It’s every homeowners nightmare to wake up to the drip, drip, dripping of a leaky roof – especially with a rainy winter just around the corner. Eventually, every roof will require attention. Whether it’s a full replacement or a patch job, it’s a chance to invest in eco-friendly roofing options.
According to Bob Vila, asphalt shingles (the most common roofing material) can last up to 30 years. Eco-roofing technology has come a long way in the last few decades, making roof repair an opportunity to choose Earth-friendly products.
Non-shingle roofing options
Asphalt shingles combine petroleum-based asphalt, fiberglass, cementitious fillers and chemical coatings through industrial processes. Their production can be an environmental nightmare. Before you default to this option, consider these:
- Euroshield roofing products contain up to 95% recycled content, 70% of which comes from recycled tire rubber. Find an Euroshield installer here.
- Metal roofing is durable, reflective, and both recyclable and made from recycled materials, making it an Earth-friendly option.
- Cedar shakes and shingles provide a natural, Earth-friendly roofing option, as long as they are backed by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or another such certification.
- A living roof or green roof is the ultimate Earth-friendly house-topper, but comes with a good deal of maintenance. Seattle Tilth Alliance has more on that here.
- Solar shingles seem like the product of the future, which is reflected by their cost. They are installed like regular shingles, but have individual solar panels that produce between 13 and 63 watts each.
- Clay tiles are another natural option that are reusable and do not need to be painted or coated. They are a natural insulator which stand up to heat and weather. Find out more from Northwest Tile and Roofing.
Finding the eco-friendliest asphalt shingles
Asphalt shingles are by far the most common roofing option and often required by neighborhood HOA’s. These products aren’t made from environmentally-friendly materials, but gain some semblance of Earth-friendliness when made from recycled materials and deflecting solar rays.
Energy Star is a symbol for products that meet energy efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. In terms of roofing, Energy Star certifies products that reflect a certain amount of the sun’s rays, known as solar reflectance. This reflective property lowers surface temperature and decreases heat transfer to a building, thus decreasing the need for air conditioning and energy use. Below are the Energy Star standards for roofing materials:
- Low slope roofs: Initial solar reflectance greater or equal to .65. Three-year solar refleactance greater or equal to .50
- Steep sloop roofs: Initial solar reflectance greater or equal to .25. Three-year solar reflectance greater or equal to .15.
- Low slope applies to surfaces with a slope of 2:12 inches or less. Steep slope applies to surfaces with a slope greater to 2:12 inches.
Most residential roofs are steep slope. This ratio, known as pitch, can be calculated at home from the ground. After five minutes with a tape measure and a little math, I calculated my roof’s pitch at 6 inches of rise per 12 inches of run, or 6:12.
The Cool Roof Rating Council (CCRC) tests roofing materials for their radiative performance, but does not necessarily certify or approve them. However, CCRC has a handy catalog of tested products that makes finding shingles that meet Energy Star standards easier.
Manufacturers with CCRC tested asphalt shingles
The following manufacturers have asphalt shingles that have met the Energy Star requirements for solar reflectance, but may or may not carry the Energy Star logo. They’ve also shown some degree of commitment to using recycled materials and other sustainable practices.
Note: White-colored shingles are not included below, but often have a high solar reflectance and are therefore a good option.
Founded in 1904 as the General Roofing Manufacturing Company, CertainTeed has grown into a producer of asphalt shingles, vinyl siding and more. This manufacturer recycles nearly 90% of its roofing production waste into asphalt materials for road construction. It also recycles into its products more than 250,000 tons of slag, stone granules, corrugated mixed paper and sludge from landfills each year.
Based in Portland, Oregon and operating since 1956, Malarkey boasts sustainability certifications and recycled materials. Namely, it uses recycled polymers from car tires through CalRecycle, diverting spent tires from waste stream. Malarkey also reduced its natural gas consumption by more than 80% by installing a methane recovery pipeline from a nearby wastewater treatment facility in 1984. Find certified Malarkey contractors here.
Malarkey’s Windsor Ecoasis Scotchgard series has an initial solar reflectance as high as .29, depending on the color.
GAF claims its products protect more homes in North America than any other. The company sponsors a shingle recycling program and has an online transparency showroom that gives material health overviews for some of its products. GAF also has an ecoScorecard that lists the percentage of pre- and post-consumer recycled content of its products, along with the product’s environmental certifications.
Once your roof is in good shape, install solar panels on top to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels!