While the materials we’ve used for roofing have changed over the years, from hay to wood to ceramic to metal to asphalt, they’ve all had the same purpose – to keep what’s under them protected from the elements. But in our modern world nothing does just one job anymore. Multi-function is the name of the game. It’s only natural then that the materials we build our homes and businesses from do more than just keep us out the rain.
Solar Roof Tiles
The most newsworthy advancement in construction are solar roof tiles. These are not the bulky panels that dedicated enviromentalists once installed. These are actual “shingles” designed to protect your structure while also absorbing the sun’s rays and gathering energy for use within your home. They are packed with some pretty slick technology as well.
There are several producers of solar tiles in the United States. However, Tesla has begun production on “Invisible Solar Cell” shingles that give the appearance of a traditional roof, versus the very noticeable photovoltaic shingles that currently exist. They create solar and non-solar tiles so that you can choose how much energy you’re generating. The two types appear the same at street level and can come in a textured, smooth, tuscan tile, or slate appearance and look very much like any other roof. The tiles are made of tempered glass, which is shockingly three times stronger than standard tiles. The gathered solar energy is then transferred to a power cell and stored for use as needed.
Other Energy Generating Materials
Passive solar energy generation is nothing new. Over fifty years ago, builders tried to find a way to harness solar energy, specifically heat, without the use of mechanical devices. By building structures that retain and distribute heat, you can limit the need for water heaters and HVAC systems. The most recent developments in passive solar collection lie in the creation of concrete foundational blocks that also contain a central insulation layer.
These new blocks feature a reinforced concrete core with a foam insulation on both sides. Insulated foam panels on both sides create a wall, so that it takes longer to heat or cool down. A building can be made thermally stable by having the right amount of insulation on either side of the reinforced concrete core.
In China, we are seeing plant life incorprated into the exterior of buildings in order to help clean the air in densely populated areas. They are essentially creating skyscrapers covered in a forest. The first buildings like this exist in Italy and Switzerland and have proved successful. In Asian countries, where the population numbers are high and air quality is low, these breathing buildings could be a boon to their environment. You can find similar trials of green roofing in the US, at airports, universities and more.
While you may not be ready for solar tiles or living buildings, there are still energy efficencies to be gained from the classic materials if installed properly. Regardless of the type of material you choose for your roof, FASCO America® offers tools and fasteners that can help install it. In addition to standard asphalt shingle installation we offer specialty installation tools for both tile and metal roofs. Our SCRAIL® fasteners can be used in combination with our full line of pneumatic tools to cut your installation time drastically. Using our products with mindful installation can increase the longevity of your roof, regardless of material.