Raise the Roof: A Conversation with Mark Graham, Low-Slope Roofing Instructor

“We need to work safer than we ever have. We need to be more energy efficient. We need to be more environmentally friendly… the bar will be higher for us. Training and educating to that bar becomes a big challenge, and that’s a big undertaking for the industry to take on. We’re just fortunate the University is willing to help us as an industry to do that.” – Mark Graham

We had a chance to sit down with Mark Graham, one of the instructors for the new Advanced Topics and Current Issues in Low-slope Roofing professional development course at the College of Engineering, to discuss important topics in roofing for those in and out of the industry.

Mark Graham, Course Instructor and Vice President of Technical Services with the National Roofing Contractors Association

Mark Graham is the Vice President of Technical Services with the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). He is also an active member of ASTM’s Roofing and Waterproofing, Thermal Insulation, Fire Standards, and Performance of Buildings Committees. Graham works alongside ASHRAE, the International Code Council, and NFPA.

For Graham, teaching at UW–Madison has brought his career full-circle.

“I actually attended [the Low Slope Roofing Systems] course back in the 1980s. Back then, the roofing business was pretty simple. We pretty much covered all of it in two-and-a-half days.”

After teaching the Low Slope Roofing Systems course, which offers learners an overview of the topic, Graham and his fellow instructors realized that there was now much more to teach than they could cover in a single course.

“Hopefully we can get folks to the first class, learn the basics, and then a year or two or five years later, get them to the advanced class,” Graham explains. “It lets us do a little bit more of a deep dive, or the term I just used, we’re going to really turn you into a ‘roofing nerd’ by the end of these two days.”

For those who wouldn’t consider themselves “roofing nerds,” there are still benefits to be gained from an understanding of the roofing industry. Graham shared that well-designed roofs can save money for building owners.

“Roofing is one of the few building components that there can actually be a payback to. I say that in the context that if you have an energy efficient roof, you’re going to save on heating and cooling costs over the life of the building.”

Today, as more and more building owners look to better utilize their roofing space, one of the biggest issues facing the industry is how to introduce the idea of sustainability. Roof engineering is over one hundred years old, and with age comes a resistance to new concepts.

However, thanks to Instructors like Mark Graham and the engaged audience of UW–Madison’s professional development courses, the roofing industry is well equipped to take on these upcoming challenges.

“What’s unique about the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s audience is they’re really committed and they want to be here. They’ve basically reached out to the University and made a commitment to be here… We get audiences here that push back, ask a lot of great questions, ask a lot of very intelligent questions, and from a presenter’s standpoint, it’s just really cool.”

Read and watch the full interview here.

Read and Watch the Full Interview Here

You can learn more about the new Advanced Topics and Current Issues in Low-slope Roofing course on the course website. Sign up for our mailing list to receive information on upcoming dates and related offerings.

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