Your typical roof keeps the rain out. A Tesla roof turns the top of your house into an energy source. And now the latest roof innovation aims to improve the quality of the air we breathe. You’ve gotta love innovation.
The new smog-reducing roof Granules from 3M will “harness the power of the sun to improve air quality, a first of its kind roof type,” said the company. “The smog-reducing granules are mixed with standard roofing granules allowing shingles to maintain their trusted performance and visual appeal while improving our climate.”
The science behind the product looks like this: The patented granules “contain a photocatalytic coating layer that releases radicals when activated by the sun. The radicals transform smog pollutants into water-soluble nitrate (NO3) ions that simply wash away with rainwater over time.”
That photocatalytic coating was designed to be used with asphalt roofing, which, by some accounts, is used on the roofs of at least 75 percent of homes today.
3M has gone to some length to prove their claim of improved air quality, conducting their own in-house tests and also taking the product to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to have the granules evaluated for their effectiveness in absorbing various gases and pollutants. “They found that an average-sized roof coated in granules removes around as much pollution from the air as three trees could,” said Fast Company. “One company that sources from 3M, Malarkey Roofing, has pledged to incorporate the smog-reducing granules into all of their shingles. So far, Malarkey shingles have pulled the equivalent amount of smog from the air as 100,000 trees.” In fact, Malarkey Roofing Products has announced the inclusion of 3M Smog-reducing Granules to the Highlander NEX laminated architectural roofing shingle line.
For their efforts, 3M was also named to TIME Magazine’s list of Best Inventions of 2018 in the Sustainability & Social Good category.
“Smog-reducing technology, embedded into mainstream roofing materials” are a “great step forward in addressing air quality and climate concerns,” said Jonathan Parfrey, founder and executive director of Climate Resolve, a U.S. non-profit organization “focused on local solutions to global climate change.”
The product could have huge application in the residential roofing market, which has not been as robust as commercial building when it comes to conservation. “Commercial buildings for many years have had solutions such as solar-reflective granules and ‘green roofs,’ which grow grass or gardens on top of buildings to help with the environment,” said the Star Tribune.