Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are by far the most common type of roofing material used for new homes in the U.S. There are several advantages to using asphalt shingles, but for those wanting an environmentally friendly roofing material, there may be greener alternatives.

Advantages of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles: The Environmental Drawbacks

Certainteed Carriage House Asphalt Shingles
CertainTeed Carriage House Asphalt Shingles

While asphalt shingles have many advantages to their use, they do have some negative qualities when looking at their environmental sustainability.

Certainteed Carriage House Asphalt Shingles
CertainTeed Centennial Slate Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles in a Green Home Design

Due to the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposing of asphalt shingle waste, they can hardly be described as 'green' and we recommend avoiding them. However, with their positive attributes (low cost, installation ease, relative durability, appearance) you may want to use them as a roofing material for your green home. These things are, after all, a matter of personal choice.

Asphalt shingles are a huge source of roofing waste when they reach the end of their life spans, so if you do use them, consider using a heavy-duty shingle with an extended life. Shingles are available with 30 year or greater warranties, which will reduce the number of times the roofing material will need to be replaced.

To avoid any possible health issues with high VOC shingle adhesives, seek out shingles using water-based adhesives instead of those using solvent-based adhesives.

Some asphalt shingle manufacturers are using recycled content in their asphalt shingles. There are shingles available that use 100% post-consumer recycled paper waste and/or some recycled asphalt material.

Asphalt shingles with some or all of these green aspects will probably cost a bit more up front, but the environmental benefits and longer durability will pay for themselves over time.

If building green is important to you, it's crucial to work with your contractor and home designer to formulate a plan and build a home that not only meets your personal criteria for a living space, but also reflects your desire to live in a home that minimizes its impact on the earths' finite resources.

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