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Eco-Friendly Advantages of Metal Roofing

metal roofing is eco-friendly

Although metal roofing has been around for hundreds of years, the concept has only recently gained traction among folks who care about humanity's impact on the environment. In addition to its obvious financial and practical benefits, metal roofing has a number of attributes that conspire to make it a particularly eco-friendly construction material. Before you decide to replace your aging conventional roof with another toxic, wear-prone mass of shingles, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the environmental advantages of metal roofs.

Disaster-Proof Material

For starters, metal roofing is significantly more durable than other roofing materials. It's less likely to go missing or become mangled in the face of high winds, and it's not as prone to water damage and other gradual environmental stresses. In fact, metal roofing is rated to last years longer than most other commonly used roofing materials. This longevity is very important--since metal roofing doesn't need to be replaced or repaired as frequently as shingle or tile, its manufacturers require fewer raw material inputs than its competitors in other sectors of the roofing industry. In turn, this reduces the overall environmental impact of metal roofing.

Recycling and Reduced Waste

When a shingle or tile roof becomes obsolete, the bulk of its material ends up in the nation’s landfills. Since this material is derived from petroleum or inorganic rock, it takes centuries to break down. In the meantime, it clogs landfills and reduces the amount of space available for material that's actually biodegradable.

By contrast, the vast majority of the materials in a typical metal roof can be recycled or reused. Many metal roofs that outlive their usefulness enjoy "second acts" as car parts, structural siding or industrial components. Some are even reborn as new roofs. In the aggregate, this highly efficient recycling operation reduces the need to mine new metal and minimizes the environmental problems that accompany such invasive extraction activities.

Runoff Recovery

Most roofs are designed to slough off water and reduce the frequency of potentially damaging pooling and "ponding" events. However, most conventional roofs don't produce clean runoff. Instead, the volatile organic materials of regular shingle or tile roofs slowly leach into rainwater and may contaminate the groundwater supply for miles around. In densely-populated residential areas, such pollution is a major environmental concern.

Since metal roofs don't contain compounds that can easily leach into the water supply, they're important sources of clean runoff in arid and semi-arid areas. Even if you don't use a rooftop reservoir to catch and reuse rainwater, you can count on your metal roof to do its part to maintain the purity of the groundwater or municipal water supplies that you use.

Bending the Energy Cost Curve

Metal roofs tend to confer a more indirect environmental advantage: Thanks to their reflective power, they keep interior spaces surprisingly cool on hot summer days. Metal roofs that sit on top of traditional roof materials act as insulation during the winter as well. By reducing year-round heating and cooling costs, cost-effective metal roofs indirectly reduce their users' carbon footprints.

These aren't the only tangible benefits of metal roofing material. All in all, the eco-friendly advantages of metal roofs run the gamut from runoff purification to landfill waste reduction. If you're in the market for a new roof, you can do your part to look after the environment by choosing metal over more traditional materials.



Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel. Whirlwind Steel Buildings is a leading provider of institutional steel buildings. They specialize in metal buildings for schools, hospitals, churches and more.  

*Image Courtesy of Flickr