Around my town, I've noted for a while that a lot of homes have roofs that....let's just say they've seen better days. Until a few weeks back, I was ready to attribute this to the economy and the hope to "make it just a few more years" until the roof actually starts leaking. Then I noticed that a large portion of homes in a newer (< 15 years old) neighborhood were this way, and so I asked the roofers who came to one of these homes what was up.
It turns out that when the homes were built, the builder is said to have sold buyers on "environmentally sound" shingles built on a cellulose base instead of a fiberglass base. Over time, as micro-leaks allowed water to get to the cellulose (paper and such), it absorbed water and degraded the shingle--as anyone who ever re-roofed a home with these shingles (they were standard prior to fiberglass shingles) could tell you.
Lessons learned? Well, for starters, as cellulose (paper) production is one of the most polluting things we humans do, it suggests that this is another example of "Environmentalist" meaning "Person who cannot do math or science". (e.g. Al Gore) On the bright side, if indeed these shingles were sold as "environmentally friendly," it suggests that even small town America can be persuaded to do environmentally friendly things without the law forcing them to do so.
Or, alternatively, it means that my neighbors cannot do math and science, or quite possibly (as the "eco-friendly" shingles are simply the older, inferior technology) that the builders were trying to get the houses completed as cheaply as possible.
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