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Long-Lasting Protection

Snow guard system still protecting students 10 years later

S5 Case Study Aug18

When a school system needs to protect employees and students from the dangers of rooftop snow slides, there should be no shortcuts. That includes choosing the right snow retention devices that are tested, proven and engineered to site-specifics to provide a safe environment.

Cascade County (ID) Schools was faced with just that situation over 10 years ago, when selecting snow retention for a large metal maintenance building.

In the past, they had been following the path of utilizing adhered plastic parts for the project by recommendation of a local contractor. With significant design roof snow loads of 80-psf in Cascade, Idaho, the adhered plastic parts had failed for the third time over seven years, tearing off the building’s gutters and endangering anyone nearby. Whereupon consulting the snow retention manufacturer about the failures, the solution was always “you didn’t use enough parts.”

The ultimate online recommendation by the adhered snow retention manufacturer was installing 24 plastic parts on each panel to restrain the predicted roof snow. Presuming that they were dealing with professionals, the school system considered anteing-up nearly $8,000 (not including labor) to install the recommended quantity of parts.

Common sense dictated that another option needed to be considered. The search for another solution led them to consider a mechanically attached alternative from S-5! Attachment Solutions of Metal Roof Innovations Ltd., Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It solved their problem,” according to Justin Barker, vice president of sales for Upson Roofing of Caldwell, Idaho, and the S-5! ColorGard installer for the project. “We’ve used S-5! ColorGard for over 15 years and we complete a few projects with it each year.”

The S-5! ColorGard online calculator was put to work with inputs from project. S-5! had previously completed manufacturer profile specific testing for Houston-based MBCI’s Ultra-Dek roof installed on the building. Adding in the variables for the project: roof dimensions, roof slope and 80-psf design roof snow load, the S-5! online ColorGard calculator completed the proper job-specific conditions. The calculator matched up the S-5! MBCI Ultra-Dek specific test data and provided the suggestion of two rows of S-5! ColorGard as the solution to Cascade’s needs.

“We use the S-5! online calculator often,” explains Barker. “We like using it, it’s easy to use and it offers us lots of options for multiple roof types. We also like S-5!’s technical support.”

Another positive outcome from the S-5! ColorGard tested and engineered system output from the online calculator was also a significant financial savings at about 30 percent the cost of the adhered plastic parts. The labor savings improved that still more.

Barker stated that the ColorGard product has “held up well” over the last 10 years as they regularly visit Cascade Schools for other installation and maintenance projects. “It does what it is designed to do and gives us the confidence to recommend it to our clients,” he added.

The project also utilized S-5!’s ColorCard Extended Warranty, the only “life of the roof,” installed warranty offered by any snow retention manufacturer. The project was originally inspected by Dustin Haddock, S-5!’s vice president of research and development. The ColorGard Extended Warranty includes an on-site inspection and review of the project calculations by an S-5! professional to assure the owner of proper planning and execution. S-5! then issues a “life of the roof” limited inservice performance warranty that covers the parts and the installation against structural failure.

Now, 10 years after the project completion, the S-5! ColorGard system continues to hold strong and protect employees and students from the perils of an unexpected snow avalanche that could cause injury or even death.

Rob Haddock is the CEO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based S-5! Attachment Solutions. To learn more, visit For more information on the Metal Construction Association’s new Technical Bulletin, “Qualifying Snow Retention Systems for Metal Roofing,” visit