Are clay roofing tiles a green choice?

Green Living Image Gallery Clay roof tiles are cool in more ways than one -- they look stylish, and their curved shape allows for great ventilation. See more green living pictures.

Companies in every part of the construction industry are going green, and roofing is no exception. There are lots of options available, from metal to thermoplastic, but if you want a stylish roof that really stands out, you might want to consider clay roofing tiles.

Clay tile wins points for green building on several fronts: It's reflective, it's ventilated and it's actually made of earth. What could be more recyclable?


Also, since clay tiles can last for up to 100 years, you probably won't have to reroof for a very long time.

In fact, one clay tile manufacturer, Ludowici, actually offers a 75-year warranty, which isn't unusual for this material. The company posits that 95 percent of the materials used in construction of the tiles are recycled, and they're made of earth and water -- all natural materials.

The curved shape of the tiles allows for superior ventilation, so that hot air isn't trapped between the material and the roof in the summer. Also, because they're heavy, they help insulate the home year round.

Clay roofing tiles score well on the complicated rating system that the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), an independent rating group, uses to assess just how cool a roofing material is. Materials are rated based on how much sunshine they can reflect back into the atmosphere and how well they radiate the heat they absorb. These factors are translated into values for solar reflectance and thermal emittance that help create the rating.

A material can still be considered a cool choice even if it has a low thermal emittance. If it shoots a lot of sunshine away from the building, it's still doing a good job. However, according to the CRRC, clay tiles tend to earn very high ratings for thermal emittance. That means that even if the light is not bouncing off the tiles, they tend to release the heat very well, which makes them a green roofing choice.

For more articles about roofing and green building materials, check out the links on the next page.


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Related Articles

  • Clark, Jessica. Marketing liaison, Cool Roof Rating Council. Personal interview. April 22, 2011.
  • Cool Roof Rating Council Web site. (April 29, 2011)
  • Ludowici Roof Tile. "Ludowici is leading the way in the Green movement for roofing." (April 26, 2011)
  • NAHB Research Center. "Residential Green Roof Systems." (April 28, 2011)