Residential Roofing

5 Ways Roofers Can Celebrate Earth Day, Everyday

By Annie Crawford

March 22, 2018

Graphic image of earth from space in blues and greens reading 'Make Every Day Earth Day.'

Your work lives in the public eye, protecting families from the elements through the roofing systems you install. As a roofer, you can have just as much of an impact on protecting the planet as you do protecting homes. With a few simple strategies, you can help protect the earth, save yourself money, and build your company's reputation in sustainability. Consider adopting these five money- and environment-saving practices which can help further your efforts to protect the planet on Earth Day and beyond.

1. Swap Out Single-Use Plastic

Save money and the planet at the same time by limiting single-use plastics such as disposable water bottles. Up to 50% of single-use plastic is only in use for minutes before being thrown away, and much of it can't be recycled. Currently, more than 340 million tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean per year—roughly equivalent to one garbage truck per minute.

Your roofing company can make a difference by providing refillable water bottles. Swap out disposable plastic water bottles for a refillable water cooler strapped to your truck. The cost of multiple cases of plastic water bottles adds up quickly. A money-saving alternative is to provide your crew with company-branded water bottles they can refill from the water cooler throughout the day. This one-time expense can help save you money over time and reduces the stress on local landfills.

2. Bring Two Bins

Carry a bin for garbage and a bin for recycling in trucks. Rather than throwing recyclables into a single-use plastic garbage bag slated for the dump, designate a reusable bin for recyclables from the jobsite. Use a second bin to collect garbage. This system saves on purchasing garbage bags and reduces single-use plastic waste.

3. Save on Gas

Work trucks require plenty of fuel, which is why efficient gas use makes both financial and environmental sense.

Here's how to cut down on fuel costs and pollution:

  • Plan ahead for materials: Making multiple supply runs for one jobsite wastes time and gas. Sometimes an extra trip is unavoidable, but checking that all required items are in place can help curb extra driving.
  • Limit truck idling: Encourage your crew to avoid idling trucks for long periods of time, such as during lunch breaks. Idling uses fuel, creating unnecessary emissions and raising fuel costs. The planet—and surrounding jobsite neighbors—will thank you.

4. Recycle Asphalt Shingles

Imagine if the asphalt shingles you tear off during a reroof could be repurposed into new shingles rather than piling up in the dump. You don't have to—it's already possible.

Each year, roofers remove about 13 million tons of asphalt material. Approximately 10% of that becomes part of projects such as road paving. The remaining material represents a lot of garbage with a lot of potential.

The GAF RoofCycle™ Process plans to tap into that potential. GAF is able to use about 90 percent of the post-consumer shingle waste it collects and reintroduce it into the shingle manufacturing process. If scaled, this could put a lot of asphalt waste back to work—reducing both the need for virgin materials and the burden on landfills.

By routing used shingles into the system and educating customers about sustainable shingle options, roofers can play a key role in the future of asphalt recycling. Learn more and receive updates when the program becomes available in your area.

5. Promote Green Roofing

Customers are increasingly committed to helping the environment—71% of consumers are willing to pay more for a socially or environmentally friendly product. Take the opportunity when selling a roof to educate customers about green roofing options:

  • Talk solar shingles: Help customers explore the difference between the Timberline Solar™ roofing system and a traditional asphalt shingle roof. Homes may benefit from solar shingles, which can eliminate the need for a secondary solar panel contractor and highlight the streamlined aesthetic of architectural asphalt shingles.
  • Introduce asphalt recycling: Share the concept of asphalt recycling with customers so that they know their roof may have the potential to be repurposed into the circular roofing economy in the future.
  • Hype Your Efforts: Share how your company's policies—such as reducing single-use plastic—positively impact the world. Don't let your good efforts go unnoticed.

It's never too late to implement individual changes that can have a big impact. Strategies such as ditching single-use plastic can help save money, and using shingles that contain recycled material when they become available in your area can help build goodwill in your community. All of this can help keep our planet healthy.

It doesn't have to be Earth Day for you to think about how you can get involved in more sustainable roofing practices. Get inspired and learn more about how GAF is investing in the shared future of our planet by visiting

About the Author

Annie Crawford is a freelance writer in Oakland, CA, covering travel, style, and home improvement. Find more of her work at

