Go Green from the Top Down
Sustainable building materials are becoming a new standard for some home builders and re-modelers. Different products are viable for different climates, and in the Pacific Northwest, considerations have to be made regarding humidity and temperature. When it comes to your roof, the following are three popular options.
Common both in the valleys and at the coast, cedar, redwood and cypress have been employed for many years. Some considerations: is the wood coming from a select harvest, or better yet, salvaged? Is the material free of potentially toxic preservatives? Try to get information on how long the product is expected to last and under what conditions. Remember that a set of leafless gutters will help to prevent pooling that can shorten the life of shingles.
Who does not love the sound of rain falling on metal? Beyond that soothing tap-tap-tap, steel or other metal alloys are a great option for their durability and resistance to moss growth. Some products already come with post-consumer materials built in. Solid warranties also make metal an attractive option. Paired with a good set of roof gutters, even 5 inches of rain in a day would not do any harm.
Go to Europe and you will see stonework that is been in place for hundreds of years. Definitely a premium option, slate is a natural winner at protecting your home from rain and snow. Salvaged options are even better, as you will give that quarried material a second life.
One of the tenants of sustainability is to avoid unnecessary energy-intensive manufacturing processes wherever possible. Therefore, if your roof is already in good shape, the greenest option may be not to replace it at all. A good maintenance program and set of leafless gutters may be all you need to prevent decay and prolong its life. If in the end you do decide to opt for a new roof, check with your contractor about recycling your old one.