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Tips for Sourcing an Earth-Friendly Roofing Material

Roof of House in Slate Tiles
So many eco-friendly roofing options are on the market today, from recycled materials to reflective options, that you may have a hard time comparing all the different features of all the different types of roofing. And while you should focus on how eco-friendly your roofing material will be when it's on your home, you also need to consider other aspects of your roof's eco-friendliness.
Once you have a short list of your favorite types of roofing, you'll want to think about how each one is sourced and manufactured and the ecological impact that these factors have. Here are some tips for choosing a roofing material that causes the least environmental damage before reaching your home.
1. Look for Reclaimed Materials
If you're open to sourcing materials secondhand, reclaimed roofing materials could be one of the most ecofriendly sources. Some companies collect and inspect pre-owned roof slates and tiles, checking them for quality and usability before selling them to be used for a new roof.
This method has pros and cons. For example, on the plus side, you're giving roofing materials a second life and getting a great, weathered slate or tile roof at a discount. On the minus side, the materials may not last as long as if you'd bought them new, and you won't have a manufacturer's warranty. You may also struggle to find enough matching materials for a large roof.
2. Find Materials With Post-Consumer Recycled Content
If reclaimed materials aren't for you or you can't find a local source for them, your next best bet is to find materials with recycled content in them. You have to be choosy about this, though; some manufacturers may claim to use recycled content when they really just used waste material from their own mills. This is better than throwing away the waste, but it's still not the best.
For maximum impact, you'll want to choose materials that contain at least some post-consumer waste. This term means that the manufacturer used at least some material collected from sources such as municipal recycling programs, where the product served its purpose in life and was then sent to recycling rather than to the landfill.
3. Choose Minimally Processed or Natural Materials
Comparing manufacturing processes isn't always apples to apples. For example, metal requires a great deal of processing to refine, yet some metal roofing products contain a significant amount of recycled content, reducing the product's footprint considerably. 
However, in general, the more natural a product is and the closer it is to its natural state, the fewer chemicals and energy-intensive processes it likely required during manufacture. For example, slate tiles are basically just removed from the ground and formed into the right shape - they don't require firing like clay or melting like metal.
4. Select an Eco-Conscious Manufacturer
You don't want to choose a minimally processed material such as clay tile only to find out that the manufacturer uses materials gathered by irresponsible mining processes. And while cedar shakes may be a minimally processed material, they're often sourced from old-growth trees.
Choosing the correct manufacturing company can be vital. For example, look for a cedar shake company that only uses reclaimed cedar to make its products or one that only uses sustainably grown trees rather than old- growth forests.
These tips will help you think about where your eco roof comes from and the ecological effects your roofing material will have during the parts of its life when it's not on your roof. And don't forget to think about what will become of your roof at the end of its life as well.  
For example, a composite roofing material, although marketed as green, will end up in a landfill because it's not recyclable or reclaimable. Before choosing a roof, think about whether it can be the source of someone else's roof a few decades from now.
When you've chosen a material for your roof, get in touch with us at Lane's Contracting, Inc., and we will be glad to assist you with your reroofing project.