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Green Building From Top to Bottom: Eco-Conscious Roofing

I've brought to you green options for floors, walls, ceilings, and heating systems, and so I thought it apropos to go out on top - with roofing, that is.  According to eHow.com, conventional roofs are impervious structures that create a surprisingly high negative impact on our environment, especially in conjunction with other such structures like paved roads and parking lots.  These surfaces don't allow rainwater absorption to naturally take place by the earth; rather, the water remains on those surfaces and gets drained into sewer systems.  The water then travels to rivers, lakes, and nearby bodies of water.  This process contaminates those resources as the runoff collects oil, solvents, litter, and other pollutants along the way.  So what are the alternatives?

Green Roofs

A Truly "Green" RoofA Truly "Green" Roof

Green roofs are the latest in eco-conscious roofing technology.  As previously mentioned, conventional roofing doesn't absorb heat or water, but green roofs take care of both.  Generally used in urban areas that have limited space for heat and water absorption, green roofs, aka "rooftop gardens," are planted on existing roof structure.  According to AmericanCity.org, they help reduce indoor temperatures, filter pollution, lessen pressure on sewer systems, and reduce the "heat island effect," a phenomenon that occurs in metropolitan areas causing them to be much warmer than surrounding areas.  So how can you get a green roof?  Hydrotech is one company among many that offer green roofs, but Hydrotech is the only one that brings you the "Garden Roof," which promises to transform "virtually any flat or sloped roof into a landscape environment."  Depending on the need, Hydrotech offers several options: The Extensive Garden Roof is ideally suited for locations that will receive little or no maintenance; Sloped Applications are for traditional roofs that most other green roof retailers cannot accommodate; the Shallow-Intensive (Lawn) Garden Roof is still considered lightweight but has a slightly deeper soil depth to support sod lawns and perennials; and the Intensive Garden Roof incorporates plants that require regular maintenance, thus offering a more impressive aesthetic.  While these options are highly innovative and the green roof is a growing trend, you may be looking for a more traditional alternative that is still green.

EcoStar Majestic Roof

EcoStar Majestic RoofEcoStar Majestic Roof

Incorporating the natural beauty of slate, the EcoStar Majestic Slate Tiles also promise enhanced durability and strength.  Green attributes include recycled content, no quarrying, material diverted from landfills, and recyclable materials through a manufacturer take-back program.  What's more, these tiles are rather long-lasting - a 50-year warranty promises that use of these tiles will cut down on waste as well as cost.  "Slate-of-the-art" formulation uses 80% post-industrial recycled polymers.  These slate tiles come in a variety of colors and sizes, but perhaps you want a more rustic look.

FSC-Certified Cedar Shingles

Rustic, FSC-Certified Cedar ShinglesRustic, FSC-Certified Cedar Shingles

Another green option is FSC-Certified Cedar Shingles.  While cedar shingles are nothing new, the FSC certification is a very important innovation if you want to be sure you're participating in a truly green, ethical purchase.  The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is considered the largest and most effective third-party certification program which guarantees responsibly harvested forest products.  Criteria for FSC certification include 57 stipulations regarding legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts surrounding forest management.

While green roofing options conclude my week-long segment on green building, I intend to present more options as they arise.  After all, going green starts at home.

Sources: The Green Depot and Hydrotech and AmericanCity.org and eHow

Amanda Hinski
Environmental Innovations Blogger
InventorSpot.com