Choices for sustainable roofing are expanding

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A metal roof can be manufactured from as much as 100% recycled content.

There are a number of choices for sustainable roofing materials. Look for recycled materials and those that don’t require a lot of shipping and that will work where you are building.

Recycled plastic shingles are made from milk jugs, bags and bottles. They are resistant to moisture, bacteria, and insects. They can be used as a substitute for wood and metal shingles.

Recycled metal roofing is durable and long lasting.  Made from recycled aluminum and steel, this roofing is recyclable at the end of its life too. Since it is lightweight it can save in shipping costs. Metal roofs are great for rainwater catchment systems, but installing a large area of copper can lead to some contamination in rainwater runoff.

Tires are also being recycled into shingles. They carry a Class A fire rating, are lightweight, and provide great insulation. It’s difficult to tell them apart from classic shingles. They look and saw like wood, can withstand winds up to 110 mph, and can be used on low-slope roofs. They can be recycled at the end of their life, however, the process requires a lot of energy.

Shingles made from recycled carpet look a lot like wood, and perform well. They too are lightweight.

Fiber cement tiles, if made with fly ash and slag instead of Portland cement, can be a lightweight sustainable roofing material. The tiles are resistant to rot, buckling, fire, termites, and most harsh weather. However, they are not recommended for northern regions or high altitudes because they if they absorb moisture and the wet fibers freeze, they can damage the shingles when they expand. Fiber cement shingles also can be easily damaged by hail.

Since they are made from an abundantly available, inert material, clay tiles can be a good choice if you live close to where they are made. They are heavy, so a proper roof support is necessary. They are long-lasting, up to 100 years, and the corrugated design can have a cooling effect on the roof system. Hail can damage or shatter clay tiles, so they are not the best choice in an area with harsh weather. Look for clay tiles that contain a minimum of 5% post-consumer recycled content or 20% pre-consumer recycled content.

If you live in a mid-Atlantic or Northeastern state, slate can be a sustainable choice for roofing. It’s durable and can last over 100 years. Look for salvaged slate if you can.

For more information

The Metal Construction Association

Cool Metal Roofing

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide to recovered materials content for roofing

Posted by on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010. Filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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