More new-home buyers are becoming interested in making sure their roofing material not only protects their house but also causes the least harm possible to the environment.
More than half of architects in a recent American Institute of Architects survey reported increased demand for sustainable roofing products in 2007. That includes everything from "green roofs" with living plants to traditional roofing materials made with recycled content.
In Dallas, at least 95 percent of roofs have composition shingles, area builders estimate. These are an asphalt-fiberglass combination, something the eco-friendly building movement typically avoids because of the product's reliance on petroleum.
But buyers can take several steps to increase the sustainability of composition shingles. The key is better durability.
Most new homes come with a roof rated to last 20 years, but buyers should ask for one rated to last 40 to 50 years, said environmental building consultant David Johnston, co-author of the book Green Remodeling.
Buyers should also look for shingles rated Class 4, which means they are hail-resistant, said Chris Miles, a principal at GreenCraft
builders in Lewisville.Energy Saving Tip: Track Your Energy Costs with a Home Energy Audit.
An energy audit will show you which areas of your home use the most energy and help you decide the most effective way to reduce energy costs. You can conduct a simple audit yourself, contact your local utility, or call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination. Check your home's insulation levels, and check for open fireplace dampers. Look for holes or cracks around doors, light and plumbing fixtures, and other places where air may leak into or out of your home. Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained, and study your family's lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas.