WHO MAKES IT - Germany’s FlachDach Technologie is a €70m-turnover company that manufactures waterproofing roofing membranes from polyisobutylene. For a full guide to suppliers of sustainability products, log on to www.building.co.uk/specifier

FlachDach Technologie (FDT) was founded in 1873 to manufacture waterproofing roofing membranes from polyisobutylene (PIB). The material is one of the oldest still used for the process. The Mannheim-based company’s single-ply membranes have been on the market since the 1930s and it now has a turnover of €70m (£47m).

FDT has been in the UK since the mid-1970s and a subsidiary employing 10 of its 400 Europe-wide staff has been based in the Midlands since the late 1990s. We spoke to Patrick Faramia, FDT’s export manager

Q: Can single-ply membranes be used for any application?

A: Yes, for any sector that requires roofing waterproofing, such as stadiums – we worked on the Stade de France in Paris – logistics centres, hotels, private homes. This is a flexible product that we can supply for flat or more complex roofs. It’s an interesting product for places such as schools and airports because activity can still take place while the product is being installed.

Q: What projects are you working on?

A: We’ve just finished the refurbishment of the 30,000m2 Bosch production plant in Cardiff. They chose our product because it’s compatible with bitumen and it can be put on top of an existing roof without stopping production. We completed the project in 12 weeks.

Q: Which products are popular?

A: Bitumen membrane is still the main one, but demand is decreasing. PVC membranes are also popular, but the PIB membrane – which at present represents a third of market share – is becoming more popular because of its excellent life cycle. It can also be used in extremes of temperature. We’re working on the refurbishment of the national theatre in Lagos, Nigeria, where high humidity and temperature mean metal roofs rust and the bitumen membranes turn to liquid. The client specified a single-ply membrane for the new green roof.

Q: Do you supply green roofs?

A: When we work on green roofs we collaborate with garden specialists to give clients a complete package.

Q: How do you work with specifiers?

A: We’re always strongly involved in the specification. We have a technical department that specialises in supporting specifiers and installers. We follow projects from the design stage to the final installation.

Q: What’s the most challenging specification you’ve come across?

A: We’re supplying the roofing membrane for a cultural centre in the Netherlands. It was a complicated 3D design that had an elliptical shape. We had to respect the design and find a technical solution. We made it.

Q: Are there some specifications that are impossible to achieve ?

A: We work with AutoCAD facilities and our technical manager spends a lot of time meeting up with the specifier, so we can integrate the solutions. It’s difficult when people don’t consider the environment. For example, for an exposed building close to the sea, there are extra costs incurred by the additional fixings to make sure the roof stays in place. It costs more and often specifiers haven’t budgeted for that.

Q: What new technical developments are you working on at the moment?

A: We’ve developed a Velcro system for the roofing membranes that allows connections to be made without screws. We’re focusing on improving life expectancy and making our products more user-friendly.

Q: Are there any new factors that could lead to higher prices of your products?

A: The current situation with oil might be a problem for PVC membranes. For PIB membranes, only 25% of their make-up comes from oil-derivative materials – the rest is mineral and there is no limit in supply. But the consumption of oil for roofing membranes is really nothing compared to cars and housing.