Is There Affordable Eco-Friendly Roofing?

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Jan 01, 2011 | Networx Team
First ridge vent takes shape

Photo: DolfinDans, Flickr.com

Most people understand the importance of looking out for the environment by conserving energy and water, and minimizing waste. In addition to the environmental benefits of going green, there are also many financial benefits. If you manage to maintain your quality of living while using less electricity and water you’ll be saving money on your utility bills. With that in mind, there are many ways you can implement green living.

In terms of roofing, it’s important to remember the three Rs of green living: reduce, reuse and recycle. In the case of roofing, the major factor in being Eco-friendly is the durability of the material. The longer-lasting it is, the less waste that will be created. This will also save you replacement and maintenance costs, insulate your home better and make your heating and cooling more efficient. If you live in a sunny area such as Tucson, Arizona, one way to save energy is by installing lighter-colored roofing. This will reflect some of the suns heat and cool your home without having to run the air conditioner as much.

Types of Roofing Materials

  • Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing shingles in the U.S. because of their easy installation and relatively inexpensive price of between $1.50 and $4 a square foot. However, they are also the most damaging to the environment because of their short life span and polluting materials.
  • Slate shingles are another popular choice. Though durable, low-maintenance and even recyclable, the energy expended in quarrying the slate is considerable. At $8–$12 a square foot, slate is a more Eco-friendly option that asphalt, but still not very good for the environment overall.
  • Wood shingles are a little less expensive than slate, costing between $5 and $8 a square foot. However, they are not very long lasting because they can rot, warp and be destroyed by insects. If wood is the only material that will suit your home, be sure it has Forest Stewardship Council certification, which means the wood comes from a responsibly-managed forest.
  • Metal is a relatively Eco-friendly choice because it tends to have a high percentage of recycled content and is extremely durable. However, the manufacturing of metal roofing is requires quite a lot of energy and the material can be expensive, costing between $7 and $10 per square foot.
  • Ceramic tiles last very long and are therefore better for the environment. Made of natural clay and water, ceramic roofs can have 50- to 75-year warranties, and at times last even longer, and only cost between $4 and $10. They’re also recyclable and can be crushed and reused for many other construction purposes.
  • Recycled materials make the most environmentally-friendly roofing shingles. These consist of waste materials like rubber, plastic, and wood, and are very durable and not too expensive. They come in a variety of different looks including wood, rubber, asphalt and concrete. Costing between $7 and $10 per square foot, they’re comparable in price to metal, wood and ceramic tile, and are the most Eco-friendly option.

With green options becoming more and more popular, the prices of Eco-friendly products are becoming more competitive. Recycled shingles are the greenest option, and are similarly priced to some of the cheapest shingles out there. For the most efficient green roofing option, contact a professional roofer and discuss your home’s needs and budget.

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