The term “green” has become very popular during the last decade and consequently overused, misused and abused. Anything and everything can be called “green” today. To make money and to attract environmentally-conscious customers, people will call themselves and their products “green”, even when it is just a blatant lie to confuse uneducated consumers. Being a roofing contractor, I will concentrate on roofing products and services. For example, many asphalt shingles manufacturers now offer “cool” and “green” shingle products – to me it’s just a shameless tactic to sell the same NOT-GREEN crap that is painted A different color (usually some shade of white). Excuse me, but asphalts shingles are not green, period! TheY are made with asphalt, can’t be recycled and end up in landfills in 10-15 years.
Since the term green is very vague and can be interpreted in many ways, I’ll offer my vision of “green” – a green roofing contractor to be exact, which describes the way I think and try to operate our roofing business. I want to mention that when I say “green roofing contractor”, it has nothing to do with with a roofing contractor installing green roofs or roof-top gardens. To me a contractor installing roof-top vegetation is a highly-specialized landscaping company, but not a roofing contractor (unless they also install the actual flat roofing membrane to waterproof the building).
Quick navigation in this article:
What is a “green” roofing contractor and how one is different from regular roofing companies.
Learn about green benefits of Metal Roofing and IB Flat Roof
What is a “green” roofing contractor?
In my mind a green roofing contractor is a company that works hard to help protect environment and reduce its energy consumption and green-house gas production or carbon footprint. Sure, almost any company will have a carbon-footprint as it’s nearly impossible to be carbon-neutral, but there are many ways to achieve a much lower carbon footprint.
Here are some things we do to make our overall operation as green as we can, all-the-while saving you, our customers, money on roof installation services, by cutting our internal costs:
First of all, we install cool roofing products, such as IB Cool Flat roofs and Metal roofing systems (usually made from about 90% recycled metal).We also try to do this in the most efficient manner possible to reduce waste, conserve resources and reduce our clients’ energy use for cooling their home or place of business, as a result of installing our cool roofs.
What makes us a green roofing company?
Besides installing cool and green roofing products, we strive to be green in operating our business. When it comes to estimating a roof, most roofing contractors will go to numerous roofing estimates, many of which they will not sell. Keep in mind that many home owners get as many as 5-10 estimates before they make up their mind, and some roofers need to make two trips if they forgot to measure something.
We work differently: to save our time and most importantly, the energy (gasoline) it takes to drive around to hundreds of homes and business, and the associated pollution, we created a system to make our estimating process as efficient as possible. This benefits everyone, and you – our customers in the first place.
Here is how our “green” roofing estimate process works:
- When you as a client (homeowner or small business), contact us by email or by phone, we collect as much information about your roof as possible. The information that we collect includes:
- Type of your roof including all roof penetrations and other specific details.
- Dimensions of your home.
- Photographs of your house and/or roof. (If pictures are unavailable for some reason, we will use Google Maps’ “street view” and Bing Maps’ “birds view” to get an idea of what your roof is like)
- Number of layers of the existing roofing materials.
- Roof age.
- Whether your roof leaks or not.
- When you plan to replace the roof.
- Any other roof related information, as well as answer as many of your questions as we can.
What is so special about the way we estimate roofs?
The process I’ve described above, eliminates 70% of unnecessary “driving-around”, which not only helps the environment, but also saves you – our customers money! Since most roofing contractors provide seemingly “free roof estimates”, while still spending time on gas / expenses, and using their time to drive around estimating roofs, the customers that actually do sign up to work with such contractors, end up paying for all previously unsold roofing estimates. We do it differently – we give you all the information we can, including our pricing, so there are no surprises. When you have this info, you can decide if you want to work with us. To avoid charging our customers for someone-else’ unsold estimate, we implemented a $99 estimate fee, which is included in the price of the roof if you decide to work with us (it is not an extra charge). This way you only “pay” for your own estimate, and only if after the estimate you decided that for some reason you do not want to work with us. If we sign a contract – you do not pay the $99 fee. The Bottom line – you, our customers don’t pay for other people who “wasted” our time, as is the case with most other roofing contractors.
When we actually go to do an estimate, we ask if you have an appropriate ladder at your house, so we can access your roof. If you do not have an appropriate ladder or roof access, we will bring a truck with all needed ladders. But if you do have a ladder, we’d rather take a “car” instead of the truck. This may sound “cheesy” of us, but here is why we do it:
To be more green, we purchased a Toyota Prius – arguably the greenest and most fuel efficient production car in the US. The sole purpose of getting it was so that we can use it for estimating roofs. Its roomy enough to hold all the needed samples and small hand tools (such as the Hand welder for IB Roof seam welding demonstration), and can also hold additional materials for when your roof needs urgent repair work, which we can perform after the roof inspection / estimate.
Toyota Prius – Green Roofing Contractor’s estimating vehicle.
We would rather take the Prius to an estimate because we usually have to drive long distances, as our roofing jobs take place all over southern New England – we install roofs in Massachusetts, and as far west as NY borders of Western Mass. and Connecticut. A Prius will save a lot of gas when we have to drive this far, and as a result reduce a lot of pollution. And no, we do not do it to merely save a couple of bucks on gas – it will take us about 300,000 miles to break even at current gas prices ($2.59 / gallon of unleaded gas here in Massachusetts), if we compare the cost of a new Prius vs. new Corolla / Civic.
