Eco-Friendly Roofing Options

Written by Morgan Kaenzig de Denus, AMAST Content

Photo by RoyBuri on

For years, asphalt shingles have been a popular roofing choice. They are a cost-effective, fire-resistant, and easy-to-install roofing option. Unfortunately, asphalt shingles are not very sustainable, and asphalt shingle roofs generally last only twelve to twenty years. As a result, over 11 million tons of asphalt shingle scraps are generated each year, and these discarded asphalt shingles may take up to four hundred years to break down. Fortunately, there are several eco-friendly alternatives to asphalt shingles.

Metal Roofs

Metal is an excellent alternative to asphalt. Most metal roofs are made from recycled metal, and they are 100% recyclable at the end of their lifetime. Metal roofs can also reflect solar radiation, which reduces the need for air conditioning or fans during the summer by up to 40%.

Metal roofs also last much longer than their asphalt counterparts. While an asphalt roof will generally last between twelve and twenty years before heading to a landfill, a metal roof can last anywhere between forty and seventy years before being recycled. Some metals may last even longer.

Recycled Rubber Roofing

Around 246 million used scrap tires were generated in the United States in 2015 alone. One recycled rubber roof can use anywhere between 250 and 1,000 scrap rubber tires, diverting them from a landfill and putting them to good use. Rubber roofs provide excellent insulation and can significantly lower utility bills. Some rubber roofs, like Euroshake and Euroslate, are composed of around 96% recycled material, making them quite sustainable.

Rubber roofs are also durable. They are able to resist harsh weather conditions and can last for up to 50 years. For an enhanced texture, rubber roofing can be coated with ground slate.

Composition Shingle Roofing

Composition shingles are composed of a mixture of materials like tar paper, asphalt, slate, laminate, shake, wood, fiberglass, recycled paper products, and more. Generally, composite roofs will last twenty to fifty years. They are a cost-effective roofing option and are available as laminate shingles, 3-tab shingles, or architectural shingles.

Composition shingles are even flame resistant, depending on the mixture of materials. These shingles are also resistant to stains, mold, and algae, so they do not require much maintenance.

Tiled Roofs

Tile roofing is an excellent option for buildings that are in a hot climate, are exposed to salt air, or receive large amounts of rainfall in a short period of time. Tiled roofs are very durable and can last 100 years. Roofing tiles can be made from slate, fired clay, terra cotta product, or concrete.

Green Roofs

These eco-friendly roofs are covered with a lightweight growing medium and vegetation. Green roofs provide insulation and can reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the floor just below the roof by an impressive 50%. As a result, ventilation systems, heating systems, and HVAC systems may experience an extended lifespan.

Vegetated roofs can also improve the air quality as a 1,000-square-foot living roof can eliminate 40 pounds of Particulate Matter from the atmosphere. Some green roofs use growing mediums or modules that contain recycled materials.

Solar Shingles and Solar Panels

Installing solar panels on a building’s roof will provide its occupants with a clean, renewable energy source. Installing solar panels can also extend the roof’s life and help insulate the roof as the panels will protect and shade the roof. As a result, the building will have fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Like solar panels, solar shingles can convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Solar shingles are a relatively new technology. Before 2008, solar shingles were not very efficient. However, when people started using copper indium gallium diselenide in solar shingles, solar shingles reached a 19.9% conversion efficiency, allowing solar shingles to convert the sun’s energy at a similar rate to solar panels.


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