Selecting The Best Sustainable Roofing Materials


Using sustainable building materials has become a desired practice for many projects due to their reduced impact on the environment and their ability to last for a long time. Before manufactured materials like plastics were used, building materials were often used in their natural state, for instance slate and wood for roofing.

As technology advanced, other materials, like asphalt and metal, gained popularity, but these materials have come at a cost to the environment. Even natural materials like clay roofing tiles that are incredibly heavy also have the cost of transportation which is exacerbated by their weight. The heavier an object or load is, the more energy it takes to move. Therefore, reducing the weight of roofing tiles creates a more sustainable roofing material.

Different types of roofing materials have a different environmental impact, so choosing sustainable roofing materials means weighing the different options available in today’s roofing market.


Asphalt shingles are manufactured from a fiberglass mat coated with an asphalt-based filler material. The filler material is heated to 400 degrees and then poured over the mat to make the base. The next addition is special rock that has been crushed and coated with a ceramic material that gives the shingles their color and creates a weather-resistant surface. A layer of sand is then applied to the mat and everything is embedded together. The shingles are then cut to size.

This type of shingle is available in a range of colors and is the most affordable type of roofing material, costing between $1.00 and $1.20 per square foot. Asphalt shingles provide protection at a low cost, but they do have their downsides.

Since they are an incredibly popular roofing material, they tend to give a house a generic look that doesn’t contribute much aesthetically. Often, asphalt shingles end up in a landfill — about 12 million tons per year— at the end of their life which is typically between 15 to 20 years. However, they can be recycled and used in asphalt pavement if you are able to locate a shingle recycling program and work with your contractor to ensure they make it to the recycling center.


Slate is a sustainable material because it is a natural material, but natural slate can be cost prohibitive because of the labor to install it and the maintenance costs over time. Slate creates a beautiful Old World look, and while it’s long-lasting, it can become brittle, chip and flake over time. Cracks can allow moisture to seep under the roof tiles which can cause problems, and even leaks, to the roof itself.

Wood Shake

Wood shake shingles have a long history of protecting roofs from the elements. In the early days of America, cedar shake shingles were split from cedar logs, and traditional cedar shakes are still made from the natural material.

Traditional wood shakes, however, have a tendency to split or cup over time, allowing water to pool underneath and eventually causing damage to the underlying roof structure. Wood shake roofing requires regular maintenance and cleaning to retain its integrity, and it should be installed by a knowledgeable contractor.


For sustainability, metal roofing provides a good option. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, metal roofs are made with a minimum of 25% recycled material and are 100% recyclable. Since they can be installed over an existing roof, they eliminate the need for the disposal of old roofing materials and the environmental impacts that come with it. Plus, a metal roof can weigh half as much as an asphalt roof, which creates less load on the home itself and makes transportation cheaper.

A downside to metal roofing is that while it is available in a variety of color options, metal roofing doesn’t offer variegated color options that can be found in natural slate, wood, and clay tiles.


Synthetic roof tiles offer advantages that other types of roofing simply can’t. It is a sustainable roofing material that is made from recycled plastic and other recycled materials, and it can, in turn, be recycled at the end of its life — scraps from installation can also be recycled.

Not only can synthetic roofing materials be recycled, but they are also more cost effective, require no maintenance over the course of their life, which saves time, money, and hassle. They last for decades — and Brava roof tiles come with a 50-year warranty — they don’t need to be replaced often, saving even more time, money, and hassle.

One of the best features is their true-to-traditional appearance. Brava offers Cedar Shake, Old World Slate, and Spanish Barrel tiles that look like the original material that inspired them. Cedar shakes cast from hand-split cedar molds, slate roof tiles with a range of color options, and Spanish barrel tiles with authentic color mottling give you the options you need to achieve your desired aesthetic.

Why Brava Synthetic Roofing Tiles Are Better

To promote sustainability, our approach targets a variety of areas that decrease our impact on the environment in order to create a lower carbon footprint. Our synthetic roof tiles are made from recycled materials that may otherwise have been headed to the landfills. Our tiles are manufactured with state-of-the-art compression molding technology, so our compressed recycled plastics and other recyclable materials create a roof tile that is recyclable. This means that tile scraps can be recycled, but the roof tiles can also be recycled at the end of the roof’s life.

Another important aspect of sustainability promoted by composite roofing tiles is their durability. Since they don’t have to be repaired or replaced, they are more cost effective over their life and they create less waste. Brava roof tiles last longer than other roofing materials and are backed by a 50-year transferable warranty. Their lightweight design also reduces transportation costs.

Contact the experts at Brava today to discuss a sustainable roofing option for your project and request a sample, so you can see and feel the difference for yourself!