An increasingly important consideration in construction, choosing the right roofing materials with sustainability in mind plays a crucial role in reducing environmental impact. Sustainable roofing materials contribute to energy efficiency, promote resource conservation, and minimise waste generation.
In this article, we’ll take you through eight sustainable roofing materials that are revolutionising the sustainability of the construction industry. From recycled roofing shingles to living roofing systems, each material offers unique features and benefits that provide various environmental and economic advantages.
What is a Green Roof?
You’ve probably heard of green roofs, but what are they and why are green roofs sustainable? Well, they are also known as living roofs or vegetated roofs, are they’re innovative roofing systems that support the growth of plants and vegetation atop buildings. They involve installing a layered system on top of a traditional roof, allowing for vegetation growth. The layers typically consist of a waterproofing membrane, root barrier, drainage layer, filter fabric, growing medium, and vegetation. From extensive to intensive systems, depending on the depth of the growing medium and the variety of plants supported, there is a range of sustainable green roofs to choose from.
Sustainable Roofing Materials
1. Recycled Roofing Shingles
Recycled roofing shingles are made from rubber, wood fibre or plastic and offer a sustainable alternative to traditional asphalt shingles. This eco-friendly roofing option is highly durable and long-lasting, providing excellent roof protection while decreasing the demand for virgin resources. Moreover, they have a high solar reflectance, effectively reducing heat absorption to keep you cool in summer without having the air-conditioner switched on constantly. While the initial cost of recycled roofing shingles may be higher than others, their energy-saving features and long lifespan may lead to cost savings over time.
2. Metal Roofing
Metal roofs are a sustainable roofing option due to their longevity, recyclability, and energy efficiency. They are often made from recycled materials and can be recycled again at the end of their exceptional 40-70 year lifespan. Metal roofs also provide excellent insulation and reflect solar heat, reducing energy consumption for cooling. Available in a wide range of colours, styles and finishes, metal roofs offer design flexibility and functionality in that they are resistant to pests, fire, and rot. While metal roofs can have a higher upfront cost than other roofing materials, their long lifespan and energy-saving benefits often offset the initial investment.
3. Clay and Concrete Tiles
Clay and concrete tiles are widely used thanks to their low maintenance, durability, and exceptional energy efficiency. Clay’s impressive thermal resistance keeps homes cooler in warmer weather and provide excellent natural insulation. Clay and concrete roof tiles are also non-combustible, meaning that they offer a high level of roof fire protection. Moreover, clay and concrete tiles can be repurposed or recycled after use, and their 50+ year lifespan makes them a cost-effective choice in the long run.
4. Slate Roofing
Slate roofing is a natural and long-lasting option for green roofs. Harvested from quarries, slate tiles are durable, fire-resistant, and recyclable. They offer a unique and elegant appearance while providing excellent insulation and weather protection, with a lifespan of 100+ years. Slate roofing is resistant to mould, mildew, and pests, reducing the need for frequent repairs or replacements. While it can be more expensive than other materials, the longevity and timeless beauty of slate roofing make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a sustainable and visually appealing roofing solution.
5. Wood Shakes and Shingles
Wood shakes and shingles are sustainable roofing materials derived from responsibly sourced wood. They are biodegradable, renewable, and provide a warm and charming appearance to any home. However, wood shakes and shingles require regular maintenance to prevent moisture damage, mould, and decay. Routine inspections and treatments can prolong their lifespan and maintain their integrity.
6. Solar Roofing
Solar roofing harnesses solar energy for electricity generation. This sustainable roofing option reduces dependency on non-renewable energy sources and helps offset electricity costs. Solar roofing is designed to seamlessly blend with the rest of the roof, maintaining an aesthetic and sleek look. Further, solar panels are designed to withstand various weather conditions, protecting the underlying roof and extending its lifespan. While the initial installation cost of solar roofing may be expensive, incentives, tax credits, and long-term energy savings can make it a financially viable and sustainable investment.
7. Green Roofing Systems
Also known as living or vegetated roofs, green roofing systems sustainably support vegetation growth while providing an attractive and unique appearance. They effectively enhance air quality, biodiversity and mitigate the heat island effect. Green roofs’ vegetation and substrate layers act as natural filters, reducing stormwater runoff and minimising the risk of flooding. While green roofing systems offer numerous environmental benefits, they require specialised design, installation, and maintenance to ensure proper plant growth and structural integrity.
8. Living Roofing Systems
Living roofing systems involve using pre-grown mats or modules, which contain a variety of plants and vegetation. These systems offer easy installation and provide instant vibrance and greenery, with similar benefits to green roofs requiring minimal maintenance. Moreover, living roofing systems also create a natural sound barrier, absorbing and reducing noise.
Those are the top eight sustainable roofing materials to use in 2023 — when eco-friendly building and renovation practices are more important than ever. Sustainable and green roofs are one of the best ways to contribute to an eco-friendly presence.
Still can’t decide which sustainable roof material is right for your home? Look no further than Vertec Roofing. Our team of roofing experts have the skills, knowledge, and practical experience needed to provide you with exceptional roofing advice and installation. Call us on (02) 8007 4366 today.