An Overview Of The New Asphalt Roofing PCRs

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For the past 150 years, asphalt has been the most popular roofing material in North America. Over the past decade, its popularity and production has declined as a result of growing eco-consciousness among consumers and rapid developments in roofing technology; however, asphalt roofing manufacturers recently proved that they’re not only ready, but also eager to step up their game. Together with ASTM International, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has developed the industry’s first ever Product Category Rules (PCRs) for asphalt roofing. The ultimate goal of any PCR document is globally consistent documentation. In the context of the roofing industry, this means that asphalt roofing manufacturers will be given a universal yardstick by which they can measure and report their products’ environmental impact.

Goal & Scope The document, titled “Asphalt Shingles, Built-up Asphalt Membrane Roofing and Modified Bituminous Membrane Roofing” and released July 2014, covers:

• asphalt shingles installed over underlayment

• low-slope asphalt roofing assemblies:

- factory-produced asphalt-saturated or coated base sheets, ply sheets and cap sheets

- field-applied viscous asphalt coatings, adhesives and surfacings


The new PCRs provide a baseline for developing asphalt roofing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). An EPD is a document that will report qualitative data on the environmental impact of certain products over their life span. All of the phases of an asphalt shingle’s life cycle will be under assessment, including:

Once an EPD is created, its validity will be verified and established in accordance with the requirements outlined in:

• ISO 14025:2006 (Environmental Labels and Declarations — Type III Environmental Declarations — Principles and Procedures)

• ISO 21930:2007 (Sustainability in Building Construction — Environmental Declaration of Building Products)

Both business-to-business and business-to-consumer aspects of the asphalt roofing industry fall under the scope of the PCRs.


Period of Validity The new asphalt roofing PCRs will be valid until June 2019, or the standard five years from the latest date of publication. A five-year validity period from the date of issue will also apply to any EPD created under these PCRs.

What will the development of asphalt roofing PCRs and EPDs mean for the roofing industry? In Part Two, we’ll discuss their repercussions on manufacturers, distributors, roofers, and other asphalt roofing industry stakeholders.


As the new PCRs are meant to provide a guide for measuring and reporting the environmental impact of asphalt roofing products, it’s a given that they will have a significant impact on the North American roofing industry. Some of the things the asphalt roofing PCRs are bound to bring to the table are:

Better EPD awareness. Not all stakeholders are aware of the importance of EPDs and the need for better compliance, but last year’s release of the PCR document has already started dialogues within the asphalt roofing community. But awareness is only the beginning. One major hurdle industry insiders need to overcome is the fact that EPD development is expensive. Reports show that manufacturers may need to spend between $25,000 and $100,000 on EPD development for a single product. Clear and unambiguous representation of products. This is a development that serves to benefit everyone from manufacturer to consumer. EPDs created under the asphalt roofing PCRs must provide a narrative description that covers the product’s:

• brand name • material type • simple visual representation


• appropriate and latest product specifications (ASTM, ANSI, ICC-ES, UL, CSA, etc.) • physical properties • technical information (e.g. compliance with fire resistance standards) • reinforcement type, thickness and color • main unit processes by life-cycle stage

Greater transparency in reporting environmental impact data. Having unified PCRs for asphalt shingle products manufactured within North America comes with an implicit demand for all stakeholders to commit to honest reporting. Environmental impact categories often covered in construction-product-related EPDs include:

Given the impact of the new PCRs on the asphalt roofing industry, it’s a fair bet that property owners and the general public will feel the effects as well. That’s what we’ll cover in the third and final part of this e-book.


While the domino effect set off by the release of the PCRs isn’t exactly rapid, the progress will, in time, have a tangible impact on end consumers. Ultimately, they will mean asphalt-based roofing materials and methodologies that are more energy-efficient and sustainable, generate less waste and have a smaller overall environmental footprint. Other anticipated changes include: Easier product comparison. Asphalt-based products that fulfill the same function but are produced by different manufacturers will be easier to compare through EPDs developed under unified PCRs. This will allow property owners to make more informed decisions with regard to the roofing products they choose.

Easier compliance with environmental credit-rating systems. Commercial building projects will have better leverage for acquiring green certifications if the roofing products they use have EPDs. Examples of environmental credit-rating systems with this kind of requirement include LEED Version 4 and The 2030 Challenge, a global call to take steps toward achieving true carbon neutrality by the year 2030.


Better materials and workmanship. Fortunately for all parties concerned, an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient roof isn’t at odds with what the average American consumer wants. Homeowners, for instance, want a roof that is durable, long-lasting, easy to maintain, energy-efficient and cost-effective over its lifespan. These are in perfect accord with ARMA’s and ASTM International’s push for materials and practices that consume less energy and fewer resources and generate less waste. The asphalt roofing industry is still a long way from achieving these lofty goals. That said, the new PCRs are definitely a significant step in the right direction.

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