Drainage approach helps Milwaukee schools protect building roofs

Focusing on protecting the roofs of its buildings has saved Milwaukee Public Schools considerable time and money over the last two decades.

The district partnered with Atlas Roofing Corp., with the organizations repairing, replacing and maintaining more than 200 roofs across the school system’s expansive and historic network of buildings, according to a press release.

Using the Atlas Certified Drainage Program (CDP) to evaluate and repair the individual roofing system of each building, the school district has improved the condition of its schools, reduced maintenance costs and rescued several buildings from being condemned.

Before working with Atlas Roofing, many schools at Milwaukee Public School Systems were under threat of closure due to unsafe conditions, officials said. MPS partnered with Atlas to ensure the roofing systems would solve safety concerns and extend the life of the historic school buildings.

“Located throughout the city of Milwaukee and neighboring towns, MPS houses thousands of students, and after years of wear and tear, the buildings’ roofs were in terrible shape, with some under threat of condemnation,” said Dennis Fula, the former crew leader of the school district’s roofing team. “We set out to implement a long-term and holistic vision for each roof by improving thermal performance and executing a positive drainage solution.” 

By using the Atlas drainage program, the Milwaukee Public Schools saved time and labor, in addition to extending the life of each roof by at least 10-15 years, and in some cases more than 20, officials said. Before implementing the CDP system, each school was only getting 20, 15 or as few as 10 years from a roofing surface.

CDP is a comprehensive low-slope tapered design service to eliminate ponding water on a roof’s surface. The program’s designs help to prevent structural roof collapse, moisture invasion, membrane degradation, loss of thermal resistance, ice formation, vegetation growth and voiding system warranty.

While some manufacturers provide a 25-year warranty, CDP ensures positive slope and drainage, which helps extend the life of the roof beyond a typical warranty. With proper maintenance and care, the MPS roofing system can last for 40 years, officials say.

Now the MPS team expects its roofs to last at least 30 years. Since implementing, the team has still yet to replace a roof with the new the CDP system installed. 

While maintenance is still required, the number of repairs needed is drastically reduced each year. Before using the CDP system, Fula would find 200 to 400 leaks to inspect after rain and now, the team is dealing with an average of only 20 to30 leaks per building, of which only a fraction are caused by the roof.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Educational Buildings, Engineering Firms, Exteriors, Roofing, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design


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