Eco Construction:

Which Roofing Material is the Most Energy Efficient?


The need for sustainable solutions is an important trend in construction nowadays, and is also seen in the roofing sector. We need roofs that are durable, easy to install but also energy efficient. How can we do that? And which materials currently on the market are the best? Let's find out!

Is your roof energy efficient? If you have not thought about it yet, now is the time! Sustainability in the last decade has become an essential benchmark in choosing the best roofing material, just next to features like durability, reasonable pricing and ease of installation. Just from 2019 to 2020, searches for phrases like eco-friendly insulation or green roof system grew by almost 70%!

Customers and the whole construction industry are becoming more aware of their environmental impact. That is why today, let’s have a look at the most energy-efficient roof design and check which of them would be the best solution for the environment but also for your wallet!

What Features Should Eco-Friendly Roofs Have?

  • Lifespan - all types of roofing materials emphasize their durability, but did you know that it can vary from 15 to even 200 years? A longer lifespan means a lower impact on the environment, as replacing the old roof involves consuming materials, energy usage, and generating waste.

  • Function - this might be confusing at first. After all, what function except covering the building should a roof have? Actually, a good roof is not only the cover! It plays a significant role in the building’s air circulation, keeping warm temperatures in a cold climate and quickly releasing hot air in warm places. Thanks to these features, less energy needs to be used to heat or cool the building, saving you money!

We can summarise all of the above with one sentence: it all depends on what roofing material you chose. Some will be recyclable, some will better provide better air circulation, while others will have a longer lifespan. That is why, having all these aspects in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular roofing materials on the market!

Eco Roofing Materials and Energy Efficiency

  • 01

    Green Roof - A Living Roof
    Source: Even though it is not the most popular type, we should start with a living roof. After all, isn’t it the first image that you have in mind after hearing the term ‘eco roof’? This type is highly beneficial for the environment, especially in urban areas. Plants help to reduce heat and ensure continuous purification of the air. Such tops also have a psychological aspect as green colours can help in reducing stress.

    However, nothing can be ideal, right? This type has some flaws that must be considered. First of all, the whole construction is expensive and not easy to install. The bottom must be additionally protected to avoid any leaks or cracks created by growing flora. Also, such roofs require constant care like watering the plants or pruning them.

    Living roofs are for sure beneficial for the environment, but costs and maintenance needs might outweigh the positives in the end.

    • Cooling system for the buildings
    • Air purification
    • Sociological aspect (green colours in cities)
    • Cost of the installation
    • High maintenance needs
  • 02

    Asphalt Shingle Roofing
    Source:! Asphalt is one of the most popular roofing materials on the market, especially in the US. However, before you choose it, pay attention to what kind of asphalt shingle you use! In the market, there is a critical distinction. The more environmentally-friendly type of asphalt is created using special granules that can absorb heat. The change in material formation is minimal, but it can result in a massive difference in temperature inside the building.

    Another important aspect is the lifespan of asphalt: from 10 to 15 years. Such short durability is not a big flaw as asphalt is one of the cheapest materials on the market, and its replacement is not costly. However, if considering the environmental aspect, every change generates a carbon footprint.

    • Low maintenance needs
    • Low cost
    • Easy installation
    • Short lifespan
    • Can be harmful to the environment (depending on the type)
    • Poorly supports air circulation
  • 03

    Metal Roofing
    Source: Metal is next to asphalt as one of the most popular roofing materials. It can be formed in a series of metal panels or shingles, both easy to install. Customers choose this material for many reasons. Firstly, it is energy-efficient. In contrast to asphalt shingles, a metal roof can perform a function as a natural insulator. It also provides excellent resistance to wind and bad weather or fire, and its lifespan can vary from 50 to 60 years, depending on climate.

    Compared to asphalt, it is more expensive, and in case of damages, it is harder to replace only part of the roof. However, it is usually 100% recyclable or even made from recycled materials, so its replacement does not harm the environment intensely.

    • Recyclable (often also made from recycled materials)
    • Long lifespan
    • Energy efficient (acts like a natural insulator)
    • In case of any damages, it is harder to replace only part of the roof
  • 04

    Tile Roofing
    Source: Another solution is tiles that are often made from different materials like slate, clay or concrete. Tile roofing is head and shoulders above the rest of the materials when it comes to air circulation. Air can flow between tiles, so hot air in warm climates can be quickly moved away. It is also beneficial in colder places as tiles can easily prevent warm air from escaping.

    Another huge advantage is that tiles are durable, perform well in any condition like fire, stormy weather or strong winds. Their lifespan is the longest among all those listed in this article’s materials and may even reach 200 years. However, such durability, energy efficiency and long life have their price. Clay tiles are nowadays one of the most expensive roofing materials and not affordable for all customers.

    • Very long lifespan
    • Very durable
    • Energy efficient
    • Expensive
  • 05

    Wood Roofing
    Source: Last, but not least among our roofing materials is wood, from 100% natural resources and completely recyclable. Its durability is estimated to be around 60 years, but its lifespan drops drastically to 20 years in wet climates. Also, it can be a bad choice for areas at risk of fires. When it comes to energy efficiency, wood is a natural insulator, which means that it keeps warm air inside a building in cold weather and reflects the light preventing heat from coming into the building.

    Wood roofing continues to gain in popularity as its design looks classic, elegant and luxurious. Simultaneously, it is not a cheap solution, and regarding its durability and lifespan, it remains a solution for wealthy customers in dry climates.

    • Natural material
    • Energy efficient
    • Luxury design
    • Not good for every climate
    • Expensive to install
    • Short lifespan

Future of Roofing Materials

As you can see, there are no right or wrong solutions. However, before choosing roofing material, you should take into consideration a few aspects: your budget, climate, type of building (its functions and design) and, of course, its environmental impact. Think in the long term as these solutions might turn out to be the most optimal option for your wallet and the planet!

Whether we like it or not, change is already happening. The UK’s government legislated a net-zero target for carbon emissions by 2050, which means more substantial shifts towards green building will be motivated by customer demand and also government policies. However, this change does not have to mean losses for your company. After all, an energy-efficient roof that provides good air circulation means less energy usage and saves you money! If you want to learn more about the roofing sector and its challenges, subscribe to our blog and follow our updates!

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2024-05-18 10:06:43