Putting roof tile sustainability first

Mark Parsons of Russell Roof Tiles explores why housebuilders and developers need to be working closely with roofing manufacturers to incorporate sustainable solutions on new-builds, in order to ensure they are attracting the current generation of homeowners.

The housebuilding industry has seen a real drive for sustainable solutions in recent years. In fact, according to a recent report 22 per cent of homebuyers now say the use of recycled and sustainable building products is one of the most important considerations for them when buying a new home, with over half of 25-40 year olds reported to want their next home to be made using sustainable materials.

These statistics, coupled with the Government’s 2017 plans to ensure that 25 million new homes are insulated and energy efficient by 2050, has seen housebuilders and developers under pressure to incorporate sustainability at every stage of development. As a result, almost two-thirds of businesses operating in the housebuilding industry are now more committed to taking action on sustainability than they were 12 months ago.

To ensure that they are supporting the Government’s aims and delivering what homebuyers want, it is paramount that housebuilders and developers work with manufacturers that share the same sustainable ambitions.

Some developers have publicly stated that they will now only work with suppliers and manufacturers who have an emphasis on sustainability. One developer has even set a challenging target to reduce waste relative to build area by 20 per cent by 2025, and as a result, they are only working with manufacturers and suppliers who can help them reach this goal.

With so many homebuyers now looking for new sustainable homes, one of the first considerations for a housebuilder should be the materials supplied by the manufacturer, as they play a large part in helping a contractor or developer provide sustainable solutions on new builds.

From insulation and bricks to the tiles used on top of the roof, each product on a new-build should be considered. For instance, concrete roof tiles are extremely strong, durable, and the manufacturing process uses considerably less energy when compared with similar clay counterparts because extensive power is required for firing clay in a 1,000+ºC kiln for up to 48 hours. Concrete tiles are cured at a much lower temperature – in the region of 55ºC – and for a shorter period of time of around 24 hours. By comparison, this equates to an overall energy saving of up to 30 per cent of that required in the production of clay tiles.

A thinner leading-edge tile can also be instrumental in providing a sustainable roofing solution. The tile uses 15 per cent less raw materials than a standard concrete roof tile, and the product has less depth. This means that around 20 per cent more tiles can be packed onto a pallet, which equates to a much lower carbon footprint when transporting them.

However, it is not just the products that need to be considered. To be recognised as a sustainable housebuilder or developer, it is important to work with companies and suppliers who have considered their environmentally friendly production, recycling and energy efficiency processes.

A manufacturer’s sustainable initiatives could include keeping landfill waste to a minimum and recycling plastic by crushing it down for other uses. They may also only use local raw material suppliers, which can reduce the environmental impact of large trucks travelling long distances and creating pollution.

Housebuilders and developers can recognise a manufacturer’s dedication to sustainability easily through accreditations such as the BES 6001: Issue 3. This standard is the most recent version of the BRE Framework for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction incorporating the need for energy efficiency. It highlights where a manufacturer is reducing both its environmental impact and its consumption of resources.

By choosing manufacturers that have a sustainable ethos and products now, housebuilders and developers will be better equipped to reach the Government’s ambitious plans and to achieve homebuyers’ requirements for their properties.

Mark Parsons is technical director at Russell Roof Tiles