Eco-Friendly Roofing Cuts Your Utility Bills

From on April 25, 2011 in CalFinder News

Roof installation

As you may have heard, CalFinder’s all about saving you money. To that end, we’re happy to share a guest post from Herbert Norton of The focus? Better-insulating roof + eco-friendly materials = money in the bank. Take it away, Herb!

Greening Your Roof

Going green can do more than save the environment—it can save you money in the long run. So why not start at the top? Green roofing is a thriving industry and the options now vary from recyclable shingles to rooftop gardens.

Green roofs can add an aesthetic appeal to your home, maximize energy efficiency and save you the pains of high energy bills. Follow these tips to choose the best green roof for your home and environment.

What Should You Look for in a Green Roof?

Before delving into a new roofing project, there are several variables to consider in the search.

A green roof should be:

  • Dependable
  • A barrier against the elements
  • Highly insulating to cut your energy bills
  • Aesthetically appealing

Cool tile roof

The biggest consideration when choosing a green roof is environment. You’ll want a roof that performs best in your climate. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters and cold temperatures, look for a resilient roof that can hold up under snow, and probably a roof darker in color so that it will absorb heat rather than reflect it, keeping your heating bills low.

Aside from color choice, an important greening feature is roofing durability and life span. Replacing your roof every 10 years or so is a huge cost to you and to the environment, as it requires manufacturing more roofing materials regularly. Another way to green your roof (and to save a lot of shipping costs) is to buy locally. The farther the shipping distance, the worse the carbon emissions and the greater the environmental impact. With these basic guiding principles in mind, consider the different types of green roof.

Natural clay tiles roofing

Natural Clay Tiles

A tiled roof can be a great energy efficient option. Clay tiles are the greenest tile of them all. They are excellent energy-savers in warmer climates, since they are usually light in color to reflect the sun’s rays, and provide greater air circulation to naturally cool your home.

A drawback is that clay tiles are very heavy, so before you install them consult with an engineer to evaluate whether your home will need extra structural reinforcement. Fiber-cement composite tiles are made from recyclable materials but are very durable. Since these tiles aren’t as heavy as cement tile, they don’t require any extra structure reinforcement, and can be installed as is on your home. Check out some more recycled tile options here.

Slate clay tiles

Recycled Synthetic Shingles

This traditional roofing material can be a great green option. Although standard asphalt shingles are a cheap roofing option, they only last about 15 years, making them one of the least green roofing materials. An better option is recycled synthetic shingles, which are made from a mixture or plastic, rubber and wood waste.

The synthetic shingles are much lighter than asphalt and can last up to 50 years, three times the lifespan of asphalt. The synthetic shingles also come in a variety of styles, mimicking cedar shakes, slate or even clay tiles. The synthetic shingles are also comparable in shape and size to asphalt, so it is easy to replace asphalt with synthetic.

Green roof wild

Biodiverse Green Roofs

Rooftop gardens are gaining in popularity in cities, but they are also a fantastic green roof option for any suburban home. A green roof is a vegetated rooftop covering that insulates your home, while the vegetation helps absorb carbon dioxide.

Although commercial green roofs often sport trees, bushes, and irrigation systems, a green roof on your home only calls for 2-5 inches of soil to support small plants, grass and shrubs. The lower-scale green roofs don’t require much maintenance. Depending on your home, you may not need any extra structural reinforcement to support the green roof.

Herbert Norton is a roofing contractor that started a website on roofing in the winter months to help educate his clients. has extensive information on many different types of roofing shingles, such as slate, tile, solar and metal shingles, to help consumers make an educated decision. Recently Herbert has been researching the “greening” of asphalt shingles, which are not normally eco-friendly.

Photos via Flickr