project details

european dimension

work packages


EUR-ACTIVE ROOFer database

members only








- introduction
- objectives
- problems to be solved
- scientific objectives and approach
- expected impacts
- network approach

- introduction
A wide variety in new products, such as photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar collectors, roof lights, ventilation devices, insulation and safety devices, is being introduced in roofing. The roof thus changes into an Active Roof: it supplies electricity and hot water and provides daylight and ventilation. Active Roofs contribute significantly to the quality of the living space under the roof.

The quality of these products as well as safety equipment for installation and maintenance is, when installed in a roof system, in many cases insufficient because there are no standards or legislation to assess their performance. At the same time, good products get poorly installed by inexperienced roofers. This leads to significant numbers of (preventable) failures from rain- and snow water ingress, wind damage and condensation. Due to this, failure costs in the EU total approximately € 2 billion each year. The secondary damage to the interior of the building is at least of the same order of magnitude.

The vast majority of this damage is preventable if adequate pre-standards and guidance for testing and installation exist. In order to arrive at such a situation, the European Commission funded EUR-ACTIVE ROOFer project has been started in July 2005. At the end of the project in 2008, the main deliverables of EUR-ACTIVE ROOFer will be:

1. New knowledge on the environmental actions on European roofs, in particular wind and seismic effects, rain, snow and condensation.

2. Performance criteria and assessment methods for wind and seismic loading, driving rain, snowdrift and condensation.

3. Prototypes of innovative concepts for Active Roofs.

4. A European Active Roof database, Guidelines, best practice catalogues and maintenance & safety devices.

5. Training programmes for the European active roofers.

This will reduce risks for the European roofing trade and installers of solar energy systems, enabling them to fully guarantee the quality of their products. It will also provide great added value to the building, significantly reduce failures and increase the overall quality of roofs, enhancing the profit of the roofing trade.

- objectives
The main strategic aim of EUR-ACTIVE ROOFer is to supply tools for the European roofing trade, which enables the European roofer to:

1. respond to the new demands for integration of roof accessories and fittings
2. to upgrade from delivering just roof tiles to delivering total (active) roofs.

EUR-ACTIVE ROOFer aims at both newly built Active Roofs and existing roofs, which will be upgraded (a.k.a. retrofitted) towards Active Roofs.

- problems to be solved
Often there are conflicting requirements between the traditional roof structure and modern engineered Active Roof accessories and fittings. This leads to poorly designed and constructed Active Roofs that do not perform satisfactory. Most of the time these solutions for Active Roofs are developed by parties with insufficient knowledge of roofs. The situation is usually worse with retrofit systems because of the wide variation in underlying roof structures, not just throughout Europe but even within member states. These problems are not easily solved. Currently, there are no relevant harmonized standards for assessing the performance of Active Roofs subjected to environmental actions. Secondly, the roofer urgently needs guidance and training on installation of Active Roofs. This guidance is not available because there is insufficient basic understanding of the physical processes of the interaction between traditional roofs and roof mounted fittings and accessories.

- scientific objectives and approach
The scientific objectives of EUR-ACTIVE ROOFer are:
1. To develop conceptual solutions and best practice recommendations for integrated Active Roofs
2. Identification of typologies to describe different European roofs which can be used by the roofing industry and will be used as input in the different work packages on environmental actions; development of a central data base.
3. To develop performance criteria and assessment methods for environmental actions on different types of roofs, including wind uplift, driving rain, snowdrift, condensation risks and seismic effects. This will result in guidelines and pre-standardization documents, which will form the basis for subsequent standardization within CEN and EOTA.
4. To develop guidelines for installing new roof accessories, which will reduce the number of reported roof failures from the current level of approximately 20% to no more than 5% within five years.
5. To develop best practice examples for roof maintenance and safety devices, which will promote safe working practices on Active Roofs and reduce deaths and injuries caused by falls from height.
6. To develop national training programmes to train the SMEs.

The project aims to contribute to European standards on the relevant actions on roofs. Fundamental research is performed as basis for this task. Pre-standards will be developed for the major external influences on roofs, and these will be discussed with the relevant CEN and EOTA committees. The project also aims at closing the existing gaps in standardization of the new member states with regard to the European codes of practice. Therefore, additional effort is foreseen for some of the Eastern European Research partners.

In the Netherlands the Dutch pre-standard NVN 7250 'Solar Energy Systems - Roof and Façade Integration - Construction aspects' has been developed recently, outlining assessment methods for the structural quality of solar energy systems. It is the first national standard in Europe on integration aspects of solar energy products. This pre-standard provides a basis for a European approach to assess the construction aspects of roof accessories. Currently, application of this pre-standard is limited to solar energy systems and the building practice in the Netherlands. The applicability to other roofing products and other countries within Europe is limited and will need adjustment to meet the different European situations. Also, this standard has no method for assessing the performance of solar energy systems against wind loads, rain penetration, snowdrift and seismic effects.

- expected impacts
The impacts of this project will be:
- An increase of the technological knowledge and skills base of the European roofers.
- An improvement in the quality of installed roof products.
- An Increase of the market, turnover and profit for the roofing trade and installers of solar energy systems, both consisting mainly of SMEs.
- Reduced failures, improved safety and better quality of life for the building owners.

Potential direct benefit for the SMEs
The European roofing trade comprises approximately 160.000 SMEs, with approximately 1 million employees. Taking into account an average turnover of €40.000 per person in hours and materials, the total turnover of the roofer trade is 40 Billion Euros. The cost of labour of roof tiles, ridges and fixing materials of one roof lies around 900 Euros, while an entire roof including insulation, roof windows, gutter etc. will be approximately 5.400 Euros. So, when a roofer upgrades from just laying roof tiles to delivering a total roof, the turnover will be approximately 6 times higher. Likewise, the upgrade to an Active Roof with solar energy will increase the turnover with a factor of approximately 27.

Working conditions of the SMEs will be considerably improved due to the fact that in the design phase of the Active Roof, installation, maintenance and repair are already optimized. Tools will be developed to assist the roofer in the design phase to improve working conditions and in particular safety. Solutions for safe working will be developed, as well as a basis for regulation on safety at roofs.

In the end, the following parties will also be able to provide better quality:
- Project developers, designers and architects are given a wider choice of European products.
- Building control bodies will have an easier way to check compliance with European guidelines.
- Installation engineers can choose a product that has a European 'certification of quality'.
- Test laboratories and approved bodies will be able to offer third party certification and approval of devices integrated in Active Roofs.
- Insurance companies and other warranty providers will have confidence that roof integrated devices will not increase claims for wind damage, rain penetration, etc.

- network approach
The joint European effort is needed to develop European solutions, because on one hand the main issues to be tackled are similar throughout Europe: to integrate the systems, seal the penetrations, resist wind and respect the thaw/freeze cycles. On the other hand, wind and rain represent higher risk in the coastal area in the Nordic and Western countries, thaw/freeze gives problems in the Nordic and central countries, while Southern countries have limited risk on sealing penetrations, but should solve cooling load and seismic problems. This gives the possibility to share experiences with other regions, which will increase the chance of success for the European target of PV, thus strengthening the position of European SMEs and increase the quality of the work delivered, and enabling SMEs to accelerate development and implementations of new roof accessories for the European market.