How You Can Reduce Local Water Pollution

You have more of an impact on local water pollution than you might think. Residences generally exist in a watershed, so any runoff from your home will eventually drain into the local waterways. 

A creek running through a wooded area, with grass and shrubs growing along the banks.

A watershed is a land area that drains into a specific natural waterway, such as a stream, river, or lake. Watersheds come in all sizes, and smaller watersheds may, themselves, drain into larger ones. Streams, for example, usually flow into rivers or lakes. 

Some water soaks into the ground, but a lot of local water pollution comes from runoff. Runoff occurs when rain or other precipitation flows off a roof, driveway, or road and into a storm drain. Storm drains typically lead to natural bodies of water. 

Excess water from lawns or fields likewise enters storm drains. Runoff carries whatever substances it comes into contact with, including pollutants, into the storm drains and, eventually, to the natural waterways. 

Nutrient pollution is a significant problem related to runoff. It occurs when excessive amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients usually used for fertilizer enter local waterways through runoff points. 

Nutrient pollution leads to eutrophication, which is the over-growing of algae. This issue alters aquatic ecosystems and lowers water quality. 

What can the owners of homes, businesses, and fields do to prevent nutrient pollution and other local water quality problems? 

Beware of Pesticide Use

Pesticides can contaminate water in two major ways. Chemicals that you apply to a lawn, garden, or farm field can drain into waterways via a runoff system. They can also soak into the ground, enter the water table, and find their way into streams or the water supply. 

These chemicals are toxic to bugs and weeds, but they are also poisonous to humans and animals. 

What can homeowners do? One option is to use organic, non-toxic pesticides. Another is to use alternative pest control practices, such as hand weeding, planting flowers or trees that do not attract pests or else attract beneficial insects and predators (as a natural pest control option), or using agriculture methods such as contour farming and crop rotation.  

Prevent Soil Erosion

Soil erosion isn’t only bad for farming and landscaping; it also changes waterways. 

Eroded soil washes into storm drains as sediment. When this sediment runs into waterways, it can choke aquatic life, increase water temperature, and introduce any pollutants and bacteria that it contains. 

There are a few ways to prevent soil erosion. A well-kept lawn with plenty of perennial plants or trees can hold the soil in place. You can put mulch, wood chips, or landscaping stones in unplanted areas to combat erosion and assist efficient runoff. 

Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition

You also need to look beyond your lawn. Cars that leak fluids, for example, contribute to water pollution. The oil or antifreeze gets washed down storm drains and into waterways, where they prove toxic to aquatic life. 

To prevent this type of pollution, you can regularly check your car for leaks and place drip pans to collect them where they do occur. 

Also, you should never pour fluids, including oil and antifreeze, into storm drains or on the ground. Most areas have recycling centers that accept used oil and antifreeze, as well as car batteries and other potentially toxic fluids. 

Collect Runoff

Rainwater won’t stay on your roof or driveway. Instead, it will run off into storm drains. On the way, it collects pollutants and sediment and carries them into the waterways. To prevent this issue and to avoid erosion and other potential pollution, you can try collecting the runoff from your roof. 

Consider installing a rain barrel and making sure your roof has a proper gutter system to deliver water to the barrel. A gutter update may be affordable and convenient when you undergo a roof replacement

A professional roofing contractor will be able to handle this project to meet your specifications. 

You should also make any necessary repairs to your roof to ensure proper drainage into rain barrels or onto permeable garden areas where the runoff can soak into the soil instead of entering storm drains. 

Be Careful During Construction

The main water pollution problem related to construction has to do with sediment rather than toxic chemicals. This is known as sediment pollution, and large construction can be a major contributor. Dirt, sand, and other types of deposits get disturbed or moved during building projects. They can easily wash into waterways in large amounts.

Construction companies can ensure that there are buffers of vegetation that can catch sediment and separate it from runoff water. They can also remove dirt and sand from the site so that it does not wash into the drainage system. Commercial roofers and other contractors can manage the waste created by their projects so that it does not contribute additional sediment into the watershed.

