Getting started on a roof project


The Start of a Big Project

I have lived at the Cambridge Cooperative Club for about four years. We are a residential group house of 10 members who live together in an effort to be more sustainable and sensible. Perhaps those concepts are basically the same.

There is more about the Coop at our main site: In terms of being environmentally progressive, we try our best. We conserve water, we compost food waste. We purchase organic food and have a share of a local farm CSA. We cook vegetarian meals for house dinners once or twice a week and do not purchase meat for the house (we have an “open pantry” system – all food is shared in common)(unless you have a special something you brought home from a restaurant or whatever and put your name on it so no one else eats it)…

We have had an energy audit from Conservation Services Group through NStar our electricity and gas utility. Thus we have switched out almost all the lightbulbs in the house and water faucet/showerheads for efficient devices. Each autumn, we line the windows with plastic sheeting to cut down on drafts, and this seems to be a very good practice. We keep the thermostats set low and on timers to be even lower in the middle of the night. In general, we are all trying to reduce our ecological footprint.

Each summer, we usually have a garden in the front yard to grow some of our own food. We also keep a few tomato plants up on the roof where they really like it, although getting water up there is a bit of a chore. I have enjoyed growing these things and enjoyed soaking up a few rays reading up there from time to time.

The roof has had troubles over the years and there is a leak in the central drain. This occasionally causes moisture to enter the house and cause leaks in the upstairs. It especially occurs when there is a heavy slush load on the roof in late winter snow storms. Sometimes the moisture seems to short out the fire alarm system and cause a false alarm. This sounds pretty crazy as I write it but indeed, this is what has been going on in the last year.

So we’ve decided to fix it. Actually, about two years ago, we applied massive amounts of goo and roofing contractor tape to all the seams of the membrane up there and really stopped the leaks. But at some point, we need a real repair job. In fact we should replace the roof.

In fact, we should re-build the roof.

In fact, we should design a comprehensive ECO-ROOF to be, first of all, integral and preventing moisture entry to the house; to have a better access system (right now it’s an old rickety ladder and an unhinged hatch); to have space for some modest recreation and growing some plants; and best of all, to have a solar array to capture some of those rays for energy applications in the house!

The ECO-ROOF is coming! The ideas got flowing in conversations among housies and it’s time to put it into a plan. I have a friend who is an architect and I’m going to see him in a couple of weeks so maybe we can get this thing mapped out.

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