Modern Roofing Options

Efficient and Safe

Published on September 6th, 2023

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On August 17, 2023, when wildfire took hold in McDougall Creek near West Kelowna, exceptionally high winds sent embers flying across the lake to rain down on buildings in the Kelowna area. An amazed homeowner who lives six kilometers away from the fire shared a photo of a two-centimeter, burnt piece of bark in her yard. She was grateful it had not landed on her asphalt roof.

By late August of the summer of 2023, wildfires had already burned 150,504 square kilometers or about four percent of the entire forest area of Canada. This is approximately five times the long-term average of 2.54 million hectares (6.3 million acres) for that time of the year. Wildfires burned in all 13 provinces and territories (Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, 2023). 

Given our modern reality, homeowners need to take extra precautions to protect their investment. Consider the following ways to safeguard your existing roof and innovative options when selecting a new roof.


Leaves, pine needles and twigs can collect on a roof to become kindling for embers that may land there. Roofs with a rough texture (e.g., asphalt) make it more likely that debris will collect. Be sure to clean your roof and gutters regularly to reduce the fire risk. 

Trim trees and bushes in your yard to ensure that their branches do not contact your home. 

Safe, efficient roofing options


Metal roofs are non-combustible, low maintenance and long-lasting. These attributes help to mitigate the high, initial cost of a metal roof. This product also offers a range of styles and colours to suit almost any home design. 


Daytime temperatures in urban areas are about 1–7°F (or up to 3.33°C) higher than temperatures in rural areas and nighttime temperatures are about 2–5°F (or up to 1.7°C) higher according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Buildings and roads absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies. In urban areas, where structures are highly concentrated and greenery is minimal, the temperatures are noticeably higher (EPA 2023). 

The heat island effect is nothing new, but it is worsening as more buildings and roads are constructed to accommodate a growing population. 

One simple solution is white roofs that reflect sunlight rather than absorbing it. New York City has introduced rules about white roofs into its building codes and volunteers have painted millions of square feet of dark tar roofing. Chicago has similar initiatives and Los Angeles has even tried painting asphalt roads in light gray paint (Yale Environment 360, 2018). 

When it comes time to replace a roof, consider choosing one in white or pale gray, blue, beige, or green. Because light colours reflect the sun, less heat is absorbed by the home, which reduces cooling costs. 


A roof that is protected by a waterproof membrane, then covered in soil and plants is referred to as a green roof.  When Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) moved into their King Street West location in Toronto, they revamped the 10,000 square foot roof with grasses and wildflowers providing a haven for butterflies and birds. A green roof can do so much more: it offers excellent soundproofing, insulates to save on heating and cooling costs, reduces the heat island effect, extends the lifespan of a roof, and improves air quality. 

The main downside to a green roof is the cost of installation; the weight of the soil requires adequate roof support. Ongoing costs are irrigation and maintenance, although irrigation can easily be automated and clover, alfalfa and most wildflowers will reseed themselves to grow again each spring. 

Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are an innovative product that combines roof shingles and solar cells. These shingles generate electricity that can be used within your home, sent to the power grid and/or saved for later use in a storage battery, depending on the system you select.

Compared to solar panels that are attached to an existing roof, solar shingles are an attractive, integrated option. When Tesla Solar Roof unveiled their test installation several years ago, they offered multiple styles including state and Spanish tile. 

Since Tesla Solar Roof has been slow to roll out in Canada, other companies have stepped up to meet demand. by Shift offers a sleek, integrated solar metal roof suitable for almost any roof style. Installation is similar to a standard metal roof, with the addition of electrical components connected to the home’s electric panel. This Canadian company offers a 10-year warranty on material and a 25-year warranty on power output. 


Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. “Fire Statistics.”  Accessed August 2023. 

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Heat Island Effect.” Published August 16, 2023.

Yale Environment 360. Pearce, F. “Urban Heat: Can White Roofs Help Cool World’s Warming Cities?” Published March 7, 2018.,to%20maintain%20our%20cool%20grows

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