More on Recycled Synthetic Roof Shingles

More on Recycled Synthetic Roof Shingles

I am an architect interested in environmental issues.

EBN is always my first source in searching for information about environmental products because of its clear summaries and comparisons. Your “Recycled Synthetic Roofing Shingles” product review (

Vol. 9, No. 5 – May 2000) raises two questions for me.

First, do you know of any research concerning UV exposure enabling rainwater to transport any metals or contaminants from these roofs? I am particularly curious as I am considering this for a residential project and am concerned about how this affects not only the local ecosystem, but also children who might be in the yard. Since there is some concern about the pollution from tire wear on freeways, I am wondering if there is also cause for concern in the use of recycled tires for roofs. (My quick look at tire wear pollution information, noted that in addition to rubber, tire wear leaves lead, zinc, cadmium, and PCBs—see www.railtrails.org/epa.html.)

More generally have you considered using a common broad range of life cycle considerations for each of your product reviews. For example, each product review would not only include what its particular green feature was, but also put it in the context of its life cycle. How are synthetic roofs disposed of? Are they more or less toxic in their disposal than traditional asphalt shingles? Are they recyclable? Are manufacturing processes safe for workers and environments where they are produced? How does their embodied energy compare to that of alternatives? I suspect your writers already have this life-cycle mindset —I am just asking if it might be made more evident in the product reviews.

I realize that

EBN is a newsletter resource, not an academic research periodical—so maybe all the questions cannot be answered. Even so, I would appreciate knowing that the questions have been raised and believe they would contribute to the green architecture movement in pointing to the holistic direction that the dialogue needs to go.

Jonee Kulman, AIA

Editor’s reply:

Thanks for the thoughtful letter. Only the FlexShake™ product is made of recycled tires, and this product features a coating of slate powder; the others reviewed are made from a variety of post-industrial recycled polymers. We have sought more published information on the potential for contamination of rainwater runoff for some time without success. Yours is a valid concern for a wide range of roofing products (see our article on Rainwater Harvesting in


Vol. 6, No. 5, May 1997).

The criteria we developed for determining product eligibility for GreenSpec include rudimentary Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) where feasible. We view these criteria as a work in progress and invite input from our readers (see


Vol. 9, No. 1, January 2000). To date we have not developed a consistent way of presenting LCA type information in

EBN product reviews because that information is so variable—both in availability and type.

Published July 1, 2000

(2000, July 1). More on Recycled Synthetic Roof Shingles. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/more-recycled-synthetic-roof-shingles

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