Clean Up After Your Pets or Livestock

Pet and livestock waste can affect water quality in two major ways. First, it can contribute to nutrient pollution by increasing the growth of algae. 

Additionally, pet waste can transfer various pathogens that might be harmful to humans and other animals. Bacteria or diseases could enter the water system and water supply via runoff or soaking into the ground. 

The easiest way to avoid this issue is to pick up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash can. You can maintain grass or plant buffers that remove livestock waste from runoff water before it enters the drainage system. 

Dispose of Waste Properly

The garbage you generate in your household or business can easily find its way into waterways. The same applies to liquids that you flush or pour down your drain. 

You can dispose of oils, fats, and food-based liquids in the trash, rather than pouring them down the drain. You can also take household chemicals to a recycling center rather than dispose of them via your drain or toilet. 

You may also consider using organic waste, such as vegetable peels, as compost instead of throwing it in the trash. Recycling plastics and metals is an excellent way to keep them from entering a landfill, where they could leech into the groundwater. 

Maintain Your Septic Tank

If improperly maintained, your septic tank can be a significant contributor to nutrient pollution via its drain field (the system of perforated pipes that deliver the waste to the surrounding soil for breakdown by bacteria). 

To maintain your septic tank, you need to have it serviced every two to five years. Also, you can avoid using your sewage system to dispose of household waste unnecessarily. 

Carefully Manage Private Streams and Ponds

Private streams and ponds are part of the watershed, and they will eventually end up flowing into larger waterways. Any water pollution issues, such as nutrient pollution, that affect your private ponds will eventually spread to larger bodies of water. 

The use of vegetation around your property’s water feature to create a riparian zone can stop nutrient pollution and sediment buildup. Such vegetation can also catch sediment as it drains out of your waterways and into other parts of the watershed. 

Be Aware of Your Local Ecosystem

Your local ecosystem may have specific vulnerabilities, unique animal or plant populations, or particular drainage patterns. You can take these things into account when making a plan for managing your contribution to water pollution. 

Sustainable Home Architecture Options

Sustainable housing provides benefits in terms of the environment, energy consumption, and utility costs.

House window with worn down cedar shake roof shingles

Green homes offer advantages to the community because it causes fewer carbon emissions, thereby reducing air pollution. Also, these houses do not cause undue strain on the local power grid because they operate efficiently. 

In addition to reducing energy costs for the homeowner, sustainable homes often present extra perks such as improved indoor air quality, a higher level of comfort, and, in some cases, increased property value. 

Individual homeowners can enjoy these benefits, but the same positives can also help landlords lower operations costs and make a rental property more attractive to people seeking an environmentally friendly place to live. 

Here is a closer look at the options for sustainable residential architecture.


Cargotecture is the use of shipping containers as dwellings. These 20- and 40-foot boxes have long been a temporary housing option in oil fields and the armed forces. Over the past few decades, architects have started taking advantage of containers’ structural reliability and customizability to make more-permanent homes. 

What are the pros and cons of cargotecture?


  • They use recycled cargo containers, so they do not need as many building materials and are more environmentally friendly. 
  • Because the structure is already in place, building a cargo home is quick compared to a traditional house. 
  • They are incredibly sturdy and safe. 
  • Many designs are modular, which means you can add or subtract elements easily. 


  • Cargo container homes may not meet local building and zoning requirements. 
  • You need to take extra steps to connect to utility systems. 
  • You may be limited in terms of size and layout. 

Modern cargotecture usually involves stacking and joining multiple shipping containers together. This trend allows owners to get the size and layout of a traditional home while also enjoying the advantages of building with containers. 

Cargotecture has made its way into the commercial property market. For example, in Amsterdam, a student housing development called Keetwonnen consists of a stack of modified containers that serve as apartments. 

