4 Green Roofing Options (Including 1 That Will Shock You)

In an attempt to lower their carbon footprint on the earth, many homeowners are turning to greener options in building materials. This can mean many things, from using recycled materials to choosing products that are harvested via sustainable practices. When selecting roofing materials, there are plenty of options that satisfy green builders and homeowners.

Metal Roofing:

Metal roofs have long been a favorite among builders and homeowners alike. Not only are they sturdy and reliable, but they have a 50+ year life expectancy, which helps compensate for the higher expense. From a green perspective, metal roofing, available in sheets, corrugated panels, standing seam panels, and even individual shakes, uses up to 30 percent recycled steel and aluminum products. It also reflects up to 90 percent of solar rays, which can reduce cooling bills in the summer and prevent heat islands in southern states.

Rubber Shingles:

Recycled tires and similar materials are now being transformed into shingles that look – and protect – just like traditional asphalt shingles. These composite shingles are a better option than asphalt shingles, however, because they are better for the environment than typical fiberglass shingles due to their longevity and their recycled nature.

Cedar Shakes:

As a natural product, cedar shakes are an eco-friendly option for roofing material. There has been some concern over where the product came from, however; historically, cedar shakes were milled from old growth forests of cedar, but to better use the natural resources available to us, more eco-friendly methods have been put in place. Select thinning of trees in managed forests allow for thoughtful harvesting and future forward-thinking.

Living Roof:

Like Laura Ingalls Wilder and the house she famously described in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, a living roof is a roof made of living vegetation. Her 1875 version was twigs filled in with sod that grew in to a tough exterior. Modern versions, however, are different. Living roofs today require a protective, waterproofing membrane -- a rooting barrier that prevents plants from rooting directly onto your roof -- as well as soil and plants, usually native grasses and wildflowers. Some homeowners even elect to make the space accessible for vegetable gardening. A living roof is generally something that needs to be planned for in the design stages. It can be difficult to retrofit an existing shingle roof with a living roof due to weight restrictions.

When you are interested in building green with eco-friendly products, your roof should be one of your main concerns. From recycled products that are on their second or third 'life' to materials that are still living and breathing, the choices for green building materials is growing. Contact roofing contractors in your area to discuss your green roofing options.