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Why Roof Tiles Are More Environmentally-Friendly Than Most Other Materials

Everybody is becoming very conscious of the effects that they have on the environment, and we are becoming increasingly concerned about the world that we are leaving for our children.  Legislation over the last decade has also put in place a variety of steps to be taken by businesses, in order to ensure that their carbon footprints remain as contained as possible.  Even the vehicle industry is now strongly regulated and emissions are strongly restricted.  Despite all of these measures, there is still a lot of damage caused every day, and we simply have to work harder to ensure that our environment is as clean and protected as possible. 

Environmental law has also entered the domain of the construction industry, and many architects, building contractors and business centre developers are now focusing on using materials that are more environmentally friendly and those that leave a smaller carbon footprint.  This focus also extends to roofing materials, and amongst the large variety of roofing materials, roof tiles are still considered some of the best and greenest roofing solutions around today.

In order to determine which building materials are the most environmentally friendly, we have to analyse the lifecycle of the material.  For instance, for the manufacturing process, we have to assess which materials are required and where they come from, and what their impact on the environment is.  When it comes to tiles, they are largely made from natural materials, such as clay, sand and limestone, and as these materials are generally abundant in the environment in natural form, they are not damaging to the environment.  If they are locally obtained, there is no need to transport them over vast distances, and this reduces carbon emissions.  When it comes to other roofing materials, such as asphalt, the concrete has a much lower carbon footprint.  During the raw material phase, asphalt requires oil and we know that refining oil is one of the processes that has an extremely high emission level.  In addition to this, shipping oil and transporting it over long distances also requires lots of energy and produces more emissions. 

Concrete tiles, however, are made from locally sourced natural materials.  When it comes to the lifespan of the material, asphalt tiles may indirectly cause more emissions, as they do not insulate very well and the buildings using this roofing material may need better temperature control systems.  Over the lifecycle, roof tiles generally have an opposite effect, as they are great insulators, and concrete tiles can actually absorb carbon dioxide emissions during the manufacturing process of the cement.

In 2008, a study was conducted that assessed the environmental impact of the manufacturing process of a few typically used roofing materials; clay, concrete and metal, and the use of energy and release of acid rain pollution was evaluated. It was found that metal used the most energy by far and also had the greatest volumes of acid rain pollution.  In addition, metal has a high greenhouse gas emission level as well.  Clay roof tiles and concrete tiles were found to be overall much more environmentally friendly as a result.  In addition to this, a study conducted by NAHB showed evidence that clay roof tiles were one of the roofing materials that lasted the longest – around 75 years, and in combination with a low manufacturing footprint, long-term energy efficiency and durability, they remain one of the greenest roofing options around.  Concrete roof tiles were not far behind in durability and environmental efficiency.  It was also found that both clay and concrete roof tiles were able to radiate more heat away from the building, which makes them more economical to use.

Other green advantages found with the use of concrete roof tiles is that these tiles can be used to effectively capture and reuse rainfall runoff, because the water collected by this roof would not be chemically tainted due to the natural products used for its manufacture. 

When it comes to the end of the lifecycle, the tiles that are removed have to go somewhere, and it is essential that they can be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way, or that they can be re-used or recycled for other uses.  Both clay and concrete tiles can be re-used for many different applications after their roofing lifecycle has come to an end, and even if they do end up buried in sand or in a water source, they will not cause pollution. 

The overall performance of roof tiles, regardless of whether they are concrete or clay, is therefore proven to be a greener option for roofing solutions, and they would be the preferred choice for many designers and creators of green buildings. 

For more information that will help you to make the greener choice when it comes to roofing materials, contact our team at Marley Roofing to find out more about how we can help your building be more environmentally friendly.