Prefabricated Homes

Prefabricated homes are houses that get built in a factory setting and shipped to the buyer’s location. There are different types of prefabricated homes. 

  • Modular homes consist of different segments. Each component can join with others to create a complete house. When assembling, you can add or subtract these components as needed. 
  • Shipping container homes are houses made with 20- or 40-foot shipping containers. Some of these houses are modular and include two or more containers joined together.
  • Kit homes have parts assembled in a factory. The pieces make up a kit, which gets shipped to the construction site and put together. With these homes, you do not have to worry about wasting excess materials. 
  • Panel homes consist of exterior and frame components. These panels come from a factory, but all interior work occurs onsite. 

There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to prefabricated homes. 


  • Prefab homes limit waste because builders follow a pre-set pattern in a controlled environment. This is good for the environment and your wallet. 
  • Construction time is quicker than for a traditional home. 
  • Because of the factory setting, limited waste, and quick onsite construction, prefab homes are cheaper than traditional peers. 
  • Prefabs are usually energy-efficient because the components get joined together in an airtight way. 


  • Though these homes are cheaper, you have to pay to transport them to the building site. Also, you may have to pay extra to have utilities hooked up to your home.
  • Design options are limited to the products offered by a builder. 
  • The cost of a prefab home does not include the land, which you need to purchase separately. 

Tiny Homes

Tiny homes are extremely small houses. Almost all are less than 500 square feet, and some are significantly smaller than that. Because of their modest size, these homes are cheaper to build, and utility costs are very low. 

The common denominator for all tiny homes is their diminutive stature. These houses come in many different styles. Some resemble traditional dwellings or log cabins, while others are portable and stand on wheels. 


  • A tiny home can generate 14 times less carbon than a typical home. These houses produce minimal pollution. 
  • Tiny houses are cheaper than traditional homes and can make house ownership a reality for people who would otherwise have to rent. 
  • Tiny homes are often portable, so you are not confined to one place. 


  • The interior area is extremely limited. Tiny homes present challenges for families and those in need of space for storage. 
  • You need to purchase or rent the land. Though tiny homes are cheap, you need to have a place to put them. This cost is in addition to the price of the house itself.  
  • You may need to take extra steps, such as pouring a foundation or hooking the home up to utilities. 


Earthships are off-the-grid homes that maximize environmental friendliness and minimize reliance on outside services. The structures use passive solar heating and ventilation instead of automated climate control systems, and they include systems that make activities such as recycling and composting extremely easy. 

Earthships also often have self-contained sewage treatment and water collection systems. 


  • Passive solar heating, self-contained sewage treatment, and other features limit the cost of utilities. 
  • The simple design of these structures can make them cheap to build and maintain. 
  • Because they use recycled, repurposed, or sustainable materials, Earthships are very eco-friendly. 


  • You may need to pay architects and engineers to design customized systems to meet your needs. Earthships may not be the cheapest option on the market. 
  • You may need to install backup systems to kick in when passive systems are not providing the ideal temperature. 
  • These homes are difficult to resell, so they do not offer the same type of investment opportunity as traditional homes. 


Passivhaus (German for “passive house”) is a building designed to use as little energy as possible. Institutions in different parts of the world create different standards for passive houses, with the most important being the Passivhaus standards from Germany.  

A passive house could, for example, use a metal roof to reflect sunlight and reduce passive heating. 

In most cases, a Passivhaus uses window treatments, blinds, ventilation, skylights, and other design features to regulate interior climates without using minimal outside energy. You could gain some of the benefits of a passive house by replacing your roof or windows.  


  • Passivhaus designs minimize utility costs. 
  • Since you do not need much energy to heat or cool the home, passive houses are very environmentally-friendly.
  • The standard includes a comfort requirement. A true Passivhaus will remain comfortable year-round. 


  • Including design elements that allow for passive heating and cooling can be expensive. 
  • A Passivhaus design may not account for very cold or hot days. 
  • A Passivhaus may not be possible in certain parts of the world or specific locations depending on climate and shade or sunlight on any given property. 

