By Paul Kazlov
As consumers become more educated about the need for sustainable living, many homeowners and homebuyers are prioritizing eco-friendly living in their home purchases and renovations. To meet the public outcry for conservation, recyclability and sustainability, those in the home improvement and construction industries are seeking solid alternatives that will adhere to even the most rigorous standards of eco-friendliness and sustainable living. Of the various home improvement green solutions, metal roofing is definitely one that is gaining great popularity even among the most skeptical homeowners and buyers.
The rise of metal roofing
Made of various metal materials — such as tin, aluminum, copper, and galvanized steel — metal roofs are known to withstand some of Mother Nature’s most wicked rages. Be it heavy rainstorms, hailstorms or snow, metal roofs will keep homeowners safe and away from the elements. In addition to being fire-resistant and impervious to the most unforgiving weathers and troublesome pests, metal roofs are also an environmentally friendly roofing solution for their superior energy-saving features, unmatched longevity and high recyclability.
Considered a ‘cool’ roof, metal roofs are an energy efficient roofing solution that will save homeowners up to 40 percent in their energy expenditure. Using a solar spectrum reflectometer and an emission meter to conduct a three-year study on the energy efficiency and service life of metal roofing systems, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Buildings Technology Center found that the high solar reflectivity and emissivity levels of cool metal roofing can greatly mitigate urban heat island effects. Moreover, while white coatings on other roofing materials displayed a 25 to 40 percent drop in their initial reflectance, the metal roof tested retained most of its initial solar reflectance during the study. In fact, researchers found that pre-painted metal was able to keep almost 95 percent of its reflexivity.
Another study showed that an unpainted metal roof demonstrates a very high solar reflectance level that usually exceeds the minimum federal Energy Star requirement of 60 percent. Depending on the color of a painted metal roof, the reflectance range can go anywhere from 10 percent to 75 percent, which is definitely better than the 5 percent to 25 percent range of an asphalt roof. As a recent case study on the trend of cool metal roofing in North America points out, dark colors can absorb significantly more solar radiation than light ones. Therefore, switching to a white or light-colored metal roof will not only reduce energy spending by 20 percent, but also make your home 50 to 60 degrees cooler than a conventional dark-colored roof.
Metal roofs outperform other roofing materials in longevity and durability. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance in Belfair, the typical service life of a metal roof is two to three times longer than that of asphalt shingles. As Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) research finds, metal roofs have a significantly longer expected service life than all other roofing materials.
Metal roofs are also malleable and can be pressed and shaped without suffering any break or crack. Lasting considerably longer than the average 15 to 23 year service life of asphalt shingles, a metal roof can last up to 60 years and beyond. Combined with its minimal upkeep, it is no wonder that homeowners love metal roofs for their generous financial savings in roofing repair and replacement.
Finally, the unmatched recyclability of metal roofs makes them a favorite of many “green” enthusiasts. According to research conducted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), metal roofing is one of the most eco-friendly roofing solution from a waste-reduction standpoint.
Many metal roofs contain up to 40 percent recycled steels, while the content of metal roofs in itself is 100 percent recyclable. As a result of its high recyclability and reusability, metal roof materials rarely become waste in a landfill. When compared to Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) estimation of 11 million tons of asphalt shingles ending up in landfills, it is clear why those in the government agency and home improvement industry are calling metal roofing an eco-friendly solution for every homeowner.
Public interest in green homes
Metal roofing, as a recognized green home product, is a cost-saving and energy efficient investment. As Home Guides.com reports, metal roofs are commonly known for improving home value by 1 to 6 percent.
The trend for going green is not slowing down anytime soon. In fact, research done by various groups has unanimously found a growing interest in eco-friendliness and sustainable living among both homeowners and buyers. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, an overwhelming number of homebuyers are making energy efficient appliances, lighting and other home accessories the top priorities in their home purchases. Of the surveyed homebuyers, 94 percent are looking for Energy Star rated appliances, while more than 90 percent explicitly declared their desire to have an Energy Star rating for the whole home.
In a different survey, the National Association of Home Builders also found that 94 percent of existing ‘green homeowners’ would recommend a green home to a friend. As the public moves forward to a more sustainable lifestyle, we are expecting to experience a rise in metal roofs among both commercial and residential buildings.
Image credit: iscatel, Fotolia
Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov