Need to upgrade your roof? Whether you’ve got leaks or shingles in need of replacing, use this as an opportunity to go green with your roof. It will feel good to help the environment by using shingles made from recycled materials or planting trees and grass where you never thought trees and grass could be planted—but it will feel even better once you see your utility bills go down. Here are five eco-friendly options for your roof to get you started on renovating that old roof into something greener.

  1. Rooftop Garden

    Perhaps the greenest option is the vegetated roof, also called a “green” roof. A vegetated roof utilizes foliage, grasses, and even trees that are planted directly on the surface of the roof, providing a host of environmental benefits. These roofs can lower heating and cooling bills by insulating the rooms below. Roof plants like succulents and grasses can not only slow down the runoff from rain, but they can also filter the water. Keep in mind that these rooftop green spaces tend to work best on roofs with a slight slope for water drainage, and, since they’re fairly new and specialized, they can be somewhat expensive to install.

  2. Cool Roofs

    Cool roofs are new, high-tech roofs that use added reflective pigmentation to stop a majority of the sun’s heat from seeping into the house. A typical cool roof is white for maximum reflection, though other colors and shades are being introduced regularly. Newer models of cool roofs use the latest color technology, allowing the roof to adjust from light to dark colors as the seasons change. This increasingly popular eco-friendly roof option can save homeowners up to 15 percent of cooling costs in the summer, according to the EPA.

  3. Single Out These Shingles

    Just like soda bottles, toothbrushes, and almost anything else you could buy at the grocery store, shingles made from recycled products are now available. They’re just as durable as the old-school shingles, and they’re a great way to reduce landfill waste while also providing an excellent roofing solution. But what if you don’t want the traditional shingle look on your new, environmentally friendly roof? Don’t worry, because you’ve got a lot of other options at your disposal. Just one example is the rubber shingle roofing system—these shingles are made from recycled plastic that’s manufactured to look like interconnected, smooth, slate shingles.

  4. Not-So-Heavy Metal

    Metal roofs, like recycled shingles, are reformed and treated waste materials that can help keep your head dry and house cool. Metal roofs are an excellent green roofing option, since they’re very durable—sometimes lasting upwards of 40 years. And once it’s time for replacement, they’re recyclable. Metal roofs are commonly made from tin, galvanized steel, and aluminum.

  5. Harness the Power!

    This next idea is not a roof replacement, but it can still save you money on utility bills and help out Mother Nature. Many companies offer small, house-sized wind turbines and solar panels for roof installation, both of which can generate endless energy from the sun and wind.

From rooftop gardens to recyclable shingles, there are many options to make your roof the greenest spot on the block.

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Sources: Cool Roof Rating Council; Discovery News; Mother Earth News; This Old House.

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