Green Roofs and Living Walls

Green roofs and living walls consist of standard building elements covered with plant life. Green roofs are exterior features, and while green walls can be outside, they are usually interior features. 

These installations can reduce energy costs, provide natural air purification, increase humidity in dry environments, and brighten interior spaces. Some architects may also include these elements for aesthetic reasons. 

Prominent examples of green roofs include the Chicago City Hall and Vancouver Convention Centre, and green walls are prevalent in some parts of the world, such as Taipei, Taiwan. However, these features are also possible at a smaller scale in residential homes. 

A green roof requires a sturdy roof structure. You will need to have a roofing professional inspect your home to ensure that it can withstand the weight of soil and plants. You’ll need to make repairs if necessary. 

You can create a green roof relatively easily by installing rows of growing trays and planting hardy species like sedum. 

A green wall can be as simple as building a structure to hold plant life and placing it next to an interior wall. You can use creeping plants, such as ivy so that the installation requires less soil.

Compact Design

Compact designs are often better in terms of energy efficiency because it is cheaper to heat, cool, and light smaller areas. Smaller homes often require less maintenance because there are fewer installations to fix and less area to clean. 

These designs are green because they limit energy consumption, but they are also green because they require less material when built. You can make modular homes more compact or build walls or barriers in existing homes to divide existing rooms rather than adding new ones. 

Sustainable Housing Materials

In many cases, the best and most practical sustainable home option is simply to make a traditional home using sustainable materials. You will need to discuss the use of specific materials with a contractor or roofer before starting construction. 

What are the best sustainable materials?

  • Bamboo is very sustainable because it grows quickly. It is strong, durable, and flexible, and ideal for use in flooring, walls, and interior trim. 
  • Timber can be sustainably harvested and used both on the interior and exterior. Reclaimed or recycled timber can work for non-load-bearing interior elements. 
  • Adobe, cob, and mudbrick are historic building materials that are still useful today, though they typically need reinforcement to serve as exterior walls for dwellings. 
  • Recycled metals can serve as structural components of a home. Recycled steel, for example, can work as beams in a home. 

Solving the Problem of the Urban Heat Island Effect on an Individual Level

The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect causes the air temperature to be higher in city centers than in surrounding rural areas. In some cases, the temperature difference can be extreme. As an example: a city of one million people can have a temperature that is as much as 5.4 degrees warmer than the surrounding rural zones. 

An urban residential sector, with the sun just setting on the horizon, and the streets glowing with green and yellow lights as darkness falls.

Several different factors contribute to this problem, but asphalt is a significant heat source in urban areas. Asphalt surfaces, on roads and roofs, absorb warmth and create a radiating effect that releases it back into the surrounding areas, increasing the ambient temperature. 

Urban and suburban areas continue to grow, necessitating more roads and roofs. This expanding heat island leads to more energy consumption as people try to cool their homes and buildings. The reliance on air conditioning can strain the energy grid and increase carbon output, which causes global warming.  

As cities and suburbs develop, UHI problems grow as well. However, home and business owners can take steps to overcome this human-made issue. 

1. Light-Colored Building Materials

One of the primary causes of the urban heat island is the absorption of heat by dark asphalt surfaces. Lighter-colored materials do not absorb heat in the same manner. Instead, they reflect sunlight. Therefore, lighter surfaces do not create the same radiating effect as darker surfaces. 

Studies have shown that white-colored materials absorb the least heat, and lighter-colored non-white materials follow close behind. Cement and bricks have a higher thermal mass. They do absorb heat but release it very slowly. Therefore, they remain relatively cool compared to other materials, such as dark-colored asphalt. 

Roofs with vinyl or ceramic shingles or metal roofs also have reflective properties. A professional roofing contractor can tell you which of these options will work the best in your climate. 

