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February 2002: Commercial Building


An innovative roof asset management program has saved Florida's Brevard County Public Schools (BCPS) millions of dollars in maintenance and replacement costs over the past six years and has generated over $1 million in energy rebates. The program was instituted in 1995 when a $350 million county bond referendum was defeated that would have provided much-needed funds for educational facility improvements and upgrades.

Historically, in any commercial, institutional or government organization, facility initiatives such as roof or pavement management programs have been viewed as overhead cost burdens. Spending on books and new technologies is considered an investment, while funding roof maintenance and repairs in order to defer roof replacement is considered an expense.

Faced with fixed budgets for capital and expense dollars and a growing list of deferred maintenance and repair issues, BCPS elected to try an asset management approach in order to reduce the significant backlog of deferred maintenance and capital renewal. This program gave BCPS an integrated approach to managing, operating and maintaining their facilities assets.

In 1995, BCPS was comprised of approximately 80 facility sites spread throughout a 70-mile-long county. The educational facilities ranged in size from 30,000 square-foot elementary schools to 210,000 square-foot high schools with 25+ buildings. The roof inventory included over nine million square feet of roof asset with a multitude of different roof types, systems and assemblies. The school system had a fixed annual capital budget for roofing of $6 million and an annual expense budget for maintenance and repairs of $250,000. After the budgets were allocated and spent, roofs continued to be an issue, as evidenced by over 850 roof-related work orders in 1994 alone.

LAW Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc. (LAW) was retained by BCPS to develop a roof asset management program. LAW employed ROOFER, a roof asset management database developed by the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. ROOFER provides objective condition assessments, actuarial projections of remaining roof life, and modeling of various repair-versus-replacement scenarios.

The initial phase of the program included a baseline to inventory the roof assets and document condition assessment data. ROOFER then analyzed the data using engineering algorithms and life-cycle analysis to calculate a roof condition index (RCI) for each roof, building or facility based on the quantity, severity and frequency of observed deficiencies. The baseline survey revealed an RCI of 47 out of a possible 100. An RCI of 33 or below indicates that it is more cost effective to replace a roof than to maintain it.

At an average replacement value of $6.75 per square foot (including tear-off and replacement), the roof portfolio was valued at just over $60.7 million. Based on the RCI of 47 and an as-built expected roof service life of 20 years, an estimated life expectancy of the average roof was 12 to 14 years. When the program was launched initially, the bond rate for the school system was 4.5 percent. Given the average realized roof life of 12 years, the depletion rate was more than $4.6 million annually ($60.7 million amortized over 12 years at 4.5 percent). Each additional year of service life was worth about $4.6 million.

Once the baseline data was analyzed, a strategic plan was prepared to rank roof assets by condition index. By ranking roof assets from worst to best condition, 100 percent of the capital dollars could be directed at the roofs in worst condition, while the expense dollars were directed at stopping leaks or maintaining good roofs to mitigate early signs of deterioration. Over the next five years, LAW's management plan tackled the worst roofs, maintained the best roofs, and deferred those in the middle until they were phased out by the program.

The results were a system-wide RCI improvement of approximately 50 points, energy rebates from the local utility company in excess of $1 million, and a reduction of annual roof leaks from over 850 to less than 40. Other benefits derived from the program included:

  • A reduction in capital requirements for roof replacements of more than 30 percent.
  • An additional five years of service life for the roof assets system-wide.
  • Sole-source negotiations with manufacturers, reducing material costs.
  • Reduced energy costs due to increased insulation value.
  • Objective bid evaluation due to consistent and comprehensive specifications and bid documents countywide.
  • Funding of additional projects (HVAC, ceiling tiles, lighting, etc.) with realized savings.

The most recent advancement to the program was LAW's conversion of the ROOFER database to VertexTM, a program developed and managed by LAW. The VertexTM Roof Management System is based on the same merits and algorithms as ROOFER, but allows BCPS more flexibility in reporting on roof assets as well as the ability to integrate other significant and costly facility components such as HVAC/mechanical, pavements and more.

Proactive management practices, competitive bidding, and manufacturer partnering have contributed to the success of the BCPS roof management program. Now that BCPS has an extensive roofing system inventory and a fully documented, manageable repair and replacement plan, they are able to make quick, accurate budget/cost projections and even to secure additional funding.

Return to: 2002 Feature Stories