Posted February 01, 2016 by Gabriel Posternak

What's an eco-friendly roof and how you build one?

There is a lot going on about eco-friendly roofs but not everything is about installing solar panels or a living roof. You can have a sustainable and energy efficient roof while upgrading or rebuilding yours by just following these recommendations.

Ok, but what is an eco-friendly roof, then?

It is a roofing solution that protects the house from the elements while reduces energy usage and produces a low impact in the environment by being durable and disposable.

Depending on the general design of the house and the year-round climate of the area, a roofing contractor can tell you the option more suitable for your project.

Building a sustainable and efficient roof

There is much at stake when building a roof so is definitely not a DIY project. Even if you think that replacing some shingles or applying a coating is an easy task the fact is that it is not only hard and difficult but it also can be risky to you and the integrity of the building if it is not done properly.

If you need a new roof or just a repair, do some research about the professionals in your area and all their eco-friendly roofing options. You may also want to ask them how are their prepared to dispose or repurpose your old roof to minimize waste: now old asphalt shingles are reused as road pavement and the debris from one average home can help pave 200 feet of a two-lane highway.

Cool Roof

Urban areas with buildings, paved areas and less vegetation are usually warmer than their rural surroundings, a phenomenon known as the “heat island effect”. Cool roofs are built to reflect sunlight and heat, reducing roof temperatures and keeping the building up to 100 degrees cooler on peak summer weather, thus helping to prevent the heat island effect at the same time.

The main advantages of this option are

  • Reduced energy usage: the building stays cooler and uses less energy for air conditioning.
  • Reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions: by optimizing energy usage it lowers associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improved human health: reducing temperatures inside buildings -even without air conditioning- helps prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.

Various materials can be used to build cool roofs, depending on the house design.

Clay tiles, metal and asphalt shingles can be manufactured or post-treated with coatings to build energy efficient cool roofs, with solar reflectances ranging from 20 to 90 percent Energy Star® certified. If you want wood shingles -not as green option as the others- try to avoid the old-growth trees and look for a product made from reclaimed or FSC-certified lumber instead. These materials are usually applied to steep-sloped residential roofing.

Low-slope or flat roofs can be treated with coatings and single-ply membranes or a combination of both with excellent results in solar reflectances of 80/90 percent or more Energy Star® certified.

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And then, whatever is your cool roofing of choice, don’t forget to ventilate to extend the lifetime of the new structure. Houses with poor attic ventilation systems need to change the roofing every 12 years while it should last more than 25 just avoiding moisture and condensation damage.

So now choose a contractor with experience and a good warranty to secure your investment, the best certified materials to make it efficient and a good plan for disposing the waste generated with the job and you are ready to go with your new eco-friendly roofing project!

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