2. Green Roofs

A green roof contains plant life. Some famous buildings, including Chicago City Hall, have foliage instead of shingles. These installations are also possible on smaller commercial and residential buildings. 

Because they provide shade and do not absorb heat, green roofs are much cooler than conventional ones. According to the EPA, green roofs can be as much as 30 to 40 degrees cooler than traditional roofs. 

Small commercial and residential buildings can have green roofs made from hardy plants growing in trays in two to four inches of soil. Though these roofs do not require much maintenance, you need to ensure that your structure is strong enough to support the extra weight. 

A roofing contractor can inspect the roof and make repairs if necessary. They can also put down a layer of protection against moisture buildup. 

3. Cool Roofs

A cool roof has reflective properties that keep it from absorbing heat. These roofs can be beneficial when it comes to combating the urban heat island effects. They can also help lower energy costs within a building. 

There are different types of cool roofs. Some rely on reflective shingles to avoid heat absorption. Others use metal because of its reflective properties. Some roofers rely on reflective paint or spray-on membranes that reduce solar heat gain. 

According to the US Department of Energy, cool roofs can help combat the UHI effect by avoiding the solar heat gain associated with traditional asphalt shingles. The DoE also suggests that the lower temperature on the roof itself can increase its lifespan. 

While roof replacement is an option for upgrading to a cool roof, there are also options for applying a coating or glaze to the existing structure to enhance its reflective properties. 

4. Plants

Trees, plants, and other vegetation can help combat the urban heat island effect. Trees can provide shade and keep the sun from reaching the asphalt on roads and rooftops. Additionally, this shade can decrease cooling costs for your home. 

Home and business owners can plant shade-producing trees that lower the chances of solar heat gain on their roofs and driveways, but they should not ignore other types of foliage. 

The process of transpiration can also reduce heat. Transpiration is when plants release water vapor back into the atmosphere through their leaves. This phenomenon is common in rural areas covered by vegetation, but less common in cities with fewer plants. 

Property owners can increase the amount of foliage on their land and increase the amount of transpiration that takes place. 

5. Green Pavement

According to the EPA, regular pavement can reach temperatures of up to 150 degrees during the summer. When you understand that pavement covers 30% to 45% of the land in many cities, you can see why the temperature difference between urban and rural areas can be significant. 

Green pavement products are still in the early stages of development. Some studies have shown the effectiveness of reflective concrete, concrete with reflective paint or glaze, or unique porous pavement. 

Though sometimes less practical, replacing pavement with gravel or grass is possible in some situations. Property owners can remove unused paved areas and replace them with vegetation or grass.

6. Energy-Efficient Appliances

Energy-efficient appliances can lower the strain on the electrical grid during hot weather. Air conditioners are the obvious candidates for efficiency upgrades, but you can also consider refrigerators and lighting fixtures. 

The EPA’s Energy Star program lists appliances that meet the strictest efficiency standards. 

Purchasing Energy Star appliances can reduce power consumption and utility costs. They can also help reduce the UHI effect. 

Air conditioners make air cooler inside, but they increase heat output outside. Depending on their power source, the energy needed to run an air conditioning unit also generates heat. The higher the efficiency, the less heat an appliance produces directly and indirectly.     

7. Reducing Air Pollution

Air pollution and urban heat island effects go hand in hand. Smog, particles, and other forms of pollution can intensify the heat and lower overall air quality. 

Energy consumption and auto emissions are significant culprits when it comes to urban pollution. Driving a more fuel-efficient car, relying on public transportation, or walking and biking when possible can help reduce your contribution to your area’s pollution. 

Energy-efficient appliances, such as those with Energy Star certification, can reduce the carbon footprint of your home overall by lowering the amount of energy needed to operate your home. 

How Innovative Building Designs Improve Structural Resistance

Natural disasters of some form or other affect nearly every populated region on earth. While the exact nature of the threat can vary from harsh winds to tremors in the ground, construction designs and technology have evolved to mitigate the potential fallout from natural disasters and increase structural survivability. Building codes that prescribe these innovations are a vital part of ensuring the public remains safe, even during a natural disaster.