Related Articles

GAF Sustainability Award winners holding their award.
In Your Community

GAF Celebrates Major Strides in Manufacturing Sustainability

Manufacturing sustainability is a top priority for GAF. In 2022, the company announced its 2030 Planet Goals to "focus on operational improvements, product transparency, and the introduction of circularity in the asphaltic shingle industry."Looking to lead positive change while considering the long-term impact of its business on the planet, GAF identified several goals, including:Diverting 1 million tons of roofing materials from landfills while integrating recycled shingle materials into new shingle productsDiverting 80% of manufacturing waste from landfills, recycling all shingle and TPO scrap that results from the manufacturing process, and recycling or reusing fiberglass mat scraps and coresReducing embodied carbon and operation carbon throughout its manufacturing and operationsAchieving Environmental Product Declarations for its core products, conducting life cycle assessments, and generating 2.5 GW of power from solar roofs in partnership with GAF EnergyMeeting these goals takes time, resources, innovation, and ingenuity, all backed by a team working to build a better world. Every GAF location is striving to meet the company's goals. Looking back on the progress made in 2023, some impressive accomplishments are bringing the company closer to achieving full manufacturing sustainability.Residential ManufacturingThe GAF Mt. Vernon, Indiana, shingle manufacturing plant worked toward achieving sustainable operations through robust recycling efforts. The team established a shingle recycling outlet estimated to divert thousands of tons of asphalt shingles from landfills annually. This has eliminated thousands of dollars in disposal fees and reduced transportation costs.The Mt. Vernon staff found creative ways to keep complex waste materials out of landfills, including working with a local golf course that could take the plant's waste sand. The team implemented an internal recycling program that includes cardboard and packaging materials, increasing its waste diversion score.Commercial ManufacturingAt the Gainesville, Texas, plant that manufactures TPO and Polyiso, team members earned the area's first waste diversion certification for both products' waste streams. They also earned a recycled content certification for each.The plant established a trial program with a plastics recycler to reprocess TPO skin material for reuse in manufacturing new material. Recycling and reusing would divert thousands of tons of waste from landfills and use recycled materials in manufacturing flexible TPO for flashings.The plant also developed a program with a local recycling company that serves as a single source to take its pallets, large cardboard boxes, facers, paper, and plastics.Sustainability All-StarsRecycling and manufacturing sustainability programs wouldn't be possible without the people behind the initiatives. GAF is proud to spotlight these individuals who went above and beyond to meet the company's sustainability goals.Ben AnselmanAs part of the Mt. Vernon team, Anselman was critical to starting the plant's core recycling program. He initiated repairs to an existing baler and established a program for recycling the super sacks. His creativity sparked the partnership with the local golf course to divert aggregate waste from landfills. In addition, he was the champion for the shingle recycling outlet project and repurposed an existing compactor to reinstate a cardboard recycling initiative.Christina Talladira and Amy WilsonThese teammates lead the core recycling program at the Tampa, Florida, manufacturing plant. They worked together to establish aggregate and shingle recycling programs with their local recycling company. Talladira and Wilson consistently look for ways to divert waste streams from landfills. They also handle the administrative needs accompanying these programs, including scheduling loads and tracking waste.Jeremy TisdaleAt the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant, Tisdale took the initiative to improve its core recycling program and set up a cardboard recycling program. He also championed a baler trial for glass mat cover and core waste, developing standard operating procedures and a job safety analysis. He was the innovator behind diverting the plant's plastic waste from landfills. He created a program where stretch film and shingle bundle packaging waste is saved in Gaylord boxes and then baled whenever the plant has downtime.Pete WeyrensIn Gainesville, Texas, Weyrens is the champion behind the plant's recycling efforts, establishing relationships with the local recycling company. He also organized the flexible TPO skin material trials. This effort will divert thousands of tons of waste from landfills and use recycled materials to manufacture flexible TPO for flashings.Leslie PeelsAfter the plant in Cumming, Georgia, saw a drop in its year-over-year waste diversion rate, Peels stepped in to turn those numbers around. Leading the effort to separate recyclable materials from regular waste, the Cumming location saw an impressive increase in keeping waste out of the landfill. Peels also set an example in data collection and analysis to keep the plant's sustainability goals on track.TJ Jenkins and Todd WinsteadJenkins and Winstead represent the TPO team at the Mt. Vernon manufacturing plant. Working together, they used their knowledge and experience in the TPO manufacturing process to help earn the plant's recycled content certifications. They also found a way to divert calcium chloride from local landfills and continue to work closely with the sustainability team to support waste diversion efforts.Sustainability PromiseGAF is committed to "Protect What Matters Most," and that includes people, communities, and the planet. Its sustainability promise is an opportunity to invest in a healthy future for everyone. Learn more about that commitment in its sustainability report.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

April 11, 2024

Community Matters GAF Employees and Volunteers
In Your Community

2023 Social Impact: GAF Roofing

As industry leaders, we have a responsibility to use our expertise and resources to leave our communities and our planet better than we found it. We are making strategic investments to achieve our goals and have made great progress in partnership with our employees, non-profit partners and contractors. Visit to learn more and join our efforts.

