The Future of Roofing, Explained With Three Key Innovations

July 07, 2017
Chicago, Illinois
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Anyone that’s ever had to set aside time on the weekend to scale a ladder and inspect their roof’s material and coating understands that roofing is not a hotbed of excitement for most homeowners. If you’re an exterior remodeler, though, or simply an avid follower of home improvement innovations, there are few home service sectors more dynamic than the roofing industry right now.

For years, the main selling point for most roofing systems, regardless of their material or construction, was how well they withstood severe weather and climatic conditions. Contractors in Phoenix or El Paso may sell a roof based on its heat-reflective and insulating properties, while Cleveland roofers may tout nonporous asphalt shingle roofs that prevent the permeation of moisture brought on by lake humidity.

Now, the focus has shifted to how a roof’s design can adapt to those conditions in a way that optimizes a home’s structural integrity and energy efficiency. To give you a better idea of how advancing technology is changing the conversation about roofing innovation, here are three cutting-edge systems that are causing homeowners nationwide to take note of their property’s most overlooked feature:


Solar Panel Roofing That Promises Complete Energy Independence

Until recently, living “off the grid” was a pipe dream for farmers and conspiracy theorists sporting tin foil hats; but with the advent of solar panel roofing, energy-independent homes may soon be the norm—not the exception. Companies like Tesla have developed and begun installing residential solar panel roofs with glass tiling that’s often much more durable and impact-resistant than comparable materials, like slate or metal.

Apart from giving your home one of the sleekest exterior features on the market, the biggest innovation is how collected sunlight is stored in a compact, home-mounted battery. This energy reserve ensures that homeowners can enjoy uninterrupted power—even during energy outages, natural disasters, and the occasional span of overcast weather.


Blue Roofing Designed to Optimize Storm Drainage

Commonly referred to as “blue roofs”, these installations are built atop a waterproofed membrane and lined with controlled-flow drainage spouts. These spouts collect rainwater via meshed inlets up to a predetermined depth before gradually draining. This detention and slow release of runoff water reduces street and driveway flooding, while also preventing large influxes of water hitting sewer systems simultaneously.

Blue roofs are not common constructions, but they’re heavily promoted in large metropolises like New York City, where even the smallest amount of runoff from thousands of buildings cramped into a small area can create immense street-level flooding and structural concerns for its water treatment and sanitation systems.


Green Roofs Perfect for Concrete Jungles

Green roofs, also referred to as “living roofs”, are rapidly becoming one of the most popular eco-friendly exterior renovations—partially because of how easy it is to start growing one. Highly ornate green roofs, namely ones that would sit atop commercial skyscrapers, require a large-scale waterproofing membrane, like a root barrier or an extensive irrigation network. This is because they often house a large amount of vegetation that needs an ample supply of water and soil nutrients. More modest green roofs can be started with a 1 to 2-inch soil layer and regular care.

In addition to providing a collection of plants that can photosynthesize nearby carbon emissions, these roofs also give residential and commercial properties additional shade and protection from the heat island effect—common in heavily industrialized cities where heat is generated by the close proximity of people and the constant running of air conditioners and other cooling systems.


The push for energy efficiency and independence can be found throughout every home service sector, but roofing contractors are constantly on their toes trying to keep up with the rapid-fire innovations currently reinventing their industry. If you’re a homeowner, though, it’s not as crucial to follow every single technological development, but it is important to generally know the traditional and alternative roofing systems you can choose from to ensure that your next roof meets your personal standards for thermal efficiency and long-term durability.

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