Sustainable Roof Replacement Options


Since they get the brunt of the sun, snow and rain, roofs will need to be changed after a number of years. While there are plenty of materials out there for a new roof, most of them are not sustainable. However, since the green and sustainable movement has increased in popularity, there have been a number of sustainable options popping up. Some use normal materials, like shingles, while others use unconventional materials like vines and roots.


Almost everyone is used to shingle roofs. Shingles are among the most common roofing material because they are affordable, and they last about 20 years before they need to be replaced. However, shingles are rarely sustainable in their normal form.

The best and easiest way to have a sustainable roof with shingles is to get partially or completely recycled shingles. Since they are made from post-consumer products, these shingles are not using any or much new resources. This taxes the planet much less, and it makes the roof much greener.

Vegetated Roofs

Vegetated roofs are very rare because they are difficult to install. They are expensive, take time to grow, usually require more roof support because they are heavy and they can only be installed on low sloping roofs.

If you don’t mind all that, then a vegetated roof is a great option. This type of roofing is as organic as organic can get. Soil is placed on the roof, and plants grow to form a protective layer. The soil and plants will absorb any water, and the plants use the sunlight to grow even more.

Also, unless the plants are damaged, the roof will continue to grow and replenish itself. This is a much better option than having to constantly replace the roof every few years.

Metal Roof

A metal roof may not seem very sustainable, but it is actually a great choice. It is fairly easy to find recycled metal roofing materials, so much like the shingles, there will not be a need for many new resources. Also, the metal roof can be later recycled when you need to change it.

Metal roofs also last at least 40 years. Sometimes they even last 60 years. Since they last longer, you will not need to use new materials to replace the roof for a long time. Metal can also insulate the house, which usually requires less energy consumption. Some people even say that they use up to 10 percent less energy in the year.

Slate and Tile

Both of these are similar, except slate is from rock and tile is from clay. The longevity of these materials largely outlast metal. If they are properly taken care of, then you can expect slate and tile to last for centuries.

Also, there are relatively few resources used. While you cannot really get recycled slate or tile, they are both made from sustainable sources. Less energy is needed to cut slate or form clay into tiles, so that is another thing that makes this a sustainable roof solution.

Wood Shakes

Wood shakes, which are similar to tiles in shape, can be a sustainable choice. It is easy to find places that sustainable harvest wood, and the shakes do not require many resources. However, it may be a good idea to stay away from wood shakes.

While the materials are sustainable, there are few problems with wood shakes. For one, they are flammable. They also do not last as long as other materials, and the sun can damage them. However, if you don’t mind all that, then wood shakes are sustainable and they will give your house a very pleasing aesthetic.


There are many sustainable roofing options out there. You should often look for recycled options, as they use fewer materials, but there are other considerations you need to make. Think about how long the material will last, if it can be recycled when you need to change the roof again and how much energy is needed to form the material. Once you know all that, then choosing a sustainable roofing option should be simple. Sustainable roofs are better for the environment, and you don’t need to skimp on quality to get them.

Article by Tom Demers, appearing courtesy 2GreenEnergy.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.


  1. sheckyvegas on

    I retro-fitted my neighbor’s house with thatch roofing, to give it that “Old England” look.

    Unfortunately, he wasn’t home at the time and took offense at my attempt to liven up the look of his Spanish Colonial.

    Some people are so ungrateful…

  2. With the countless options available it sometimes become difficult to opt and install a rooftop. Thanks to your guide, I am sure people in need will benefit.