For most homeowners, construction work is no longer just a question of good architectural design and reliable workmanship. There is a third aspect of sustainability that is increasingly gaining currency with many ethical-minded builders.
When it comes to sustainable building, you are likely to make the most impact on the roof of the house and that often boils down to the type of roofing material that you choose for your premises. Sustainable roofing materials should give you better energy efficiency and be environmentally-friendly. That means the process of roof fabrication itself should have been sustainable. The roofing material should also be long lasting: durability is an important factor in sustainability. Finally, the roofing should be affordable.
Fortunately, thanks to advances in engineering and manufacturing, builders have a wide spectrum to choose from when it comes to sustainable roofing options. Here is a look at some of the best green roofing options that will be right for both your architectural style and budget:-
The white roofing is sustainable because of its characteristics to light as opposed to its intrinsic structural and chemical properties. White roofing refers to any roofing fabricated from any kind of roofing material that is white in colour or is light-coloured.
Light colours generally have a cooling effect during the summers as they reflect more light. That means you do not have spend too much energy on cooling the house or an air conditioning costs and this cuts down on your energy bills during the summers.
However, due to its reflective property, white roofing may not be so advantageous during the winters as they will reflect more light and heat and increase your winter heating costs. Fortunately, in Australia, you will not grapple with seasonal temperature extremes so white roofing can be an all year sustainable roofing solution.
Depending on the material used in making the roofing, painting a roof white is not a 100% eco-friendly measure. If the roof is made from asphalt shingles, the fabrication is process will still be causing enough harm to the environment through the release of various greenhouse gases and the high amount of energy used in the fabrication process all of which put a strain on our planet.
Standing-Seam Metal Roof
Standing-seam metal roofing gives you the coveted combination of durability, good quality and sustainability. They not only have properties that help you cut down on heating and cooling costs but they are also affordable and fully recyclable.
To maximize on the energy efficiency of metal roofing, go for ones with a light colour and which have been fabricated using recycled metal. Metal roofing comes with generous warranty, typically in the region of 50 years. They are fireproof and can make for safe roofing in areas that are prone to bushfires. They can also act as a good fireproof buffer for serious fires that originate at home such as those caused by electrical faults. In places where it snows, metal roofing will facilitate the smooth sliding of the snow off the roof thus preventing ice dams from forming on the roof.
Shingle roofing is not only sustainable but also an affordable roofing option. This is true when it comes to the wood shingles. It would especially nice if the wood shakes have been harvested from sustainably grown forests where felled wood are replaced quickly and the wood also matures faster. They also give your roofing a beautiful classical look.
The main disadvantage with the sustainable wood shakes is that they are not fireproof so they can ignite easily and exacerbate small fires. The wood shingles are still relatively costly and do not last long. Their lifespan is just 15 to 25 years compared to that of metal or colorbond roofing which can last up to 50 years or more.
Slate Tile Roof
Clay and slate tiles have been used in roofing for generations. They are highly durable and have excellent thermal and acoustic properties. This kind of roofing is still one of the most desired by builders and homeowners but the cost can be prohibitive. They have classic curves and will add a nice aesthetic appeal to any home that they are used in. They can help bring out the classic look in historic homes. Their durability is incredible. Once installed, clay tiles can last for over 100 years. You may only need to make replacements when the tiles break but you do not have to worry about the overall disintegration with age.
However, these types of tiles are usually very expensive. The slate tiles are also very heavy and will get even heavier when they absorb some moisture so you will have to build an elaborate support structure when installing them which increases the cost of installation.
Are you literally looking for green roofing? You can try out the numerous green roofing systems that are currently popular with many Australian homeowners. Green roofing involves planting certain plants on top of an existing roof and this has plenty of advantages. Apart from creating an overall green and fresh landscape on top of the roofs, they add extra insulation to the home, cool the home and prevent stormwater runoff from the roof. The green plants planted on the roof also help in purifying the air.
When used in urban areas, they add a natural beauty to the townscape. The plants, if planted in large quantities over several buildings, will also help in mitigating the heat-island effect.
However, green roofing is not without its disadvantages. For one, they are quite costly to install on your roofing. The plants and supporting subsoil also represent extra roof weight so you will have to add some reinforcements on your roofing to ensure its structural integrity and this represents an additional installation cost.
You also have to factor in the mechanism for the upkeep of your green roofing which can be both complex and costly. Unless it rains on a regulation basis in your area, you may have to install an automatic irrigation system on your roofing that will keep the plants well supplied with water. Planting a green roof may also complicate structural repairs on the existing roofing beneath the plants and the soil on the roof.
Using Solar Panels as a “Roofing” Option
This is probably the most sustainable roofing option but it can be quite costly as you have to purchase multiple panels and install them over an existing roofing structure. Solar panels cannot serve as your primary roofing but they can reinforce existing roofing and provide you with loads of free clean energy for good.
The solar panels lend themselves to various roofing styles and they look really good thus adding to the aesthetic appeal of your home. Over the long run, the solar energy generated will save you thousands of dollars in energy bills not to forget that they are a sustainable and planet-friendly energy source.
At the end of the day, there isn’t a single one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to installing sustainable roofing for your premises. The eventual roofing that you choose must be a perfect match for your needs, architectural style, budget and preferences. However, the above options provide you with sustainable roofing solutions suited for every budget.