Design and Development of an Innovative Re-Roofing Solution That Demonstrates the Feasibility of Retrofitting a Leaky Vacant Building to a Watertight and Energy Producing System

A brick building in New Kensington
Project Type
April 2018

This proposal is part of a cross-institutional, multidisciplinary initiative that is directed toward revitalization of New Kensington, PA, a Rust Belt area, into a vibrant community that supports economic growth and sustainable development through entrepreneurial and innovative initiative. One of the biggest challenges in this initiative is developing an optimal solution to the existing problem of old, leaky buildings, some vacant. If our proposal is successful, the investigators will design and test a conceptual model for a new roofing composite that will sit on top of the existing roof. For the initial prototype, a rubber type membrane such as EDPM will be laid over the existing roofing. An existing stock of aluminum panels that will be donated by a local aluminum manufacturer will be reconfigured for use as ballast/pavers to prevent movement of the membrane. A solar consisting of thin-film photovoltaic solar cell layer will applied on top of the panels for energy generation. 

The practicability of this conceptual assembly will be based on its performance with respect to waterproofing, insulation, condensation minimization through the use of a vapor retarder membrane/layer. The feasibility study will be through simulation and also physical lab testing. A re-iterative engineering design approach will be deployed to input initial results into the refinement of the prototype. The main deliverable will be a detailed engineering design approach for a sustainable and energy producing reroofing system.


Ali Memari

Professor and Bernard and Henrietta Hankin Chair in Residential Building Construction, Architectural Engineering

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