The roof of a home takes the brunt of exposure from the elements. Any sustainable effort to green a house should start at the top. Choosing an eco-friendly roofing material creates energy-efficiency, minimises urban heat islands and works toward zero waste being generated. Asphalt shingles, metal panels, slate and clay all have environmentally-friendly characteristics to appease today's green-savvy consumer.
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A roof needs to be able to withstand wind and rain. Beyond that assess the environmental friendliness of a material by considering weight, durability, heat island effect, recycled content and ability to recycle post use. Think to the future and gauge whether the material will allow retro fitting to accommodate rain water recycling or solar panels.
Slate and Clay
Slate and clay roofing tiles are durable but heavy. Installation may require additional structural members. Fibre-cement composite roofing materials are light and use recycled mixed waste paper as well as wood fibre. Solar roof tiles are now available that can be installed with conventional roof tiles. The solar tiles generate electricity to power the home.
White membrane roofing material reflects solar heat and mitigates urban heat islands. An urban heat island is created in cities where roofs and pavement are heated 10.0 to 32.2 degrees C hotter than the temperature of the air by the sun.
Eco-friendly asphalt shingles contain mixed recycled paper in the base and reclaimed minerals in the aggregate on the surface. Asphalt shingles are not as durable and cannot be recycled post use. Since black asphalt is the base the shingle absorbs, rather than reflects, heat.
Arguably the most eco-friendly roofing material is metal. Made from steel, copper or aluminium, a metal roofing panel contains a high percentage of recycled content. Metal with a white coating reflects solar heat and mitigates urban heat islands. Metal is lightweight, durable and can be recycled post-use keeping the material out of landfills.
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