When considering replacing a roof, or when you’re thinking about what roofing materials you’d like to use on a home or structure that you are in the process of building, you might not immediately think of sustainability as an important factor–but it is. We can all agree that using sustainable roofing materials is one way we can be good stewards of the Earth and avoid waste.
But how does that factor into construction, especially the materials on a roof? Some roofing materials are much more sustainable than others. Certain materials can also help your entire home be more energy efficient and therefore more sustainable. Not only are these materials sustainable, but materials like metal are also very beneficial for your roof practically speaking, and give your home or structure a unique look.
Before putting the roof on your home or building, consider these several sustainable roofing materials and how you could incorporate them into your building project to promote sustainability.
What Is Sustainability?
It is first helpful to understand what exactly is meant by sustainability. If something is sustainable, it means that it fulfills a need in the present without harming the state of the environment in the future. Using a sustainable material now won’t harm the planet for generations in the future.
An example of this would be using solar or hydro power for energy. Water and sunlight are resources that are easily attainable and they are plentiful. Using them as an energy source now won’t deplete resources in the future. They also won’t have a negative impact on the environment which could build to detrimental levels in the future.
How a Roof Can Be Sustainable
A roof can be sustainable in several ways. First of all, it can serve your home in such a way that conserves energy. This can contribute to using fewer nonrenewable resources and also can put fewer pollutants in the environment. It can also be sustainable in that you choose to use materials that do not have a negative impact on the environment in regards to construction. You can contribute to conservation in a positive way, also, by using reclaimed materials for your roof. This is possible by finding recycled materials, or recycling your old roofing materials before adding a new one, if applicable.
Sustainable roofing materials, in order to be truly sustainable, must be 1) easy to procure without requiring extensive transport costs and effort; 2) be an easily renewable resource; 3) be long lasting to avoid having to replace them often, which would use more materials; and 4) conserve energy or generate energy themselves (solar panels, for example).
A Few Sustainable (& Not So Sustainable) Roofing Materials
Here are a few sustainable roofing materials to consider as you embark upon replacing or building your new roof while keeping our planet’s health in mind. This list also contains a few materials that are not very sustainable, so you can keep an eye out for these and know what to avoid, as well.
3 Sustainable Roofing Materials:
Sustainable materials for your roof can be very beneficial; not only for the planet, but for your wallet as well. These materials may have a higher upfront cost, but save you money during use.
Standing seam metal roofing is a great sustainable material. It is long lasting, so you won’t have to replace it for at least 50 years. The materials are easy to procure, and it is generally quite durable. It is also extremely energy efficient, which will save you money on energy costs in the long run. As well as personal financial benefits, metal roofs also benefit he environment with reduced energy expenditures.
2. Clay or slate tiles:
This option can create a beautiful southwestern or Mediterranean look for your home. Only consider using clay or slate tiles if they are reclaimed or recycled tiles, as mining for clay and slate mining can be unsustainable and hard on the environment.
3. Recycled Roof Materials:
Living in a more environment-conscious era, there are many recycled materials out there to use on your roof compared to twenty years ago. With a little searching, you’ll be able to find recycled roofing materials that look like wood, metal, or slate tiles, but are actually made out of recycled plastics. This can provide a unique look along with sustainability. When you’re finished with this roof, it can also be recycled again.
2 Non-Sustainable Materials:
Along with sustainable materials, there are always non-sustainable materials as well. These are more common, but have negative effects on the Earth. On top of that, they are cheaper to produce, which means you must pay for replacements more often. These materials also do not help with reducing any energy costs.
1. Roof coatings:
Some roof materials have, or can be painted with, coatings of zinc or copper. This often helps to avoid unsightly black stains that are actually caused by mold. These can, however, be harmful to plants and animals as they wash off in rain and moisture and onto your yard. This could especially cause problems if you have a pond with live fish near your home.
2. Tar and gravel:
Other materials to avoid are tar and gravel. These are not recyclable materials and the fumes given off, especially by tar, are not good for the environment. These are cheap and keep warm air in a structure, but these materials don’t pave the way for a sustainable future as other materials do.
To conclude; metal, clay or slate tiles, and recycled roofing materials are the top three considerations when it comes to sustainable roofing materials. You also have more reasons than just their sustainability to try these in any roofing projects this year. They are not only great for the environment and help to pave the way for a more sustainable future, but they also provide great benefits for your home and construction project.
These options provide you with a unique look, but also prove to keep warm air inside in the winter and keep your home cool in the summer. Energy efficiency is another top factor when considering what sustainable roofing materials to use. There are some materials you’ll want to avoid, like anything that is not reclaimed or recycled, or anything that won’t last a long time, as this will result in you having to use more materials in the long run.
Sustainability ensures that the future generations have materials to work with on a healthy and thriving planet. You can do your part by incorporating this idea into any construction or roofing project by choosing the sustainable option first.