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Making a sustainable roofing choice for your home doesn’t require planting a garden on your roof. There are many environmentally sound choices that don’t involve plant life or hundreds of pounds of soil overhead.
Below are four of the most common and easiest sustainable roofing choices available to the homeowner.
High Rated Roofs are a Safe Bet
A roof with a longer warrantee will save you money and be better for the environment. The energy required to make a roof that is rated to last 50 years is the same amount of energy that is consumed creating a roof with a 15 year warranty. [source]
A buyer should look for Class 4 shingles, which are rated to withstand hail. Although these shingles can cost between 10-20% more than lesser rated shingles, insurance companies will sometimes lower their rates if the Class 4 shingles are chosen.
Metal or slate roofs, which can easily last 100 years, are also an excellent, if more expensive choice. Metal in particular is preferable because of its ability to be recycled.
Reflective roofs use up to 40% less energy used for cooling according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A reflective roof also increases the resistance to UV damage, which also increases the longevity of the roof.
Reflective roofs are usually created through using a reflective mineral surfacing or topcoat. This makes it an ideal treatment for retrofitting an older building, especially one that has a large roof area and uses a lot of cooling energy.
Use Recycled Roofing Materials
There are hundreds of roofing materials that are available with 50% or more post consumer recycled content. These products also come with excellent warrantees that can last up to 75 years. Recycled rubber roofing, despite being a fairly new material, is a popular choice that uses discarded tires to create shingles.
Metal Roofs and its’ Many Positive Attributes
While metal roofs may have high embodied energy, they can also be recycled more efficiently than any other roofing material. Some metal roofs, such as aluminum, may be made out of 100% post consumer recycled materials. Metal roofs also have some of the longest warrantees available, reducing construction waste significantly when compared with standard 15 year asphalt shingles. Of course, the greatest advantage of metal roofing, its ability to be recycled, can only be reaped if the roof is taken apart and recycled when its useful life has ended.
Homeowners Should Consider the Big (Environmental) Picture
While many homeowners may think that a sustainable roof requires a large gesture, choosing any one of these options can make a large environmental impact. Even asphalt shingles can be upgraded to reduce energy and construction waste and could just get you a break on your homeowner’s insurance.
I have a lot of hands-on experience in the home construction industry, with a good deal of experience in sustainable building. I’m mostly interested in home restoration and home renovations.