While many eco-conscious homeowners today choose roofing materials based on reflectivity, there is a lot more to your roof's ecological impact than whether it can reflect light. Here are some different types of environmental effects that roofing materials can have and how you can minimize your roof's impact.
1. Solar Readiness
Some roofs are just easier to install solar panels on than others are. Of course, if you have a large yard with plenty of other sunny spots to install solar panels, this may not be a huge issue for you. But for many people, especially city dwellers, the roof may be the best spot for solar arrays.
Metal standing seam roofs can be among the easiest to install solar panels on. You can get connectors that just snap into the seams, and then you can install the solar panels without even making any perforations in the roof. Avoiding perforations is also better for roof longevity.
While you're thinking about longevity, consider this: even if your asphalt roofing material gets recycled, relatively frequent replacements mean more manufacturing is required to make new roofs for your house. And your roof will also require more transportation and virgin materials over the course of your lifetime.
So, naturally, lengthening the amount of time each roof lasts on average between replacements can help make your roof more eco-friendly. For example, a slate roof may go well over a hundred years before it requires a full replacement of new roofing material to be manufactured and transported to the site.
Some roofing materials with great longevity include copper, clay tile, and slate, which can last upwards of a hundred years if you choose the highest-quality slate (there are several varieties and colors, and some are softer than others). If you're not looking to pay top dollar, you can still use longevity to minimize impact by choosing clay tile, concrete tile, aluminum, or steel roofing.
Even a super-high-quality asphalt roof with a forty- or fifty-year warranty is much better than the typical 3-tab asphalt shingles, which oftentimes last only 15 to 18 years (although this varies by product, installation, and climate).
3. Reusability and Low Waste
Of course, if your roof is going to end up in a landfill when you're done with it, that's not great for the environment, even if it does last fifty years first. So choose something that can be easily recycled or reclaimed or something that is biodegradable (such as cedar).
For example, roof slates that have passed their working life as a roof covering can still be extremely useful. They may have a second live as flagstones for a floor, as a non-waterproof roof for a gazebo, or as beautiful stones for a footpath. Even after breaking into pieces, slate can still be used decoratively in a garden, so there's no reason to send slate to a landfill.
4. Recycled Versus Virgin Materials
The fewer virgin materials your roof uses, the better. Often the alternative is using virgin, non-renewable resources. You can decrease the impact of even an asphalt roof by looking for a product with a high recycled material content. Slate or tiles that have been reclaimed are also a more carbon-neutral choice.
Metal roofing material, too, typically has plenty of recycled material, and you can even find products with 95% recycled content. What this all means is that basically any roof you plan, no matter what material you want, can be made more eco-friendly by looking for a supplier that reuses and recycles materials.
These criteria will help you look at the whole picture when choosing an eco-friendly roof, rather than focusing solely on reflectivity and whether it's a cool roof. Contact us today to learn more about how Whittle's Roofing Co., Inc. can help you create an eco-friendly roof in the warm, sunny climate of northern Florida.