In the end, the way we perform our roofing estimates, benefits you (financially, as we do not need to up-charge you for costs of doing “free estimates”), us – also financially and time-wise, and the environment. This shows just one of the ways we are trying to be the “greener” roofing contractor.
Another way which makes us a greener roofing contractor is our product line of Cool Roofing products, which last a VERY long time without leaks, and are mostly recyclable and are often made from recycled materials. These products include IB Cool Flat Roofing membrane for flat roofs, Recycled (or new) Roofing Insulation, and different types of metal roofing materials, which often consist of more than 50% of recycled metals.
In some cases we will also recommend that you do not tear off your existing roof (this only applies to 1 layer of existing roofing materials), which will reduce land-fill waste and your costs of roof removal and disposal. Look forward to our future article on when you should and should not tear off your old roof.
Green benefits of Cool Flat Roofing products – IB Roofs:
IB roofs’ cool white surface reflects up-to 95% of solar heat, and dramatically reduces cooling costs in the summer. With additional thermal insulation, winter heating costs are also reduced by as much as 25-30%.
IB PVC roofing is long-lasting – you can expect your IB roof to last 30+ years without any repairs (unless there is a physical damage) while an average flat roof, such as EPDM Rubber roof or tar and gravel roof, lasts 10-15 years. Long on-the-roof service life means that you would replace your non-IB roof at least once or twice before an IB roof even begins to leak. Beside enormous, non biodegradable or recyclable waste going to landfills, there is also a huge amount of energy involved in the installation of a new roof:
From roofing crews, each driving their F-250 or Dodge Ram to work each day, to heavy equipment delivering materials to job-site and diesel-hungry dumpster trucks going back and forth from a job site to a landfill, hauling the waste roofing materials.
IB Roofs are thinner and lighter than any asphalt-based product, and each roll of IB 50-mil membrane has 500 sq. ft. coverage. Therefore, for an average residential flat roof installation we need only one trip of a fully loaded work truck or van to bring all materials, tools and 3 roofers to a job site. And we don’t need to bring a crane or haul a tar kettle around.
If you have an new hot tar or asphalt roof put on, also think about all the energy going to heat up that tar or asphalt to the point of boiling. For a torch-down modified bitumen roof, think of all the propane gas being burned to melt each square foot of that roof.
Simply by switching to cool flat roof products, a roofing contractor can in time, reduce their carbon footprint by almost 50%, increase profits, production, have happier and healthier employees (just imagine breathing in tar dust or hot asphalt fumes each day), and help protect the environment overall.
Installation video of Cool, White IB roof – hot air welding:
Green benefits of Metal Roofing:
Metal roofing is the longest lasting roofing material for sloped roofs. Some copper roofs in Europe have lasted more than 5 centuries. Metal roofs are readily made with more than 50% of recycled metals content, and will outlast ANY asphalt shingles roof by at least 3 times (when installed properly), and often will last well beyond its warranty periods.This will significantly reduce the asphalt shingles waste that goes to the landfills every 10 to 15 years, when your roof starts to leak and needs to be replaced.
Metal roofs like IB flat roofs are Cool, Energy Star compliant roofs, and will reflect significant amount of solar heat, as well as minimize heat transfer into your house. Reflectivity of metal roofs depends on the color (lighter colors will be more reflective) and the paint or coating used in manufacturing of a given metal roofing systems. The de-facto coating used in metal roofing is Kynar 500 paint and any of its variations / modifications by third-party manufacturers. These paints have in them cool roof reflective pigments, and will usually qualify of $1500 federal tax credit for energy efficient home improvements.
If your metal roof was installed incorrectly or is way past its warranty period and starts to rust / leak (only steel roofs can rust, as other metals used in metal roofing are usually rust-proof, except for corrosion caused by mixing of different metals, such as copper and aluminum). These old metal roofing materials can be recycled, and there and numerous metal recycling facilities around, where contractors bring old metals.
When we replaced old metal roofs on IHOP restaurants (which were in part incorrectly installed over 35 years ago) in Hyannis, MA and Brighton, MA, we recycled every single piece of each of those roofs, including clips and nails used to hold them down. For more information, read our article on pros and cons of metal roofing.
Installation video of Standing Seam Cool Metal Roof:
Why hire green roofing contractors?
Basically, when you are dealing with a green roofing company, you can usually expect to work with caring and responsible people, who charge a little extra for their products and services, but will give you a lot more than your neighborhood roofer from the yellow pages. It is almost a given that level of workmanship and quality of roofing products will be above and beyond those of most other roofing contractors. And of course, the green roofing contractors will use earth-friendly products and will run their operations in a green way, which will benefit the environment. You don’t have to believe in global warming to agree that using green products and conserving energy / resources is a good thing.
If you live or own a business in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island and need a new roof – let us know and we will give you some of the best deals around. Fill out our roof estimate form and we will help you get a “greener roof” and we promise to be gentle with mother earth!
You may use our roofing calculator to estimate the cost of your roof replacement, find out your potential energy savings (in dollars) and compare the prices of IB Roof to “not cool” EPDM rubber and Modified Bitumen (torch-down) roofs.
So is your roofing contractor green?
Written by Leo - roofer with a vision. Follow Leo on Google+