A Few Cutting Edge Options for Environmentally Friendly Roofing

With the booming of the green building industry, never has there been a better time to find eco-friendly options for building or renovating your home.

Now that array of options includes your roof. In the past, a homeowner’s choices were limited. You could go with cheap, non-recyclable, petroleum intensive asphalt shingles. Or you could choose heavy and expensive slate or clay tiles, with special structural considerations their weight entails. You could opt for wood shakes, also expensive and high maintenance.

As more manufacturers get on board the green trend, more options for recycled and recyclable materials are becoming available. Here are just a few.

Roofing manufacturer Onduline produces Onduvilla, a roofing tile system made to resemble terra cotta tiles, but much lighter – 90 pounds per hundred square feet. These shingles are made with asphalt, but the amount of asphalt per shingle is offset by using recycled cellulose from paper.

This blend results in a durable roof covering that is warranted to 150 miles per hour, although video of wind tunnel testing shows it holding up to 210 miles per hour, when the wind machine reached its maximum speed.

These 42 by 16 inch tiles install quickly and cost about the same as regular asphalt shingles. Plus, they can be installed right over existing roofing, eliminating the need to tear out and dispose of old materials.

If the idea of recycling tires is more appealing, Euroshield is the choice. 95% of their roofing tiles are made of recycled rubber – 70% is rubber specifically from tires. An average roof covered with Euroshield uses from 600 to 1,000 tires.

Euroshield tiles are made to resemble several shakes or shingles in a row, and are molded for texture. They are available in a staggering array of textures and colors. While not as lightweight as Onduvilla, they still compare favorably at 240 to 340 pounds per 100 square feet, depending on style. That’s about the same weight as laminated asphalt.

They install quickly and easily. The top of each tile has a tab that locks into the bottom of the next row, helping secure the tile firmly along the wind-bearing edge. Each tile also has walled chambers on the underside, which helps with insulation and sound dampening.

Euroshield costs more than asphalt, but less than other roofing alternatives. This system requires much less maintenance than traditional roofing materials, so cost is saved over the lifespan of the roof.

If you require more design flexibility in a recycled shake or shingle, have a look at the Ecostar line.  These are 80% post-industrial recycled rubber and plastic. They are available in a wide range of colors, styles, and thicknesses, and some styles are available in custom colors, per your specification.  

Unlike Euroshield, Ecostar roofing comes in individual shakes or shingles, lending a more random and organic look to your roof. They are slightly lighter, at 200 to 300 pounds per hundred square feet, about the same as regular asphalt.

You get the same maintenance advantage as with Euroshield – reduced replacement, plus easier handling when modifying the roof, such as installing solar. While these shakes and shingles are more expensive than asphalt, they cost less than the alternatives.

These are just a few of the new choices available to you when building or replacing your roof. It pays to thoroughly investigate the options before making a decision. That perfect new eco-friendly roof is out there waiting for you.

A Guide to Solar Roof Tiles: The Next Big Thing

Over the last 20 years, solar power has become increasingly popular as a form of reliable renewable energy. And with the rise of new technology, innovations like solar roof tiles have made solar power even more affordable and accessible.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at some of the features of solar roof tiles — including their biggest benefits and drawbacks — and the top brands on the market today… Read More

Rocket Mass Heaters

Via YouTube channel MyLittleHomestead.com comes this video about building a rocket mass heater – a heating system that maximizes wood fuel by embedding that energy into a high mass structure, in this case, a cob bench. The exhaust is much cleaner than with conventional stoves, and one brief fire can heat a space for hours, even for longer than a full day.

And here is this review and update video made three years later:

The big secret to such complete combustion is the fire brick in the fire box. This brick reflects the heat of combustion back upon the fuel, causing it to burn much more completely than in fireplaces and other stoves. Heat in the riser pipe draws air horizontally through the fire box, making the fire burn sideways. No smoke at all comes up through the hole where you feed in the wood.

For a specially curated collection of resources about creating and using rocket mass stoves, create a free account at Walden Labs and then follow this link.

Earl’s Silo

Big thanks to Park City Television for this feature on a grain silo house.

Lately, I’m studying earth sheltered housing, so it’s a fun mental exercise to imagine this house buried in the desert, with appropriate accommodations for light and ventilation. What do you think?