By Authors GAF Roof Views

December 12, 2023

A colorful sports court designed with colorful shapes.
In Your Community

The Importance of Safe, Quality Sports Courts

Longtime fixtures of playgrounds and recreational areas, sports courts have a lot to offer. In addition to providing opportunities for children and adults to participate in physical activities, they can strengthen communities. There are also other benefits when courts are designed to reduce surface temperatures and protect substrate materials.Here's a comprehensive look at the benefits of safe, quality sports courts and the impact innovative pavement coatings can have.Current Challenges with Outdoor CourtsSports court coatings were developed to help address challenges faced at many levels. By enhancing courts' durability and design, communities are provided with tangible solutions that address many of these challenges.Increasing TemperaturesClimate change and the heat island effect in urban areas—where hard surfaces like pavement absorb and retain the sun's heat—have led to higher temperatures, potentially affecting the amount of time people can spend outside. Solutions such as building covered structures can be expensive and require a lengthy design and construction process. Planting trees and other landscaping for shade is effective but can take years to develop.Shrinking BudgetsAt the same time, many schools, municipalities, and community organizations have reduced budgets. Play areas are often seen as inconsequential to curriculum, and it can be easy to defer upgrades or repairs.This has caused facilities to put construction plans on hold and instead search for ways to reduce maintenance costs while extending the useful life of their outdoor equipment and paved surfaces. Staff are tasked with providing options for outdoor activities without investing in expensive equipment or major site renovations.Growing Health ConcernsIn response to these environmental and financial challenges, children have been experiencing less outdoor time and lower physical activity levels. This has been found to play a factor in obesity and mental health. Additionally, regular physical activity for students leads to increased concentration and focus, improved attendance and behavior, and boosts academic performance.Outdoor play is a great way to get physical activity, form relationships, and work through difficulties. In fact, the American Red Cross recommends using play to help children manage their emotions. Many studies have shown the value of structured and unstructured play for children, reporting it helps build social skills and encourages creativity.4 Benefits of Pavement Coatings for Outdoor Sports CourtsSports court surface coatings can address these challenges while providing additional benefits.1. Space FlexibilityTraditional playground equipment or court markings can limit the outdoor space's use. With a rich palette of colorful coatings and designs, pavement coatings can provide opportunities for a variety of activities.For example, four square courts can be embedded in traditional basketball court areas, or unique designs can spark imagination, allowing children to create their own games. Providing both children and adults with fewer constraints in how a space is used can help foster creativity and encourage new forms of exercise and play.Some durable, next-gen pavement coatings may even offer opportunities to create courts that can stand up to vehicular traffic for increased flexibility, providing the ability to turn a court into overflow parking or turning excess parking into a multi-court surface.2. Lower CostsDurable pavement coatings can help reduce maintenance costs, by protecting asphalt and cement from damage, which can reduce cracks and extend the usable life of the asphalt or cement substrate. Additionally, coatings may cost less to install than resurfacing or purchasing new equipment.3. Temperature BenefitsHardscape surfaces absorb heat, which can increase the air temperature near the surface. By incorporating lighter-colored or solar reflective surface coatings, more heat can be reflected off the surface, reducing the temperature of the surface and potentially, the air temperature near the surface. This can result in cooler outdoor spaces for children and adults to play, which may increase the amount of time they can engage in physical activity.4. Increased Activity LevelsStudies have shown that creative outdoor play spaces can help increase activity levels and engagement, especially when the surface temperature of the play area has been reduced. An initiative in Boston, which included creating varied outdoor play courts, led to increased physical activity, improved student behavior, and stronger community relationships. In Los Angeles, similar projects led to a 4% gain in the number of students obtaining an hour or more of physical activity per day and a 7.9% decrease in the number of students considered overweight.How Court Coatings Encourage PlaySchool may be the only opportunity children have to engage in physical activity, sports, and general play. Reports have repeatedly shown that play patterns can change significantly when colorful coatings are used.These coatings can help encourage structured activities and games, like four square or hopscotch, or provide the basis for unstructured activities, such as drawing the school logo or a mural. Students can also learn through these surfaces when the pavement is painted with maps or planets. These coatings can have social benefits as well. Playgrounds with a variety of play options may also lead to decreased injuries and an increase in game participation.How StreetBond® Can HelpWhen assessing whether to add or transform a hardscape into a sports court, look at three main factors: budgets, safety and health concerns, and the value of play.StreetBond® pavement coatings can help schools and community organizations transform their hardscapes into robust play areas while meeting their budget constraints. Coatings can help reduce surface temperatures, protect surfaces, and encourage more creative play, helping communities get healthier while learning to work and live together. Visit the StreetBond® website to explore available products, or email to get support and discuss specific projects.

By Authors Dawn Killough

November 17, 2023

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!

Subscribe now