Can My Roof Be Eco-Friendly?

There is quite a lot of difference between the terms eco-friendly and green, when it comes to roofing. When you see the term green building materials, what do you think of?

Eco-Friendly or Green Roofing Materials – What’s the Difference?

  1. Recycled metal
  2. Adobe bricks
  3. Reclaimed lumber
  4. Recycled glass
  5. Slate

Those items are a good start. Things get a bit more complicated when it comes to roofs.


What is a Green Roof?

When someone says they want a green roof, do they mean a roof built with eco-friendly materials or a green living roof? Let’s explore the difference.

A green living roof is just what the words imply. The roof is designed to have plant life growing on it.

Naturally, if you want to grow plants of any kind on your roof, whether it is something simple or more complicated like growing a floral garden, or your own vegetables, you’ll need to start with a reliable, waterproofing layer. Then, a root barrier goes on, to keep the root system from breaking through and damaging the waterproofing layer below.  A drainage system is next and then, a medium for the plants to grow on.

Remember, all roofs need an excellent waterproofing membrane, no matter what the roof is covered in. No evidence suggests that a green/living roof has any greater susceptibility to leaks than other roofing materials. Some studies indicate a living roof may even last longer because vegetation provides a natural barrier.

Other Eco-Friendly Choices

If you aren’t quite ready for the look of ground cover, or a vegetable garden on your roof, you may want to learn more about eco-friendly materials.

Last month, our post examined the importance of roof thickness and various roofing materials, including Duro-Last, a commercial roofing material. Their product information points out that Duro-Last is considered a sustainable roofing product that is third-party verified, high performing and durable. It is also what is known as a cool roof with its white reflective surface.

Other eco-friendly roofing materials include:

  • Standing seam metal roofs that are long-lasting (possibly 50 years) and if you choose one that is light in color, it can also be of dual purpose, keeping your home dry, while keeping it cool.
  • Shingles – when the shingles are made from a combination of recycled materials like wood fiber, plastics and rubber.
  • Rubber roofing shingles made from recycled tires, coated with ground slate, offer another long-lasting alternative.
  • Reclaimed slate or tile.
  • Corrugated metal roofing.

If you are wondering what the difference is between corrugated metal roofing and standing seam, here is a simple explanation. Corrugated means a surface with alternating grooves and ridges.

So, a corrugated roof is one with interlocking sheets of rippled metal, while a standing seam metal roof is made of metal panels that interlock and span the ridge of a roof out to the eave. Standing seam materials are usually constructed of heavier grade steel, making them more durable.


Another important difference is the way these two metal roofs are fastened. Corrugated roofs don’t allow for flashed brackets. This means that although both corrugated and standing seam metal roofs can last up to 50 years, the fastening system on a corrugated roof can come loose in as little as 10 to 15 years and require greater maintenance. They may also be more prone to leaks than standing seam metal.

Cost, style and roof slope will impact your decision on roofing materials. Depending on where your home or commercial property is located in Marin, Sonoma or Napa Counties, you’ll also want to take into consideration the various micro-climates that range from sunny and dry to moist and coastal.

If you are in need of a roof replacement, one more way to be kind to the planet is to recycle as much of the old roofing material as possible, right down to gathering the old roofing nails.

If you’d like to talk with a roofing professional about the eco-friendly products available, contact us today.