Replacing Your Roof With a Greener Roof

By Carl Seville, Networx

Time to replace your roof?† Think about making decisions that will help out with energy, last longer, and be lighter on the planet. First and foremost, your roof has to keep the water out of your house.† When youíre reroofing, itís a good time to add some extra insulation in your attic.† If youíre installing roofing in Orlando or in another hot climate, you might consider a light-colored roof.† Consider installing a more sustainable material than regular old fiberglass shingles, and take a look at solar panels, either integrated with the shingles or installed separately to generate some power for your house.

In terms of staying dry, any quality roofing material will do the job as long as it is installed correctly, with all the right flashing and sealants. Donít rely on caulk to keep water out Ė everything must be properly lapped over the layer below to stay dry. Sidewall flashing must go under the felt paper or house wrap, chimney flashing must be counter flashed into the masonry, and where roofs stop at side walls, install kick-out flashing to keep everything dry.

If, like most people, you have a vented attic, make sure you have enough ventilation at the eaves as well as at the ridge or gable ends. If you donít have good eaves baffles to keep air from blowing through the attic insulation, have them installed, along with air sealing at the ceiling and adding loose fill fiberglass or cellulose on top of what is there.† If youíre really ambitious, you could have a roofing contractor spray foam insulation on the roofline and close up all the vents, making your attic a semi-conditioned space.

Light-colored roofing can help keep your attic cooler, but donít expect to see any big energy savings: they just arenít there, especially if you have a really good layer of insulation on the ceiling or you have insulated the roofline. Light roofs will help cut down on the urban heat island effect where dark roofs and paving absorb heat during the middle of the day, then release it at the end of the day as it cools off.† If everyone put on light-colored roofs, those hot summer nights might be a little cooler.

In terms of sustainable roofing materials, there are a lot of choices; unfortunately, most of them are more expensive than regular old fiberglass shingles.† Depending on the slope of the roof, the climate, and the thickness, fiberglass shingles last between 20 and 40 years (not too shabby) but if you consider that a good home should last a hundred years or more, why not think about a roof that lasts as long as the house?† I did a big renovation a while back on a 1918 house with an original clay tile roof.† We took off all the tiles, stacked them up, and reinstalled them, along with additional tiles that were reclaimed from another building.† Although it was an expensive roof to install, the tiles had already lasted over 90 years and will easily last another 100 or more, maybe never needing replacement.†† On top of their durability, they help to keep the house cool because there is an air space between the tiles and the roof. The broken ones were ground up and used for gravel under the driveway, keeping lots of waste out of the landfill.† Some other sustainable roof materials are slate, concrete tile, metal, and recycled rubber.

Finally, if youíre considering installing solar panels, and you live in a place where there are good incentives, when you reroof is the time to do it.† There are solar panels available that can be nailed into the roof right along with the shingles, like PowerHouse from Dow. If you are installing a metal roof, you can get solar panels integrated right into the roof sections.† Or, you can go with the old standby of regular panels that are attached to a rack system on the roof.

There are many opportunities to make your home more sustainable when replacing your roof.† Whether itís choosing energy-efficient or sustainable materials, including more insulation, adding solar power, or just making sure that everything is installed properly to keep the house dry, there is something at every price level to consider.


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Warren Webber
Warren Webberabout a year ago

Live long and prosper

Lynda H.
Lynda H.3 years ago

Michael C, your sarcasm makes you look so, so foolish.

I don’t give a rats’ what Americans spend. I’m not an American, and I can’t afford solar panels. I don’t have a car at the moment, because I can’t afford it. Haven’t been on a vacation for 20 years. I bought my 10 year old TV for $20 in a garage sale. My computer is also 2nd-hand, since you are doing an audit of my wastefulness.

MY military spends more than all countries combined? I doubt it! Nice ASSumption!

The rebates offered by MY country are only partial. One needs to spend $thousands up front and MAY get a couple of $hundred back - the amount lessens with every budget and change of government. I support any encouragement and rebate system, but I don’t have $thousands.

Why do you need to hurt and insult people?

Tom Sullivan
Tom C Sullivan3 years ago

Right on

Michael C.
Michael C.3 years ago

Lynda H, What you have come to describe as sarcasm is merely ones observation, Americans can always "find " the money to buy more car than they need, to go on vacation, which they put on their credit card, buy that big screen TV, only to be replaced with an ever larger one a year.

American spends $40 Billion USD per year on illicit drugs, $68.7 Billion on weight loss programs, $10.5 Billion on Cosmetics. Your military spends more than all countries combined.
Need I continue?

What we have, is a failure to communicate. That was a line from "Cool Hand Luke."

As for your remarks, "carrot and stick by the US government." The rebates are real, all types of buy-downs were available to YOU, but you were to busy...was it Opry, Dr, Phil.

Remember, our off-spring shall follow our example or in your case...the lack of it.

Good luck, sorry I interrupted your favorite show on your big screen TV.

Sandi C.
Sandi C.3 years ago

just did my roof good for 30 years. at my age it will outlive me!

Angie B.
Angela B.3 years ago

Thanks for the perspective. We've been talking about our roof lately.

Vidal S.
Vidal S.3 years ago

These are some things I have been thinking about. I would love to have more info about metal roofs or tiles for a home that now has asphalt shingles.

Angel Campbell
Angel Campbell3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

heather g.
heather g.3 years ago

Gosh, I can't believe thinking long-term takes place on this continent. In BC all I have seen is either roofing or siding having to be replaced after two years on new buildings, or on old buildings, they use the cheapest materials and then keep re-doing the work every few years.
I've always thought that cheap options are more expensive in the long run, especially considering the cost of labour.
Anyway, this article was heartening to read. I came from a country where clay tiles were common-place and houses were also solid and they last for a very long time.

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S.3 years ago

It's rarely green to replace something that doesn't need replacing. However if a roof does need replacing, then by all means try to choose a greener option!