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What Is Sustainable Roofing? + Types, Materials, & Tips

Updated July 10, 2021
Ryan Hanson
Ryan Hanson

Designing and building a new home is often stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s where Ryan comes in, who is the Partner and Co-owner of S9. Ryan manges the day-to-day operations of the build, and ensures that our clients are satisfied through regular updates and budget reviews. At S9, the client always comes first and Ryan makes sure that they are involved in the building process and aware of how the project is going at all times.

At Sustainable 9, we consider ourselves one of the top sustainable home builders in all of Minnesota. The competition is steep, but we’re not here to compete against other homebuilders. Our #1 goal is to build homes that last for hundreds of years and provide our clients with safe and sustainable housing.

One element that has a lot to do with the sustainability of a home is the roof. There are quite a few different elements that a roof can be made of and several factors that play a role in creating a truly “sustainable” roof.

Sustainable Roofing is the Future of Roofing

If you don’t already know, then you might have been wondering what sustainable roofing is? That question isn’t easily answered because of all that goes into sustainability practices. But, sustainable roofing does promote the use of sustainable materials and the production of clean energy. Some sustainable roofs are painted white to reflect the sun, have gardens to promote insulation and environmental friendliness or have solar panels to help produce clean energy. Some roofs are even designed to capture all of the rainwater.

With all of the different ways to design a green or sustainable roof, how can you know what material or type of roof to use on your home? If you have questions about what might be right for your home, then we’re here to help.

Types of Sustainable Roofs

When it comes to green roofs and the materials they’re made out of, most of these materials can work together. And, if you have a larger home, you likely have multiple sections of roof that each have a slightly different approach to maintaining sustainability and promoting an eco-friendly home for you and your family.

Living Roof

Wooden house with extensive green roof covered with vegetation

A living roof or green roof consists of soil and vegetation that grows on your roof. Europeans have been incorporating these roofs on their homes for many years, and the practice of having living vegetation on a roof dates back even further. But, in the United States, the practice is not quite as common. Nonetheless, the benefits are worth the effort to build a green roof on your home.

There are a few types of green roofs, and the type that you choose is ultimately determined by how much energy and time you’ll put into the roof after it’s up. The three types are intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive. Each of these types are different in the amount of time and effort that goes into maintaining the roof. For more on living roofs, be sure to check out this blog.

Solar RoofMinnesota solar companies

Installing solar panels on your home can do a lot of good for both your home and your electricity bill. As you probably know, solar panels can be installed on your roof or in your yard and can help to reduce your electricity bill by up to $85 dollars a month. (estimated with current energy cost as of 2020)

The cost to install solar panels on a home is often around $15,000 and will take most homeowners around 15 years to pay off. But, after the solar panels are paid off, they’ll continue to produce electricity for your home. In fact, most panels will maintain 80% efficiency for the first 30 years of their life. Solar roofs are a green and sustainable way to lower your carbon footprint.

Painted Roof

Some are saying that painted roofs or white roofs are actually the future of fighting climate change. As you might have noticed, a lot of things on the surface of the “human-made” earth are black. Streets, roofs, and sometimes even buildings are black or a dark color. While this all does look aesthetically pleasing, it has been proven to really hurt our planet. In fact, the city of Los Angeles took the time to paint some of their city streets white. Their research showed that painting the streets white reduced the temperature of the roadway by 10 degrees.

Using white roofing material can also help to combat climate change and provide a cooler home. The white color deflects the sun’s rays, whereas black or dark colors will absorb the sun’s heat.

Sustainable Roofing Materials

The materials below aren’t the only sustainable roofing materials, but they’re some of the most common. Homeowners have choices and options for how these roofs can be installed and the style that they come in.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing on a large two story home.

One of the fastest rising roofing materials is metal roofing. Several advances have been made in the metal roofing world over the last few years, and homeowners have been taking advantage of them. Metal roofing is made of sustainable and recyclable materials ensuring that you’re able to have a roof that lasts for 50+ years and can be recycled at the end of its life.

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Metal roofing also comes in a variety of styles and colors, giving you the ability to customize the curb appeal of your home.

Slate Roofing

Slate roofing has been used on homes for hundreds of years. It’s considered a sustainable product because slate is mined from rocks, and it’s an entirely natural material. Slate roofing has its downsides as it’s very heavy and quite expensive to install. But, slate roofing can last for more than 100 years.

A roof that lasts 100+ years is almost unachievable without spending a good chunk. But, not having to replace your roof for your life and the life of your home is a huge benefit.

Clay Tile Roofing

Clay tile is another natural element that’s used for roofing. Clay tiles are common in southern climates because they more easily match the aesthetic of the landscape, and they hold up well in the heat. Because clay is a natural material, it can be considered sustainable roofing. And, tile roofing can last 50-100 years depending on the climate conditions and the type that’s installed.

The benefits of choosing a sustainable roof can often far outweigh all of the costs and challenges associated with installing and procuring them. We always encourage homeowners to consider sustainable roofing materials when re-roofing or building their homes. In fact, many of the homes we build use sustainable materials. Check out some of our projects on our website and visit our blog for more sustainable home-building resources.

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Ryan Hanson
Ryan Hanson

Designing and building a new home is often stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s where Ryan comes in, who is the Partner and Co-owner of S9. Ryan manges the day-to-day operations of the build, and ensures that our clients are satisfied through regular updates and budget reviews. At S9, the client always comes first and Ryan makes sure that they are involved in the building process and aware of how the project is going at all times.

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