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Commercial Roofing

How Commercial Skylights Can Boost Revenue

By Annie Crawford

January 17, 2023

Commercial skylights can help save on energy use

Historically, commercial skylights have gotten a bad rap. "The old joke was: 'if it's not leaking now, it will be soon,'" says Brian Grohe, a 13-year vet of the skylight industry and a commercial sales manager at industry leader VELUX. Fortunately, technology has changed that old tune for the better, turning commercial skylights into a golden opportunity for roofing contractors.

Thanks to revolutionized frame designs, glazing, and water management strategies, installing these rays of light in a roof provides added value to customers while increasing project revenue. Plus, it's now possible to streamline skylight ordering, delivery, and warranty/guarantee services through your roofing manufacturer, which can help save time and money.

Benefits of Commercial Skylights

"The skylight of the past is not the skylight of the present," Brian explains. "The aesthetic and practical benefits can improve a building's space, increase revenue, and positively impact resale value." Here are just some of the perks of incorporating natural overhead light into your commercial roofing repertoire.

Contractor Benefits

  • Expand work opportunities: Replacement work makes up a large part of the commercial skylight industry, according to Brian. This presents a tremendous service opportunity for contractors if they can identify and repair or replace an older skylight that is sun-damaged, broken, or leaking. "Solve a building owner's problem for them," suggests Brian, "and you'll expand your work while adding value for the customer."
  • Increase revenue potential: Adding this ancillary product into a project proposal provides aesthetic and financial benefits to the customer, and increased revenue potential for the contractor.

Benefits for Building Owners

  • Save money: Explain to customers how a skylight can reduce electrical consumption by harnessing sunlight. In fact, a daylighting strategy can reduce the need for energy-consuming electric lighting by 20% to 80%. This saves on costs for building owners.*
  • Improve tenant or employee well-being: Exposure to natural light can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of a space. This can increase employee productivity, work satisfaction, and overall wellness.
  • Boost building value: Enhancing the architecture and natural light in a space can improve the building's appearance and increase potential resale value.

Skylight Types

Commercial skylights come in a range of shapes — dome, pyramid, vault, low-profile, etc. There are also different functionalities, such as vented or fixed, which describe whether the skylight provides ventilation. All of these options fall into two main categories: glass and plastic.

A glass skylight is often an architectural consideration, Brian says. "[They] accentuate designs of the building and provide a stunning view."

Most commercial skylight projects like those in "industrial buildings, retail, some office spaces, and places like school gyms use the plastic unit skylight," says Brian. Fortunately, "these are already in a roofer's wheelhouse, because it's no different — from a flashing standpoint — than any other roof penetration."

Unlike older plastic skylight materials that didn't provide much UV protection, prismatic polycarbonate is now the industry standard. A modern plastic skylight can offer high-clarity, excellent thermal insulation, impact resistance, UV protection, and long-term high light transmission.

Choosing the Right Skylight

Take these factors into consideration when navigating skylight brand and style selection for a project:

  • Customer and building needs: A project in a storm-prone region may benefit most from a hurricane-rated skylight, while another project focused on maximizing energy efficiency would benefit from sun-harvesting industrial warehouse skylights. For example, VELUX offers the Dynamic Dome, engineered to harvest more early morning and late afternoon daylight than its competitors and allow a building's lights to remain off for nearly an extra hour per day.
  • Proprietary skylight designs: Proprietary skylight offerings from a company typically provide "stronger impact resistance and better UV resistance long-term," says Brian. Often, proprietary designs last longer for the building owner and are safer for roofers.
  • Warranty/Guarantee coverage: Carefully research what a warranty covers when selecting the commercial skylight you'll use for a project. "Some skylight manufacturers have very limited warranties," Brian notes. GAF and VELUX offer a new approach — when purchased through GAF, VELUX skylights are eligible for up to 20-years of coverage under GAF NDL (no dollar limit) guarantees.**

Combining Roof and Skylight Warranties

Roofers can make a project easier and get a stronger warranty by going through one manufacturer and distributor for both their roof and skylight needs. GAF and VELUX have teamed up to provide this seamless service. This alliance "streamlines skylight ordering, freight coordination, warranty/guarantee registration, and any manufacturer claims because it's one manufacturer and one distributor handling the project needs," explains Brian.

For roofers, the project makes it easier from a purchasing and ordering standpoint: "All order management and freight coordination happen through one source," says Brian. Consolidating roofing and skylight needs also streamlines the delivery of materials coming to a job site.

This also holds advantages during the life of the roof. "You're getting a warranty that's tied into the roof system," says Brian. "This means that if there is a problem with a skylight after construction is completed, the contractor or building owner doesn't have to find out who the manufacturer is and submit a separate claim — they can handle claims through GAF. Also, the timing of the roof guarantees and skylight warranties will match, meaning there are no gaps in coverage."

Want to learn more about expanding your roofing services while upgrading your commercial roofing projects? GAF can offer support and expertise for skylight projects and level up your work. Get in touch with your territory manager today.

*Savings will vary and are not guaranteed.
**See applicable warranty and guarantee documents, available at gaf.com, for complete coverage and restrictions.

About the Author

Annie Crawford is a freelance writer in Oakland, CA, covering travel, style, and home improvement. Find more of her work at annielcrawford.com.

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