When designing a school building, all safety and security measures must be taken into account in order to protect the lives and property of its occupants. In addition to limiting access to the campus through doors or gates, integrating security checkpoints into the flow of traffic and installing bollards where necessary, there are more recondite means of ensuring the integrity of the building and the safety of its users.
A Proper Roofing Support System
One that is less thought of but no less vital is a proper rooftop support system. Depending on the size of the school, ducting, piping and equipment can place a heavy unseen burden on the building's roof. When the weight of rooftop equipment exceeds the capacity of the roof supporting them, the roof itself falls in danger of severe damage that can lead to a partial or entire collapse. If the roof collapses, it may cause heavy economic damage and obliterate every other safety mechanism the schools relies on.
A roof that collapses as a result of improper rooftop equipment supports can lead to a host of short- and long-term damages for the school. First, it may alter the structural integrity of the entire school, triggering a complete demolition and reconstruction. Second, it has the potential both to hurt students within the school, and to subsequently open the school up to lawsuits. Third, even a partial collapse will likely interfere with attendance and class flow, interrupting students' schedules and requiring extra work from the staff.
All of this can be practically eliminated through a properly designed and constructed rooftop equipment support system. As an architect, here are a few considerations to make when designing such a system:
- Research and define all local and state building and school-specific regulations in the design of the rooftop equipment support system.
- Conduct a thorough assessment of annual weather conditions for the region in which the building is located. Determine the frequency and magnitude of wind, rain, snow, hail and dust storms.
- Analyze the topography of the site. This is a critical element that will guide both material choices and support design.
- Assess the uses of the facility as a whole and each room within the facility. For example, schools with enclosed industrial shops may need additional rooftop supports for added ventilation or machinery requirements.
- Review LEED certification guidelines to determine if your design is LEED-compliant.
The best rooftop support systems offer flexible use while effectively bearing the load of any pipes, ducts, and equipment on the roof. These systems use supports that avoid roof penetrations when possible, instead remaining firmly affixed via ballast systems, in order to keep from compromising the roof. These systems will ideally use materials such as hot-dipped galvanized steel supports and high-density-propylene bases to provide a strong, long-lasting support structure that will withstand the test of time.
The best way to reduce any risk of a future disaster is to plan on avoiding it at all costs. If you want to “Build it right” and avoid potential disasters related to the failure of rooftop support structures on your school roof, consider the products and services from PHP Systems/Design when designing your school's rooftop systems.
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