In this episode, we learn about the “greenest” roof that can be found in Portland, as well as the most truly green roof; cost and material effective with a low carbon footprint. Patrick tells us why this kind of roof works so well in our Western Oregon weather.

Podcast Transcription: RoofLifeB033-220

Shayla: You are listening to the Roof Life of Oregon podcast and I’m talking with Patrick Morin today. Patrick, tell me, what is the greenest roof in Portland and why?

Patrick: So the natural answer would be an unmaintained roof under maple trees. But if we’re talking about a lowest carbon footprint, or gosh, what roof is the least damaging to our environment, it would be a cedar shake roof. Right on our coast range are some of the most beautiful, healthy, big, cedar trees and you just continue up to Washington and then it gets up into British Columbia and it just multiplies by a hundred percent, hundred of percent, I would say. There’s just mountains and mountains of them. And the interesting thing that makes red cedar so green and the lowest carbon footprint, is it’s material that grows naturally. While it’s growing, it takes carbon dioxide out of the air and releases oxygen. It matures to about four hundred years of age, and then from the very center it starts to decay internally and by six hundred years of age, the wind storms that are on the coast blows them over.

When the loggers are up there getting spruce, fir, and hemlock to build homes, and they find these dead falls, that are around everywhere, they’re just huge trees. So they cut them into smaller sections so that they can bring them down, and they’ll come down with probably six big firs and one huge cedar. And in the olden days, like a hundred, a hundred and fifty years ago, they were so big that they would come down with just one cedar tree, it would fill the entire truck. And that would be just one bolt of it and they would be a hundred and eighty, two hundred feet tall, and they would only be bringing down forty feet of it. So there would be quite a few truckloads.

So there would be probably twenty to thirty roofs in one tree. So it makes a lot of shakes. So these material they drop into the Frasier River, I’m referring up to British Columbia, and they float down to the mill, and the boats push them up to the mill and they lift them right out of the water, and they bring them up, and they take the bark off, and they cut them into bolt size, which is 24 inch slabs. And then they turn them on their side, so that you can see all the rings. And then they go around and they chunk them into pieces that split with the grain. And they just mill them and so within, it would take at the most, 30 seconds a shake, of energy being produced by electricity and man power, to make a roofing material.

Once the roof is on your home, the roof is naturally insulative. So when you put a shake roof on, it has an insulative value to your home. It also, the way the shake roofs are applied, it lets a lot of air escape your attic, which is good, because it controls that moisture that causes the mold and mildew in attics and it allows you to have airflow in that dead space between what you’ve insulated, your living home, and what you don’t really care about, is your attic, except that you want it to be free flowing and have some airflow to keep it fresh and healthy.

So cedar, all those things I just mentioned about cedar, are plus, plus, plus, plus, plus on environmental impact, costs of manpower, costs of electricity, lowest carbon footprint roofing available. That’s where I think they get that it’s the greenest roof available.

Now, compare it to the alternative. So the alternative is an asphalt, let’s see, so a fiberglass mat, with asphalt coating, with granules, compressed rolled into it. Gosh, you can only just imagine what it takes to do that. A super amount of heat, the oil is a derivative of crude. It’s oxygenated, because asphalt is a liquid, it’s a take off of crude oil. So they have to oxygenate it, so it goes through oxidizers. And then while it’s warm, they spray it on a fiberglass mat, and then they compress their granules into it, and they roll it out and then they package it in plastic in bundles. Now go through every step that we just went through. Everything that was plus, plus, plus on the cedar, negative, negative, negative, negative, negative, on the asphalt. So there are really just opposing products. They are product, the asphalts, because they are inexpensive, compared to shakes. Shake’s a natural product. Asphalt shingles is a manmade product.

You can also look at stone-coated metal roofs. So there’s 26-gauge steel, adhesive applied to it, and granules blown onto it so they are stuck there. Again: negative, negative, negative, negative, because the energy that it takes to do steel, pollution it takes to do adhesives. So you have a negative, negative, negative, negative, there too.

So the other one is cement tile. Again, they have to dig it out of the earth to make cement and then they mix it with another product that they pull out of the earth. It’s a tone of energy mixing it and then they die cast it and then they bake it. High, high heat. So negative, negative, negative. So you just go into it’s comparatives.

That’s why cedar has that title of the greenest roof ever offered. It’s energy efficient and you look at its competitors and none of them have any of those attributes and a well-maintained roof, a high-quality shake roof, there is nothing better looking in my belief structure than a beautiful red cedar shake roof and it just happens to be the greenest roof in Portland.

Shayla: I have a feeling a lot of listeners in Portland would be really interested in a green roof. So if you have any more questions or would like to invest in a low-impact roof, reach out to the team at Roof Life of Oregon.


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