The Environmental Impact of Your Roofing Choices

Last Updated:
June 19, 2023
Kay Nicole

The Environmental Impact of Your Roofing Choices

The roofing materials you choose can have a significant environmental impact. Asphalt shingle roofs, for example, contribute 11 million tons of waste to landfills each year and increase dependence on fossil fuels.

Choosing eco-friendly and energy-efficient shingles can help reduce greenhouse gasses and lower energy costs. Geography and climate also play a role in determining which roofing products will work best.

Metal Roofs

Many homeowners and homebuyers today prioritize eco-friendly living, which includes making environmentally sound choices in their new homes or renovations. Metal roofs are becoming a popular alternative to shingles and other roofing materials, offering several green benefits that can help you live more sustainably.

For one, metal roofs can be coated in various ways to maximize their solar reflectivity. Some of these coatings can prevent up to 95% of the sun's rays from reaching the inside of your home, drastically reducing energy consumption. This will decrease your air-conditioning usage during the summer, lowering your overall energy costs.

Additionally, metal roofs are typically made from recycled products, reducing the amount of new materials needed. This can help lower your environmental footprint even further. Depending on the type of metal used, such as aluminum or steel, these roofs can also be fully recyclable at the end of their lifespan.

Additionally, metal roofs last much longer than traditional shingle roofs. This can reduce the need for frequent roof replacements, significantly lowering your carbon footprint. Lastly, some metal roofs can accommodate renewable energy systems, which can further reduce your impact on the environment. While these green benefits are excellent, you need to weigh the upfront cost of a metal roof against potential energy savings and long-term costs.

Asphalt Shingles

More than 7 million American homes get a new roof put on every year, most of which are asphalt shingle-covered roofs. Shingles are an affordable option that can add value to a home and are easy to replace if damaged.

But they're also non-biodegradable and a source of pollution when discarded, taking hundreds of years to break down and releasing carcinogenic chemicals into groundwater supplies fully. Additionally, the sheer number of shingles in landfills takes away valuable space from other types of waste and contributes to local odor issues.

However, opting for a shingle roof that meets green standards can reduce your impact.

Other eco-friendly shingles include metal and tile roofs, along with those made of clay or concrete, making a roof pitch calculator an essential tool for accurately planning and installing these sustainable options. These are much more durable than traditional shingles and offer better protection for your home.

Today's shingles come in various styles, including basic 3-tab shingles that look flat and resemble subway tile and architectural or dimensional shingles that resemble wood shakes or slate. They are lightweight, making them easier to install and replace if a shingle is damaged. They are also fire-resistant, wind-resistant and comply with weather and energy efficiency standards.

Wood Shingles & Shakes

Wood shingles and shakes offer the natural, earthy aesthetic that many homeowners prefer. They can be manufactured from various materials, including wood, bitumen, slate, stone, and cement. They can be cut, sawn, split, or a combination of the three, and are available in several lengths. They can also be treated with preservatives or fire retardants before and after installation.

Cedar shakes and shingles are harvested from old-growth western red cedar in coastal temperate rainforests and are processed at shake mills to create the finished product. These mills use environmentally-friendly practices to ensure that only the best material quality is used and that no damage is done to the surrounding ecosystem during harvesting or processing.

As with other roofing materials, wood shingles and shakes require regular replacement due to moisture-related issues such as mold, mildew, and rot. In addition, they are not flame-proof, making them a liability for homeowners in some regions.

As you shop for a wood shingle or shake roof at the best roofing company in New Jersey, look for ones treated with a water-repellant and pigment. Also, be sure to look for a wood shingle or shake that is pre-treated with a preservative, which helps prevent moisture and decay. Wood shingles and shakes that are not treated can degrade quickly, and rot and mold growth will taint the roof's appearance.

Concrete & Clay Tiles

Concrete and clay tiles are an excellent choice for creating an eco-friendly building. They have a lower embodied energy, are highly durable, and require less maintenance than other roofing materials. They can also reflect a large percentage of solar energy, significantly reducing homes' need for air conditioning.

Unlike asphalt shingles that need to be regularly replaced, clay and concrete roof tiles can last up to 100 years, saving energy costs over their lifespans. This longevity and energy efficiency make them one of the greenest roofing options on the market.

Both clay and concrete tiles come in various colors and styles, which can fit many different aesthetics. Whether you are going for the classic Mission style of tile or the more modern interlocking shingle, both provide stylish designs that can increase your home's value and curb appeal.

While these roof tiles offer beautiful visuals for your home, they are not immune to weather effects. Both materials are prone to water absorption, which can cause the development of mildew, algae, and even moss. This can be minimized by having your roof sealed.

Keeping your roof clean and free of moss and replacing cracked or damaged tiles can also help extend your tiles' life. It is important to remember that, despite their durability, clay and concrete tiles are still relatively lightweight and therefore need to be supported by a strong house structure.

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