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Why It’s Important to Plan and Design Your Commercial Rooftop

Posted by Art Valentz on September 8, 2021

When most people think of commercial rooftops, the word “design” doesn’t come to mind—but maybe it should. Planning and designing aren’t just about aesthetics. A thorough design process also allows for the most efficient use of space, saving you time and money in the long run. Having a dedicated rooftop support system helps you maximize your rooftop space as well as creates a safe and organized area for maintenance and building personnel. Planning can help reduce potential accidents and damage to your roof.

If You Fail to Plan Your Roof, You’re Planning to Fail

The most important thing for facility managers to understand is that the roof isn’t just a place where you put bulky or unsightly equipment, or equipment that must vent into the atmosphere. The roof, rather, is a place where people work. It may not be a place where people work often, but it is still a place where plumbers, welders, electricians, roofing consultants, and roofing contractors must occasionally apply their trades.

This means that rooftop equipment needs to be planned at a human scale. At a basic level, this means that there needs to be lanes wide enough for people to walk through comfortably while carrying tools and equipment. This will make it fast and convenient for employees to work (and walk) on the roof—and this is beneficial, since it’s best to limit the amount of time that personnel stay up there.

What’s more, lanes for travel should ideally be positioned away from the roof edge. This allows contractors to stay compliant with OSHA regulations that prohibit them from working close to the roof edge without protective gear such as railings and safety harnesses. In short, the more room you give your contractors to maneuver—and the further you keep them from the roof edge—the safer they’ll be, and the more efficiently they’ll get the job done.

Keep Costs Low and Workers Safe

Another reason to plan your roof is that you want to be more efficient with its infrastructure materials. Wires, pipes, and HVAC ducts all cost money. By placing this equipment in a more efficient manner, you’ll be able to optimize their usage—deploying the smallest amount of material in order to cover the entirety of your building.

For example, you can’t place your rooftop HVAC unit just anywhere—you need to place it over a roof beam for structural support, you need to place it in an area where there’s enough space for it, and you need to have enough of an area for technicians to work around it. This means that you’re already working with significant constraints. Being smart with your placement means that you’ll also be able to spend less on the accompanying ductwork, however.

Finally, smart placement of cables, ducts, and pipes means eliminating obstructions for rooftop workers. At a minimum, no worker should ever have to climb over an obstacle—this is very dangerous, as it can cause a worker to trip and fall. This kind of accident is dangerous even at ground level, but on rooftops it has the potential to be fatal. Even an obstacle that’s only a few inches off the ground has the potential to trip a worker, with a potentially dangerous outcome.

Plan Your Rooftop Efficiently with Rooftop Support Systems

Even if space is at a premium on your roof, rooftop support systems can help workers safely traverse obstacles and access equipment in need of maintenance. This is because rooftop support systems essentially add a third dimension to the rooftop. For example, If there’s a cable run that would otherwise be in a pathway that you wanted to reserve for your workers, you can use a cable tray to lift it overhead, or an elevated walkway to climb over it.

Here at PHP Systems/Design, we specialize in creating custom zero penetration roof access walkways that can help maximize the efficient use of space on your commercial roof. This improves worker safety, minimizes costs, and helps you plan rooftop infrastructure regardless of your space constraints. For more information and pricing, reach out to PHP Systems/Design today!

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