by Jacob Petit –
The roof is one area of the home that is often overlooked for purposes of energy efficiency, but it shouldn’t be. A large amount of the heat in a home is lost through the roof, which makes insulating it one of the easiest ways to cut down on costs. It also makes the roof a prime candidate for making a home more ‘green.’ Traditional roofing options are often constructed from shingles and other tar-based materials, none of which are environmentally friendly. If you’re interested in making an impact on the environment, consider one of these green roofing options.
Tile roofing is a popular choice in many warmer climates due to its curved design. The shape helps promote ventilation, allowing air to flow across the surface and draw heat away from the roof. Not only does this keep the interior of the home cooler, it also lends a particular look to the home. A potential downside is the weight; tile is heavy, but this also adds a sort of de facto insulation for warm days.
Recycled shingles function much like regular shingles, with the addendum that they are made from recycled waste. Not only does this keep more waste materials out of the landfill, it reduces the amount of material created through the production of shingles. Recycled shingles tend to be more affordable, and there are sometimes even tax benefits for using recycled materials.
While not precisely a style of roofing, repainting a roof can have just as many benefits as rebuilding. The right kind of paint can help to reflect sunlight and keep the interior cool and comfortable, no matter what the weather outside may be.
Metal roofing is a great choice, not only because it is often made from recycled materials, but it also provides a home with a very classic feel. Metal roofing lasts for a long time, often as much as fifty years or more, and is extremely durable. This means fewer repairs need to be made. Metal roofing is also a great choice for someone who wants to divert rainwater runoff into storage containers for day to day use, as the water will be relatively clean – there will be no chemical runoff like there might be from other forms of roofing. Although metal roofs can have a somewhat high initial cost, they are well worth it in the long run.
Many people do not even know rubber roofing options exist, much less what their benefits are. Rubber is extremely durable, with most warranties starting out at 50 years. It is also resistant to even the most extreme weather conditions. Available in most any color, rubber roofs can be modified to fit the style of any home. The downside is availability – not all areas allow rubber as a roofing material. To find out if your location does, contact your local building department.
Roof pavers are an interesting take on roofing material. They are small paving tiles designed for use on a roof. Due to their thickness, they make a great insulator, and their light colors can reflect as much as 78 percent of ultraviolet light. This helps to keep a home cool and comfortable during even the hottest weather. However, these tiles are heavy – a roof built entirely of these can weigh as much as 23 pounds per square foot. While this much weight can be great for insulation purposes, not all homes are rated to carry that kind of weight.
This is a very strange style of roof not often seen, and for good reason. It consists of plants.However, creating a living roof is a complicated process; the home must first be rated for how much of a load the roof can take, and then planting boxes, soil, and seeds must be installed on top. Although the plants themselves will absorb the sunlight and grow very quickly, the immediate benefits might not be readily apparent. The plants themselves will soak up water, so there is little risk of build up. Another potential issue is the maintenance; much like a garden, a living roof must be taken care of and looked after. It’s not exactly a suitable choice for homes with steep roofs.
No matter what form of roofing you choose, if done correctly, you can cut down on the amount of energy your home uses for years to come. Not only will this save you money, it will reduce the impact you leave on the environment.
Author: Jacob Pettit is an environmental writer and do-it-yourself kind of guy who focuses on ways to improve his home through more environmentally friendly methods. His most recent projects include a roof renovation and a new driveway.