Eco-Friendly Roofing Ideas for Green Homeowners


Global warming leads to temperatures getting hotter in the summer, colder in the winter, and unpredictable weather throughout the year.

You’ve probably noticed that in your monthly energy bills which have risen in the last decade. Inflation has made electricity more expensive to produce now than ever before. Oil prices are rising as sources become more and more scarce.

At the same time, manufacturers have made great strides in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly roofing products. They can aid in lowering those hefty heating bills and fighting climate change simultaneously.

Some eco-friendly roof options last far longer than traditional roofs. If you choose to take that route, you’ll be in good company – NASA has installed environmentally conscious roofs on many of its buildings, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 Moreover, Baltic Roofing provides experienced designers and installers of various eco-friendly roofs throughout Chicagoland. Keep reading for our list of the growing trends in eco-friendly roofing design.

1.    Green Roof

The single most environmentally sustainable roof option is planting a garden on top of your house. It might sound a little odd, but several European cities have mandated green roofs on new construction for more than a decade.

The Chicago government itself suggests two different types of green roofing: intensive and extensive. Extensive takes less soil and focuses on plants that are easy to care for, with short roots. Intensive takes more soil, has deep rooted plants (including trees), but takes much more work.

Green roofs absorb sunlight and heat in the summertime and collect rainfall in winter and spring. They provide flat roof homes with added insulation protection levels, which reduces the need for air conditioning.

Some reports suggest that green roofs can drop a homeowner’s energy consumption by as much as 75 percent. Others reinforce the idea that planting a garden on top of your house helps make cities such as Chicago more resilient in the fight against climate change.

However, green roofs can be expensive to install. They take several layers of insulation, lining, edging and soil, and some engineering to ensure that rainwater doesn’t seep into your house. But your lower energy bills may offset the cost in a short time.

2.    Metal Roofs

The next best option in terms of eco-friendly roofing material is metal, especially recycled metal. Sheet metal, whether it be copper, aluminum, steel, or tin, reflects the sun’s rays. This lowers the temperature in your home and causes less need for air conditioning.

In addition, metal roofs last a long time. Getting 50 years out of a metal roof is nothing to sneer at.

The downside to a metal roof is that sound can resonate, especially during adverse weather like a heavy rain storm or hail storm. But they don’t cost as much to install as planting a green roof.

3.    Cool Roofs

Many homeowners have chosen a cool roof, or white roof, design in recent years. Cool roofs can be all white to reflect sunlight and heat. Roofscan mix white glue and gravel into the seams and spaces between more traditionally colored shingles and shakes. In either case, less light and heat penetrate the home.

If this option is on the table, you should consider the following factors:

  • Installation costs can be higher than traditional roofing materials.
  • If your home is in a high humidity area, moisture can absorb into the materials and mold may cause damage.
  • White roofs may reflect too much sun during the cold winter months. The extra heating costs may more than offset lower air conditioning bills in summer.

Baltic Roofing recommends mixing white building materials with traditional color schemes instead of all white roofs in the Chicago area. This area doesn’t receive as much sunlight as the West or Southwest, where this technology is more prominent.

4.    Solar Roofs

Leave it to Elon Musk, the eccentric owner of the Tesla motor company, to advocate for solar roofing technology. Now, instead of simply putting solar panels on your roof, you can build the roof with solar shingles.

For the next 25 years, your entire roof will not only absorb sunlight but will also convert that sunlight into productive electrical energy. Musk says that solar shingles on 400,000 homes create the same electricity as 10 million traditional solar panels.

Because solar shingles are new technology, installing these products is currently more expensive than other types of roofs. Yet solar has proven to be long-lasting and almost maintenance-free.

The passage of Illinois’ 2021 clean energy bill and federal tax credits give homeowners monetary incentives for installing solar panels or roofs. You’ll receive a rebate of 26 percent of your purchase price from the feds, and your electric bill will go down dramatically. Installing solar roofs is a great option for eco-conscious homeowners.

