Flowers on a clay tile roof overlooking a southwestern landscape. Photo by Orkhan Farmanli on Unsplash.

In this day and age, and especially in a demanding climate like Phoenix, most homeowners are becoming increasingly cognizant of their energy consumption and how their living environment can have a dramatic impact on the size of their carbon footprint. For this reason and others, sustainable roofing and home construction are gaining popularity across the state of Arizona. 

In this homeowner’s guide from Express Roofing, we review some of the most effective and energy-efficient materials used in sustainable roofing. Read on to learn more about these home construction components, and be sure to contact our team of professional local roofers when you’re ready to upgrade your roof to optimal eco-friendly standards.


In order from most to least sustainable, these are the roofing materials that should be considered when aiming to increase the energy efficiency of your home:

  • Clay Tile Roofing
  • Concrete Tile Roofing
  • Slate Roofing
  • Metal Roofing
  • Green Roof or Living Roof

Clay Tile Roofing

Not only is clay tile an aesthetically pleasing way to enhance the appearance of your home’s roof, but it’s also one of the most sustainable materials on the market. This variety of eco-friendly roofing is sourced from natural materials found in clay pits where the fundamental minerals are first formed. Once fired in a kiln and glazed with a thin protective coating, clay tiles prove to be immensely long-lasting, durable, and 100% recyclable. Indeed, a quality clay tile roof — if maintained properly and given regular inspections — can last long enough to outlive most humans, with an average lifespan of 75 or more years. 

The longevity and reliability of clay tiles has a lot to do with the manner in which it is manufactured. The most common manufacturing method for this material produces a unit known as a two-piece clay tile. Although its origins stem back two thousand years, when these tiles were characterized by a comparatively thin and fragile design, the processes and techniques that go into clay tile creation today are much more advanced and structurally sound than their historical forebears. 

When you see a roof made from this construction material, you might take a moment to appreciate its weight in more ways than one: not only do modern clay roofing tiles tend to weigh 10 or more pounds per square foot, but they also carry some significant clout when it comes to their thermal efficiency. A clay tile roof — yes, even in Phoenix! — can drastically reduce utility costs and energy consumption thanks to its insulative effects which keep hot air out of your home, while retaining maximum amounts of cool air on the inside. 

Concrete Tile Roofing

No longer just a feature of sidewalks and structural foundations, concrete has made its way into the roofing industry over the past few decades. More importantly, concrete tiles are arguably the second-most sustainable variety of roofing materials. With a bit more bulk than alternative materials, concrete tiles tend to be thicker than other types of tile, but with comparable weight to its clay counterparts. 

Despite their durability and ease of customizability, concrete tiles do tend to rank a bit lower on the energy-saving scale. This is because they’re attached to roof slopes whose design creates an air barrier between the tile and the underlying surface. In other words, concrete tile roofs retain interior thermal conditions a bit less effectively than, say, a terra cotta property topper. However, concrete tiles are generally more affordable than true clay tiles, so budget-conscious homeowners may be more inclined to opt for this variety. Whether you close a roofing deal on clay or concrete, you’ll still save plenty on energy costs with either one of these environmentally conscious materials. 

Green Roofs (A.K.A. Living Roofs)

The green gardens of coastal and tropical environments aren’t too common in a desert climate like Arizona, but you can still add a vivid verdant accent to your home with the integration of a green roof. So named due to its construction from living plants and turf, a green roof is both a sustainable and eye-catching option for residential roofing. Due to its plant-based foundation, a living roof has a number of eco-friendly features. This eco-conscious roof variety tends to thrive even in arid environments because both sloped and flat roofs can be optimized to increase water and rainfall retention. Furthermore, grass and other plant life result in the cleansing and purification of surrounding air pollution. On top of all this, the combination of soil and flora boasts impressive effects in terms of cooling and insulation. Call it a green roof or a living roof, but regardless of nomenclature, you’re sure to decrease your carbon footprint just as much as you’ll increase your curb appeal with this style of residential roofing.

Slate Roofing

Fire-resistant, waterproof, and resilient against chips and cracks, slate roofing is both a durable and affordable option to consider for sustainable roof construction. The primary environmental advantage of slate roofing pertains to its lifespan, which is generally determined by how the material was manufactured. Although all types of slate roofs are more sustainable than the majority of asphalt alternatives, there is an important distinction to make in the two primary types of these roofs.

Slate roofing may be classified as either “hard” or “soft” depending on the process by which it is produced. The “hard” style of slate roofing boasts up to 200 years of functional performance, whereas “soft” slate roofing (generally lower in cost and lifespan) is still quite impressive with an optimal lifespan of about one century. To put both of these statistics into perspective, consider that the average asphalt roof in an area such as Phoenix needs to be replaced every 20 to 30 years.

When you install a slate roof, you probably won’t need to worry about repairing or replacing it anytime in the near future, but don’t count on it lowering your energy bills from the get-go. Whether a slate roof prevents your precious AC from flying out the door will depend upon the existing insulation system in your Phoenix home. But if you’re more concerned with curb appeal than the cost of your monthly power, consider the dualistic appeal of its appearance: shingles are coarsely cut but relatively uniform, giving your eco-conscious roof an appearance at once rugged and refined.

Learn More About Sustainable Roofing From Our Local Team Of Contractors

At Express Roofing, we take pride in our quality of workmanship and customer service just as much as our community values. We’re strongly committed to the clients we serve locally, but we recognize that even small-scale changes can have a global impact. That’s why we provide resources on sustainable roofing, as well as why many of our roofing materials are recycled, reclaimed, or long-lasting enough to ensure that they won’t end up in landfills anytime soon. If you’re interested in improving your home’s energy efficiency, making a positive impact on the health of the climate, or simply interested in learning more about the differences between eco-friendly roofs, please contact our team of expert roofing contractors in Phoenix today.