What Would “Green” Restoration and Remodeling Work Look Like?

by James J. Godsil, President, Community Roofing, Inc. I think there are many things that restorationists and remodelers could do to increase the planet-friendly nature of their work. In roofing, for example, I would argue that complete tear-downs and oriented strand board or plywood decking is contrary to the essence of green restoration. Why not leave the cedar shingles in place and avoid using precious wood? I removed several hundred asphalt shingle roofs but left the original cedar shingles in place over my 25-year career as a hands-on roofer on Milwaukee homes. I have watched those roofs perform for more than a decade or two, depending upon when we installed them. Several dozen of them are East Side mansions and mini-mansions on Wahl, Terrace, Lake Drive, Summit, Shepard, Marietta, Hackett, Stowell, Prospect, and so forth. Across the country there are hundreds of acres of trees being cut to provide wood for the redecking of just about every home in America built between 1890 and 1920, before asphalt shingles reached the market place. There are also thousands of young Americans breathing horrible century-long accumulations of dust and pollutants as they tear off the old wood shingles. It would be possible to turn the millions of tons of oil-based asphalt shingles that are to be removed from roofs over the next 50 years into a source of oil for asphalt roads, rather than a source of landfill pollution. This is a process that would probably require a political strategy, although there may be enough money in it to make it happen in the market place. It would be nice to create an e-mail group of remodelers and restorationists to discuss the ways our work can become more friendly to the planet. The above ideas I presented are controversial ones. Most of the public thinks that leaving the cedar in place is “going cheap” rather than “going green.” This is because the manufacturers of ice and water shield underlayment will only guarantee their products when applied directly to the roof deck, rather than applied to the cedar shingles which constitute the base upon which partial removals are nailed. I suspect there are planet friendly concepts in just about all of the remodeling and restoration fields. I would be very eager to help create a network of remodelers and restorationists to discuss these ideas, preferably via e-mail exchanges. I can be reached at or 414-332-1139.
by James J. Godsil, President, Community Roofing, Inc.