Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

A large EPDM flat roof in a rural area

The roofing industry has a growing problem that is hard to ignore. As society changes gears from environmental ignorance to environmental efficiency, we need to do our bit to ensure that our practices and materials match our way of thinking. Take the common roofing material asphalt, for example. Asphalt is used extensively worldwide, and it’s been favoured for more than 100 years, but did you know that it’s easily recyclable? Apparently, a lot of people don’t, as more than 11 million tonnes of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the US alone every year. That’s a staggering amount. 

This figure gets worse when you consider the short 10-year lifespan of the material. If the attitudes of the industry don’t increase, we could see serious repercussions. So it’s best to start while we can. In that regard, we’ve put our thinking caps on to decide which roofing options you should consider, whether you’re a supplier, contractor or customer.

EPDM

As early as 1996, organisations were making the benefits of EPDM clear. In its report titled “Building the Future: A Guide to Building Without PVC” Greenpeace placed EPDM at the top of its list for low-impact membranes. The Kyoto Protocol, effective in 2005, directly mentions EPDM as a recommendation for roofing applications. In fact, our own government also recommends it for use in their own construction projects. But what makes it so useful? Why is it recommended by so many people? 

The Environmental Impact of EPDM

The environmental impact of any material is something that should be considered before it’s put to use. EPDM is no different, however, it does provide negligible environmental impact during manufacture. The amount of energy needed to produce EPDM is so low that it has one of the lowest embodied energy numbers, which represents the amount of energy that is required to create and install the product in the first place. 

The material has also been analysed extensively over the years, with positive findings that further explain its favouritism among environmental groups. No toxic substances are released from EPDM over time, which means that in theory, you could collect the rainwater runoff from your roof and use it in household appliances. The Belgian BECEWA Institute released the following statement after a study: “After exposure to Firestone RubberGard EPDM, the water complies with the basic environmental quality standard for surface water and there is no abnormal germ growth. The water can be used for household use.”

Can You Recycle EPDM?

Many customers don’t even consider recycling their existing roof, but all that material has to go somewhere. As previously mentioned, the common misconception that asphalt shingles aren’t recyclable has led to millions of tonnes of waste on a yearly basis. EPDM, on the other hand, is completely recyclable. In fact, recycled EPDM is commonly used in walkway pads or road asphalt. Firestone itself promoted the EPDM Roofing Association’s roof recycling program, making EPDM the leading recycled commercial roofing material in North America. 

Green Roof

EPDM membranes are also perfectly usable on a green roof. These roofs are becoming popular in both rural and urban landscapes, with “eco-roofs” or “living roofs” being promoted by several companies. Thanks to its waterproofing properties, EPDM is often a go-to material for many organisations, and for good reason. Green roofs have many benefits, including rainwater absorption and wildlife habitation. They also help cool urban areas, reducing the heat that is continuously generated. 

Durable and Functional

So EPDM is a great choice for the environmentally conscious, but is it a good choice in general? EPDM is a high-performing material that is considered immune to ozone, UV radiation and cold cracking. It also expands and contracts with building movement, making it suitable for several climates. The material is considered energy efficient too, which we recently examined in another blog post. You can even place solar panels on the membrane too if needed! Simply put, EPDM is perfect for both the environmentally conscious and the everyday roofer. What’s not to like? 

Choose Firestone EPDM

As suppliers of Firestone EPDM, we know that it’s the best on the market. Our extensive operations cover the entire UK, so we’re happy to supply it to distributors, stockists and contractors. We even provide a dropshipping service for merchants as well. If you have any questions about our goods, just contact our team. We aim to work alongside and augment your existing service, so send your questions our way. 

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