Alpine SnowGuards’ LedgeGuard was introduced in 2019 as a snow guard solution to the risk of falling ice and snow from high-rise city buildings onto busy sidewalks and streets below. The product has proven its strength and performance after rigorous pre-launch testing and almost three years of installations in US cities known for perilous weather patterns.
“The popularity of LedgeGuard has been gaining ground,” said Kris Michaud, Alpine SnowGuards’ technical support manager. “We are receiving increased product inquiries and seeing it more frequently added to building project specifications.”
Modern Weather Patterns & Building Façade Materials
Michaud explained reasons behind the sparked interest in snow guards for façades:
- Modern weather patterns (more intense and more frequent freeze/thaw cycles and the increased formation of ice) are adversely affecting ice melt on buildings
- Modern façade materials are thermally efficient and restrict heat from escaping, contributing to ice build-up
- Videos shared on social media have played a part in increasing awareness of the issue
“When you’re 50 stories up and the snow and ice that’s falling off gets caught by the wind, it can end up a whole city block away from the building, up to ¼ mile or more. So, the fallout from the snow and ice falling off these buildings extends a long way from where the building is.”
Moisture in the air turns to ice and forms on tall buildings. The upper levels of the buildings are colder than the city street and ice will form on those surfaces but not necessarily at the lower levels.
Modern façade building materials are constructed of thin layers of metal, like aluminum, with an insulating layer of foam composite in between. The foam composite stiffens the aluminum making it a really rigid system with a smooth, insulated surface that is more prone to ice falling off, Michaud explained.
The Scale of the Issue
To understand the scale of the issue, Michaud discussed a recent 50+ story Alpine project with snow guards on every setback with continuous copings, a façade element ledge detail, around the perimeter.
“They needed snow guards on every floor, at each coping to stop ice from sliding off and falling 6, 10, 30, 50 stories out into the street.”
Historic & Modern Façade Construction
The word façade is borrowed from the French, meaning “face” or “frontage.” Façade construction for tall buildings from the 1950s and ’60s (concrete, brick, asphalt and other kinds of generic building materials in the U.S.} has migrated to steel and glass. Now, new construction is almost exclusively metal and glass. This doesn’t exclude historical buildings from falling snow and ice as many of these buildings are growing in height with additions of modern architecture and façades.
Historical building owners are now experiencing a previous non issue. The new construction is accumulating ice and snow in a way the original building façades never did and it has to be fixed.
“In the last 20 years, this has become a major issue,” said Michaud.
LedgeGuard for Higher and Lower Building Elevations
To answer whether LedgeGuard would be necessary from the ground floor to the top, Michaud offered this:
“You would need LedgeGuard installed on the top floors of a building because you may get more icing accretion depending on how tall the building is. On lower elevations, you would need it more for snowfall protection. Depends on the climate, too,” he said. “In Missouri, it may not be as much of an issue as it is in New York City, where you can have a one-foot snow storm and those accretions build up on the lower levels. There was a project we did in Boston recently where snow and ice were falling off a second story and they had to protect the first floor. So, even second story or just above the first floor is really critical for snowfall protection.”
LedgeGuard is Most Extensively Lab Tested Alpine System
Alpine has invested in more extensive testing on the LedgeGuard system of snow guards for façades than any other product offered, including in-house snow guard performance testing facility. LedgeGuard was also tested in both a climate chamber and a wind tunnel on three separate occasions for three weeks by Micro-Climate Ice & Snow, a third-party testing facility consulting firm that specializes in identifying ice and snow collection on buildings and structures to understand its behavior.
“With the wind tunnel testing we’ve done, I’m very confident in our LedgeGuard system,” said Michaud. “Our products are extensively tested and recommended by Micro Climate Ice and Snow. Rowan, Williams, Davies and Irwin, international consultants that work on high-rise buildings and work primarily with ice and snow consultation, are also referring customers to us.”
Alpine’s LedgeGuard Product Specifics
Alpine’s patented LedgeGuard products are ledge-style snow guards that are essential for any façade or cornice that collects and sheds snow. Snow and ice can avalanche off of sloped pitches, parapets, balconies and terraces, posing a hazard to people and property below. Alpine SnowGuards’ LedgeGuard products hold the snow and ice in position, allowing it to melt and shed gradually, instead of all at once, preventing injuries to pedestrians and property damage.
Snow Guards for Façades
LedgeGuard 1.5 gets its name from the 1.5” width of the extrusion that Alpine cut to house two rods. Special features include:
- Allows for water drainage
- Patented, integrated watertight seal for the fastener
- Lower profile can accommodate casement windows
- Anti-lift fins to provide uplift resistance for ice caught by the wind
- Tested and performance proven by MicroClimate Snow & Ice
- Lighter, clean profile
- Most cost effective
- Appealing low visibility (especially when powder coated)
- Powder coating to match any façade system
- Includes riser plates that allow for proper water drainage
- Tested and performance proven by MicroClimate Snow & Ice
- Essentially the LedgeGuard Bar, but cut into 12” pieces to accommodate unique installs
- Excellent option for façade systems that are irregular (eg. a dome where a continuous bar wouldn’t work)
- Depending on consistency of snow and roof slope, a 6” tall snow guard can hold 5 feet of snow back
- Alpine’s testing documentation showed over 2 feet of snow behind Ledge Guards at different points on a steep 1:12 pitch roof, which is steeper than most applications
- Snow almost 15 times the height of the snow guard will be retained
Next Phase of Calculator Improvements to Include LedgeGuard
The ability to calculate LedgeGuard products will be possible by January 2023 during Alpine’s next phase of calculator improvements.
LedgeGuard Point of Contact
Please reach out directly to Alpine’s technical support manager Kris Michaud for any assistance with quoting LedgeGuard for your property:
About Kris Michaud
Kris Michaud is Alpine SnowGuards’ technical support manager. With over 12 years’ experience in the roofing industry, he is a core research and development team member. He has been named on three patents for the employee-owned company and has helped Alpine launch 10 innovative snow management solutions. One of his primary responsibilities includes analyzing data from the manufacturer’s in-house snow guard performance testing facility to inform product documentation for architects, engineers, construction companies, developers, distributors and roofing contractors.
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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.