5.    Rubber Roofs

Recycled tires now provide a new, economical, and eco-friendly alternative to traditional roofs. They are weather-resistant, durable, and long-lasting. Homes with rubber roofs have seriously reduced leaks because of rubber’s impermeable membrane.

Roofs of this nature last up to 50 years without much maintenance. Cracks are rare and can be fixed easily with any latex sealer. They are particularly useful on flat or slightly pitched roofs.

Installing rubber is also relatively easy in comparison to other roofing materials. While wood, metal, or solar panels are placed individually, rubber rolls on quickly and is then affixed to the roof. Still, it can be a more expensive process than hammering shingles one by one.

But the added costs can be recouped through lower energy bills, especially during the summer. If you’re eco-conscious, you’ll be happy knowing that fewer tires will be decomposing in the local landfill.

Plus, these roofs work well for greater Chicagoland. They stand up to harsh winters and bright, sunny summers, and they need less maintenance than more expensive green alternatives.

6.    Clay Roofs

Using nature as the basis for your roofing needs is another environmentally friendly method. The Greeks and Romans used clay to construct the Parthenon, Colosseum, and Trevi Fountain. Clay can now be used on top of your home.

Clay tiles come in various colors and textures, so they can be coordinated with any exterior paint color. It lasts for 100 years or more and requires little maintenance (the Colosseum isn’t going anywhere soon, is it?). Clay shingles resist fire and repel insects. They also withstand heat, cold, and ultraviolet radiation. Clay is a great option in areas with high winds or hailstorms, because it acts as a natural resistance to impact events, which is perfect for the Windy City.

The biggest downside to a clay roof is its overall weight. Clay is much heavier than other materials, and your roof will need to be reinforced to carry the extra pounds. Otherwise, it could collapse a standard roof. This will add cost to the initial installation. But once again, your lower electric bills should offset this in time.

7.    Synthetic Shingle Roofs

If you are seeking a more traditional look to your roof but still want to be eco-friendly, synthetic shingles may be the products you’re looking for. They appear like traditional wood but are made from extruded plastic. Think thousands of crushed water bottles heated and molded into individual shingles for your roof. That’s thousands of water bottles not taking up space in a landfill. Engineers then create the shingles to look like various timber – oak, pine, redwood, or cedar. They include grain patterns and grooves that mimic nature.

Because they are made from plastics and polyurethane materials, these composite shingles are lighter but stronger than those made from traditional sources. They are also fire-, pest-, and impact-resistant. Synthetics help insulate houses more powerfully, so homeowners won’t need to turn on their heating or cooling systems as often.

Installation costs are approximately equal to wood. But these shingles last nearly 50 years, almost double that of their wood counterparts. So, while installation is expensive, they last long enough to make it worth it.

However, synthetic shingles are a known fire hazard. Many are made to be fire-resistant, but even so, your insurance may go up with this type of roofing.

8.    Recycled Wood Roofs

You can install a classic or rustic wood roof and still be environmentally conscious if you opt for recycled shingles. When homeowners opt for a new roof installation after 20 years or so, some shingles are still able to be kept out of the dumpster and refurbished. They are then resold to sustainability-loving new homeowners at drastically reduced prices.

Wood is beautiful and traditional. It can be stained to coordinate with any home color. But wood also has its limitations. It’s susceptible to wind, rain, snow, and fire. Dry rot, mold, or mildew can infest it. Plus, recycled wood won’t last as long on your roof as new wood. You might get 10 years out of recycled shingles before needing to replace them. That can get costly the longer you remain in your home.


New technologies and products have come into the eco-friendly roof market in recent years. Aimed at lowering a house’s carbon footprint, these roofing solutions provide eco-conscious homeowners with several economic benefits. You can also build your roof with the knowledge that the house is helping to alleviate the impact of climate change.

If you’re ready to start your journey to a more eco-friendly lifestyle, call Baltic today. Baltic professionals have the knowledge you need to do your roofing right.