Going green makes good business sense. Using building materials and techniques that take advantage of environmentally friendly materials and technologies helps save heating costs, limits the use of fossil fuels, and has recently also helped attract the interest of new investors via popular ESG funds.
In addition to environmental concerns, choosing a government-certified cool roof over a direct roof replacement has several advantages:
- Minimal disruption to the business facility and its employees
- Quick & painless installation that is safe and effectively increases the lifetime of the existing roof by a decade
- Raw materials costs are often 3-5x more expensive after adding equipment rental, consulting costs, and disposal fees
So it was with these considerations in mind that P&G Gillette approached Roof Sealing Systems to clean, coat, and seal their 400,000 sq. ft. Boston, Massachusets headquarters.
On Top of Innovation
Gillette has a reputation for being an innovator when it comes to personal care products. In the summer of 2022, the company applied this same mindset to its headquarters. With an incredible view of Boston harbor, the building itself is a landmark.
The installation of a new commercial roof coating would serve not just to upgrade the building and make it future-proof but also to lower its carbon footprint. Taking this decision helped cement the company’s position as an innovator in the 21st century.
The project scope was impressive. Just look at the numbers:
- Total coated roof space: 400,000 sq. ft.
- Roof height: up to nine stories, equivalent to nearly 100 ft.
- Tight schedule: the job needed to be completed quickly to minimize disruption to the facility and its people.
The planning phase involved chief building managers and decisions makers for multiple companies:
- Proctor & Gamble
- Roof Sealing Systems
- Stork, A Fluor Company
There were also partners involved:
- Benchmark Consulting
During the planning phase, the management group weighed the merits of direct roof replacement against a commercial roof coating, but in the end, chose a silicone roof coating because of its impressive capacity to withstand moisture, reflect sun rays, and other environmental challenges. For Gillette, the benefits include:
- An additional ten years to the lifespan of the existing roof
- Saving one million pounds of roofing materials from having to go to landfill
- Potentially saving millions of dollars in energy costs
We chose Instacoat silicone products because of their superior durability and effectiveness in commercial roof sealing. In addition, their silicone roof sealant reflects 92% of the sun’s rays and qualifies as a government-certified cool roof. As a result, the temperature of the building remains lower on a hot day. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a reflective, cool roof can stay up to 50°F cooler compared to the conventional alternative.
Facing the Challenges
Naturally, a project of this magnitude does not come without a few challenges. First and foremost, applying a new coating is not done in one step. “The task was to remove hundreds of feet of wooden decking before preparing the roof,” explains Roof Sealing Systems’ Jason Angelo. “Next, we needed to clean up the space with pressure washers, then seal and patch any holes. Only then did we start to apply silicone coating to three primary roofing structures and add textured walkways.”
Other challenges included:
- Unique environmental concerns due to the proximity of the harbor and a large protected seagull population
- Safety considerations due to building height and heavy winds
- Material loading challenges as a result of the plant’s 24/7 operational schedule
- Compressed timelines and a summer heatwave
Unique Environmental Concerns
Working right on the Boston harbor may have provided some excellent views for the team on the job, but more importantly, the Gillette building’s location created some additional challenges.
Jason Angelo explains: “Because we were working right on the Boston harbor, we had to make sure that nothing other than water went down the storm drains.”
All waste products must be removed safely to protect the water quality. The crew also needed to be mindful of native seagulls. “The harbor has a very active seagull population,” says Angelo. The seagulls created a twofold challenge. First, some of the seagulls were using the roof as a nesting site.
“We make sure to keep their nests and eggs safe and developed a plan to work around them.” Second, seagulls leave dirt behind. That meant pressure washing and silicone coating crews had to work hand-in-hand to prevent the birds from making a mess on a clean, prepared roof.
Exceptionally gusty winds required creativity during the silicone application. Normally, crews would spray on the coating. However, due to high winds, they had to roll through almost the entire surface.
Safety considerations matter more than anything, especially when you’re working at great heights. The Roof Sealing Systems team worked with the clients to generate a safety plan that exceeded industry standards. Jason Angelo” “We had a safety officer on-site at all times to ensure that our crew maintained 100% adherence to OSHA standards, and more importantly, that we avoided close calls, let alone safety incidents.”
Their safety strategy included fall protection equipment which crews needed to wear in places without knee walls or railings. Those were essential for the workers at the top of the building. They were even more important as the crew was working during a period of high winds.
Apart from that, standard building safety precautions included high-vis vests, hard hats, safety glasses, and cut-resistant gloves.
Material Loading Challenges
Working on a roof of this size also required a well-thought-out approach to material deliveries. “We had to be very creative in the way that we loaded materials onto the roof because the building is active 24/7.” Protecting the workers and their vehicles was as important as it was ensuring none of the building’s occupants would be in danger.
Compressed Timelines and a Heatwave
Commercial roofing contractors are well-versed at working with tight timelines and delivering projects quickly, and this 400,000 sq. ft. job was no exception. To meet the client’s deadlines, the team developed a schedule that allowed for non-stop work. One crew took over from another to minimize delays.
To add to the challenges, Boston was experiencing a heatwave during this period. That meant teams had to work in 90+ degree heat, with some days reaching highs of 95 and even 100 degrees. Hydration and shade were critical to keeping the teams safe.
Roof Sealing Systems installed a shaded hydration station right on the roof to keep their teams out of harm’s way. They also made sure the teams always had access to cold water and shade, no matter when they were working on the roof.
Going Green with a New Roof
Gillette’s brand-new roof coating was commissioned to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. That’s why Roof Sealing Systems made sure to select state-of-the-art materials for the job. The team used Instacoat 250HS white silicone coating and Instacoat wash & prime to prepare the roof. WiWa sprayers helped make the application easy when rolling was not required.
The result is simply stunning – a light-reflective roof coating that saves energy and will reduce Gillette’s environmental impact considerably. The roof coating application helped extend the roof’s lifetime by a decade years, avoided large amounts of waste being dumped into a landfill, and helped Gillette do their part for the planet. Oh, and there’s a bonus – they saved millions of dollars in the process.
We call that a win-win.