What Are Some Environmentally-Friendly Roofing Options in Hawaii?

Your roof does a lot of work, like protecting your home from the outside elements and helping to reduce energy costs. Your roof also adds a layer of visual appeal to your house. If you're like most homeowners, you've never taken the importance of your roof for granted. But have you ever wondered about the environmental impact of your roof's materials?


As important as the function of your roof is, it could cause long-lasting damage to the environment through its manufacturing process or waste at the end of its life. The long-term negative impact it has can quickly outweigh the benefits it gives you. If that's a concern of yours, knowing the underlying materials of your roof is vital.


We share these concerns with you, and we want to share our knowledge of roofing materials with you. Below we've dug deep into popular roof types and their pros and cons. We think you'll see that there are plenty of environmentally friendly roofing options for your home.




1. Standing-Seam Metal Roofs


Metal roofs already have numerous advantages over more "traditional" options, including durability, heat resistance, and protection against fungi. But they're superior from an environmental perspective as well. Most metal roofs feature some percentage of recycled materials, and the roof itself can be recycled entirely at the end of its life.


Standing-seam metal tiles are shipped to the island coiled and are fabricated when they arrive. With this approach, manufacturers transport less material, saving fuel and other transportation costs. In addition, the fabrication process itself creates fewer emissions than typical roofing tiles.


Metal roofing products such as Great American Shake and GAF DecoTech offer other environmental protection, too. For example, they naturally reflect more heat, ultimately lowering what you pay in energy bills. Also, if you collect rainwater for gardening or home use, metal tiles won't cause contamination.


2. White Roof


We're pretty familiar with high temperatures in Hawaii. When those days hit, most of us have no choice but to turn to air conditioners for relief and accept the higher energy costs. But as temperatures continue to rise each year, is that the only solution?


One way to reduce your energy costs and consumption is by having a white roof. Also known as a cool roof, their color deflects a lot of the sun's heat, leaving your home's overall temperature lower. As a result, white roofs are incredibly valuable during the summertime.


However, simply adding a coat of white paint doesn't make the physical roof itself more eco-friendly. The materials underneath are still the heart of the matter. If you're still using tiles that are harmful to the environment, a white roof only addresses part of the problem. 


3. Rubber Tiles


A significant source of waste that doesn't get talked about as much is rubber. Its durability makes it challenging to break down efficiently, and even then, its manufacturing process uses harmful chemicals that can leech into the environment. However, the roofing industry has successfully repurposed certain types of rubber.


Rubber tiles last up to fifty years on average, so they may need replacing at some point during the life of your home. However, you can recycle them again once they start to break down. Much like metal, they're incredibly resistant to harsh weather conditions.


Unlike metal roofs, however, rubber tiles don't reflect heat. So while you're repurposing waste, you won't notice much of a change in your energy bills. If that's one of your primary concerns, rubber tiles may not be a good choice.


4. Tar and Gravel Roof


A tar and gravel roof is an excellent option for flat rooftops because it requires minimal manufacturing. It combines layers of hot tar with waterproofing and tops it off with gravel. The result is highly fire-resistant and offers excellent UV protection and heat reduction, all for a low price.


Because the topmost layer is gravel, the surface is safe to walk across. It's also low maintenance, and once installed, it can last several decades. Tar and gravel roofs have a faster install time than most traditional roofing options.


You're probably wondering how that weight will affect your home. A common issue with tar and gravel is that existing joints need reinforcing before installation. Additionally, locating the source of leaks and exposures in your roof is much more complex due to the gravel layer.


But is it environmentally friendly? You can always repurpose gravel, but you cannot recycle the underlying layers of material. Thus a consequence of this roof type is a large amount of waste product at the end of your roof's life.


5. Concrete Tiles


Concrete roof tiles have existed for hundreds of years. The modern roofing industry values them due to their simplicity (being made entirely of natural ingredients) and durability. These days we produce them in so many styles and colors that they often look like other types of tile.


Some manufacturers recycle broken or defective concrete tiles into new ones, which keeps them from entering landfills. When they can't be recycled into tiles, they can still find use in other construction projects. With concrete, manufacturing mistakes won't result in wasted products.


Concrete isn't without its problems, however. Their transportation costs are higher than other roofing tiles, given how heavy they are. So far, there isn't a practical solution to this problem.


Another issue is deterioration. Concrete tiles are strong (and get more durable as they age) but accrue visible wear. If you want to maintain a clean look, you could spend a lot of time fixing or replacing concrete tiles.


6. Clay Tiles


People have been using clay tiles for even longer than concrete. Since it's a naturally occurring material, the manufacturing process is short and straightforward. Though they are lighter than concrete, they're still quite durable. They also naturally lend themselves to different styles since they are easy to shape during production.


When it comes to the manufacturing process, every type of tile produces some damaging emissions. Mass-producing clay tiles make high levels of carbon and require a lot of energy. On the upside, they are easier to transport, especially when compared to concrete tiles.


The most significant environmental impact these tiles have is getting the clay itself. Though clay is abundant, the quarrying process can be destructive to the surrounding area and requires heavy machinery to complete. Quarrying can affect the air and water quality of surrounding areas, too.


7. Green Roofs


There is a small but growing movement for people in dense urban areas to grow plants on their rooftops. Miniature gardens made from climate-durable plants improve air quality by reducing pollution. Green roofs can also provide excellent insulation.


Green roofs aren't about having a specific style of tile. Instead, the underlying structure needs to support the weight of a garden, including a layer of soil. They also require small retaining walls to be built around the edges to prevent soil from sliding off.


Building a green roof varies from home to home, and it can be difficult to tell how much your roof can support. You also need to completely waterproof your roof before building. Despite this, the weight of a garden can still cause damage, which is difficult to repair with a garden on top.


Professional roofers will rarely build green roofs because there's no simple way to ensure the quality of such work. If you choose to create a green roof yourself, note that it requires more maintenance than any other kind of roof. The garden needs regular care to offer any benefit, and it can be a very time-consuming process.




Let Kapili Roofing & Painting Handle Your Roofing Needs


If you're looking for an eco-friendly roofing solution, it's hard to beat metal. Their low impact production and fabrications costs are beyond compare, and you'll love seeing how much less energy you use thanks to their insulation. But a roof is only as good as the people who make it.


Thankfully, Kapili Roofing & Painting has you covered.


We've provided the people of Hawaii with expert roof installation and inspection services for over 15 years. So whether you're building a new roof or maintaining the one you have, our team of experts can get the job done thoroughly and efficiently. Contact us today to learn more about our services.