With green building trends gaining popularity across the country, it’s clear that homeowners care about the carbon footprint their homes are leaving on the earth. From tight-envelope homes to those that are built from sustainable materials, there are a variety of ways to incorporate sustainability into your home’s build and design. If you’re building a green home, or are looking for a way to make your existing home just a bit more environmentally-friendly, here are the top 5 sustainable roofing materials people use when trying to build a “green” home.
#1 Metal Roofing
Metal roofing is one of the most affordable sustainable roofing materials you’ll find on this list. Bested only by asphalt roofing, metal roofs have always been a consumer favorite. They’re exceptionally durable, long-lasting, and require very little maintenance. They’re also energy efficient.
Most metal roofs on the market today are made from aluminum, which is a recyclable, natural resource. Since metal roofs can last more than 50 years, they won’t have to be re-roofed and they don’t require much maintenance, which minimizes the overall cost and waste associated with a metal roof.
#2 Slate Roofing
Slate roofing is a traditional favorite, and while you don’t see it as much here in the US, it’s a popular option throughout Europe, especially on older, historic buildings. Slate is a rock that’s cut into slabs and then installed directly onto a roof. What makes slate sustainable roofing material is its extreme longevity.
Slate roofs have been produced for more than a thousand years, and many have been known to last for hundreds of years with minimal maintenance. In addition to slate’s extreme longevity, it is a rock that’s sourced directly from the earth, so it doesn’t require any chemical manufacturing that can contribute to air pollution.
#3 Clay Tile Roofing
Clay tile is a recyclable, natural roofing material. Made from materials sourced from clay pits, clay tile is another sustainable roofing material that’s been around for hundreds of years. Clay roofs are more common here in the US and are seen most prevalently in the southwest because of their exceptional heat resistance.
Clay is a sustainable roofing material, but it’s important to know that clay tiles are a bit heavier, and a bit more expensive than other sustainable roofing materials. That said, though a clay roof might cost you more upfront, many clay roof manufacturers offer warranties that span more than 100 years. That upfront investment will go a long way to help you save in the future.
#4 Wood Shakes and Shingles
Wood shakes and shingles are one of the only truly sustainable roofing materials because wood is a renewable or sustainable resource. All other roofing materials might be recyclable, but unlike slate or clay, we can plant more trees.
Wood shakes and shingles have a few benefits. In addition to being a green and sustainable roofing material, some wood species are naturally pest-resistant, and wood roofing can provide great energy efficiency thanks to its insulating capabilities.
Though they do offer a number of benefits, wood shakes and shingles are a bit more expensive to install, and they won’t last as long as something like metal or clay. Some homeowners prefer them for their natural aesthetic, but it is good to know that if you invest in wood shakes or shingles, you’ll have to commit to some regular maintenance.
#5 Green Roofs
Green or living roofs are an unexpected sustainable roofing material that is quickly gaining popularity. These roofs have grass or other vegetation growing on top of the roof. It’s hard to properly calculate how sustainable green roofs are, because though they offer a great number of benefits — excellent insulation, adsorption of rainwater, reducing heat island effect in urban environments — they also have a few downfalls.
They’re very heavy, which means homes typically need additional reinforcements to support them, and they also require a heavy-duty membrane to waterproof the roof. Since rubber membranes are made with petroleum, it does in some way negate the other benefits a green roof offers.
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