Green overhead

Green roofing isn’t necessarily about a garden roof terrace– although it can be – but is about new developments in making sure buildings are constructed in a more environmentally friendly way. When considering a green roof you need to focus on raw material, source and composition, durability, life-cycle, maintenance and disposal.

When choosing to install environmentally safe roofing material there will be trade-offs. For example, very efficient and durable material such as metal might require more energy to produce. However, with a little research it will be clear how to lower your carbon footprint and make a practical choice at the same time.

In South East Asia architects generally try to blend traditional designs with organic materials such as adobe, stone and cedar wood shingles. In this way they are not having to reinvent the wheel and can build structures which fit into the local area.

Wood is thermally efficient, easy to insulate and the only major building material which is renewable. The cells in wood products allow them to function as an insulator naturally. The production and processing of wood is highly energy efficient if done properly giving wood products an ultra low carbon footprint. In Thailand cedar wood is becoming a popular choice amongst architects and builders as it is also aesthetically pleasing and suits the local architecture.

Green overhead - Topic Asia Magazine - Review.
Green overhead - Slate - Topic Asia Magazine - Review.

Slate is probably the most durable roofing material but can be expensive. It is particularly popular in Europe.

It is a natural material and recyclable. However it is a non-renewable resource and the embodied energy involved in taking it from quarry to roof-top leaves a large carbon footprint. There are ways to find reclaimed or salvaged slate roofing if you search and there are some places in Thailand where this is possible.

Steel and aluminum roofs reflect the sun and don’t absorb so much heat into your home. This can cut down on air-conditioning and thus energy usage. This option is particularly useful in tropical climates.

Fibre-cement composite roofs are long lasting, fire-proof and often use recycled wood fibre in their composition. At the end of its life this product can be ground up into sand so is recyclable. These roofs are also suited to tropical climates like South East Asia.

Green overhead - Topic Asia Magazine - Review.
Green overhead - Topic Asia Magazine - Review.
Green overhead - Topic Asia Magazine - Review.
Green overhead - Topic Asia Magazine - Review.

But what about real green roofs? The ones covered in grass? They are actually becoming quite the trend in new villa developments. They use low-maintenance native plants and grasses and are used to provide greater thermal mass to buildings which keeps them cooler in climates such as Thailand. They are also aesthetically pleasing, especially in stepped developments where one house has a view of the neighbours’ roof.

Roofs are an important consideration for any new home owner. They are generally expensive to maintain, to repair and to replace. So it is important to make the right decision in regard to the environment, the materials available and other practical considerations. Slate, wood, fibre-cement composites or steel and aluminium – they all have their pros and cons and are worth some investigation.