of remedial repairs to complete before the roof coating system was applied–items pulled directly from Republic’s thorough pre-installation process specifications. Employees would be working inside throughout the project, so GSM reviewed the potential for routine noise and odor issues ahead of time.

The project was implemented in two phases and completed in the spring of 2007. “Now the roof is perpetually maintainable,” Ballentine said.

“The project went pretty smoothly,” Baum said. “Because it’s a coating and not a tear off, noise was not much of a problem. It’s a lot less invasive.” As for odor, Ballentine and Baum said they received few comments. On warmer days of the project the crews would routinely shut down the rooftop ac/ventilation units near where they were working.

However, both Baum and Ballentine said many occupants did notice that the highly reflective white Geogard surface was affecting the interior space, providing an unexpected and welcome benefit. “Because of the sawtooth design of the roof,” Ballentine said, “the white membrane reflected so much light into the interior that it really brightened up the inside of the building.”

Baum explains how Susquehanna is using that outcome to make the building even more energy efficient. “We’re getting more sunlight inside, so we don’t need to have as many lights on, and we’re having a complete lighting upgrade done with automatic light level sensors. So, as we get ample natural light inside, the automatic system will detect the light coming in and shut off lights accordingly.”

Baum also is confident that the white reflective membrane will have an impact on heating/cooling costs, even though changes in the number and configuration of employees inside make it impossible to calculate at this point. On a hot day during the installation, crews took thermal readings using an infrared thermometer. The reading for the white, coated surface was 105 degrees. The black, uncoated surface registered 145 degrees–a 40 degree difference.

“The white surface reflects the heat back into the atmosphere instead of absorbing the heat into the building where we have to cool it,” Baum said. “Considering that we now have a lot more people drawing power, we know this white roof coating is helping to keep our energy costs lower than they would have been without it.”

Ballentine and Baum also agreed that roof restoration’s intrinsically earth friendly nature is especially important for the company and the communities it serves. As Susquehanna works toward developing greener buildings and processes, he said, the company is embracing the earth friendly benefits of roof restoration for numerous facilities, a decision that will keep hundreds of thousands of tons of roofing material out of landfills for years to come.

All in all, Ballentine said, the project continues to be a win-win for Susquehanna Bancshares in every way. “Between the elimination of the leakage problem, the long term roofing needs contained, and the additional light in the building, they’re happy on all fronts.”

In light of this project’s very positive outcome–both in immediate savings and those projected long term with reduced maintenance and energy costs–Baum and his superiors are looking at coatings for other projects as they develop capital maintenance budgets for other facilities.