SPRI addresses code evaluation for roofing products

January 5, 2016

Butte, Montana sees wintertime temperatures as low as -46 C (-52 F). For this reason, Bill Hanson, AIA (ThinkOne Architecture) was required to meet a variety of updated energy codes. On this particular project, the specification provided for an insulation value of about R-48.
Photos courtesy GAF

By Mike Ennis
SPRI’s latest informational bulletin (No.1-15) updates building code officials, specifiers, building owners, and others on code evaluations and product approval requirements for roofing products in Canada and around the world. The bulletin centres on the requirements as they relate to membrane roof covering systems.

The bulletin is designed to update building code officials on the various ways roofing manufacturers can provide evidence of code compliance. It zeros in on some practical options available to the building official or authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

What is product approval?
The builder, specifier, or contractor must demonstrate to the building official the roofing product(s) they intend to install will comply with all the requirements of the building, residential, plumbing, fire, and energy codes adopted in that jurisdiction. In Canada, local building codes may refer to the International Code Council (ICC) for these requirements.

This means the building codes authorize the building official to enforce the codes and regulations that have been adopted through legislation for the jurisdiction in question. Most often, it is the manufacturer that provides the actual evidence of code compliance.

The specific requirements for roof coverings are contained within Chapter 15 of the International Building Code (IBC), and related sections of local codes in Canada. These requirements include weather protection, wind uplift resistance, external fire resistance, impact resistance, and physical properties.

There are three methods for providing the relevant information to the AHJ. Combinations of these methods can be used to show code compliance for a particular building. They include:

Alternative materials and methods of construction are regulated by Section 104.11 of the IBC. The material or method of construction must be shown to be equivalent to that described in the code as to quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability, and safety.

One method to establish equivalency in Canada is through a normative standard called Acceptance Criteria (AC), which describes the means to evaluate the product or method of construction for code compliance. A code evaluation agency can evaluate the product or method of construction and publish its findings in a research report. Any alternatives must be approved by the AHJ.

The specific requirements for roof coverings are contained within Chapter 15 of the International Building Code (IBC) and related sections of state and local codes in Canada.

Are research reports necessary?
In Bulletin No. 1-15, SPRI points out research reports are not mandatory for single-ply roofing membranes complying with standards referenced in the codes. Research reports from approved sources are intended to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in the code. Therefore, the AHJ should not insist on a research report for a membrane roofing system if the manufacturer has data available for the AHJ to review.

“Code officials are increasingly asking for a research report from single-ply roofing manufacturers world-wide to demonstrate code compliance,” says SPRI member Michael Beaton of Intertek, a global provider of product certification and performance testing services. “While a research report should not be mandated since these products and systems are already described in the code with specific requirements and referenced standards, a research report is an easy way for the manufacturer to provide the necessary information to the code official.

“SPRI’s ultimate goal in publishing Bulletin 1-15 is two-fold,” Beaton continues. “First, that code officials internationally understand that a research report is a ‘convenience’ for single-ply roofing and should not be required if other relevant data is available. Second, that when the roofing manufacturer does choose to document compliance in a research report, code officials should be willing to accept a research report from an agency other than ICC Evaluation Service, provided the agency is accredited for this activity.”

AHJs and manufacturers routinely rely on the services of test laboratories, certification agencies, and code evaluation agencies accredited under internationally accepted standards. Agencies other than ICC Evaluation Services are accredited to operate at a minimum level of competence and independence.

In conclusion, information provided to the AHJ can take several forms. Research reports help make the process of review and approval by the AHJ simpler. However, a research report should only be required when the product or method of construction is an alternative to that specified in the code.

SPRI Bulletin 1-15 is two pages long and available for free viewing and download online.[3]

For more information, visit SPRI’s website[4] or contact the association at info@spri.org[5].

Mike Ennis[6]Mike Ennis, RRC, joined Single-ply Roofing Industry (SPRI) trade association in 1993. He has chaired various SPRI committees and task forces, and served as president from 2004 to 2006. He became the group’s technical director the following year. Ennis can be reached at info@spri.org[5].


  1. [Image]: http://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Photo-2.gif
  2. [Image]: http://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Photo-1.gif
  3. download online.: http://www.spri.org/publications/policy.htm.
  4. website: http://www.spri.org
  5. info@spri.org: mailto:info@spri.org
  6. [Image]: http://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Mike-Ennis.jpg

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