Learn more about the structural safety innovations designed for several common natural disasters.

Lines of multicolored triangular flags stretch between buildings on two sides of a small, fast-moving river filled with rocks and rapids.


Earthquakes can cause buildings to shake, which may collapse the foundation or induce wall cracks, and can compromise the structural integrity and safety of buildings even when they remain standing afterward. When buildings shake uncontrollably, furniture and other heavy items may also collapse, causing potentially serious harm to inhabitants.

One structural solution is to install seismic shock absorbers within the building’s foundation to help lessen the impact of the shaking ground on the building’s walls. Engineers are also experimenting with installing pendulums in tall buildings to help the structure shift its weight as needed when the earth moves. 

In Japan, about 9,000 structures have been built with a rubber foundation, called a base isolator, to avoid a collapse in the event of an earthquake. When earthquakes strike, buildings with these rubber foundations experience less damage and don’t collapse like structures without this upgrade. In the U.S., only a few buildings are equipped with this technology.


Severe storms and other natural disasters can lead to destructive flooding, an issue for coastal homes. Engineers have already implemented upgraded designs for coastal homes around the world to prevent water damage, including building homes on stilt or pier foundations. These raised foundations do help keep homes safe from rising waters. 

If builders in flood-prone areas opt for ground-level construction, they may also only design these homes with the garage or storage unit on the first level. The ground level is built using breakaway walls, which break from the structure at the first signs of high water pressure. 

This allows water to flow through the structure freely instead of rising and threatening the next story of the home. This also ensures the water pressure doesn’t build up and take away the entire structure.

In the Netherlands, scientists are working on “waterworld homes,” which are floating apartments that can stay on top of high waters. The scientists designed floating hotels and conference centers in the Maldives, which have proven to remain intact, even in rising waters.


Tornadoes generally develop without warning and can tear through neighborhoods, causing structural damage and harming the structural integrity of homes and commercial buildings. Futuristic building materials may be the answer to making buildings and homes more structurally sound during these wind events. 

Wood, concrete, and steel are traditional building materials because they’re sturdy. However, with no flexibility, these materials can snap and break when exposed to the strong winds of a tornado. 

Construction engineers are experimenting with other building materials, including carbon fiber, metal mesh, and Kevlar. Not only do these materials provide some give when the wind gets fierce, but they may also protect occupants from flying shrapnel and debris. 

While it’s been proven that these flexible materials can withstand tornado winds better than traditional mediums, the cost can be a barrier for many commercial builders and homeowners. However, if these materials help save money on roof repairs or replacements, siding repair, and other tornado damages, they may be worth the investment.


Hurricanes are common in coastal areas and generally bring excessive rain and strong winds. Modern building codes require that nails are used where the roof meets the wall to lower the number of roof claims insurance companies receive after a hurricane strikes. 

While this updated code does help ensure roofs stay put during a storm, metal connectors and bracing may be more effective, especially in a strong hurricane. Most newly constructed homes in coastal areas, such as Florida, are equipped with these metal connectors. There are also retrofitting opportunities, including roof clips, that can be added to older homes to improve the roof connection and its ability to withstand the wind.


Landslides generally occur in mountainous areas when rain has caused the ground to become soft and move. In the U.S., landslides cause over $1 billion in damages and 25 to 50 deaths each year. Landslides can cause extensive damage, including:

  • Cracks in the foundation and walls.
  • Wall tilting.
  • Distortions in pillars and other load-bearing structures. 
  • Movement from the foundation.
  • Roof damage in commercial buildings and homes.

Residents rely on strict building codes to ensure their homes are safe from landslides. For example, in Snohomish County, Washington, there are rules on where homes can be built to avoid landslides. 

In 2015, the county expanded its “landslide hazardous area” in an attempt to prevent new construction from being damaged by this natural disaster. If a builder opts to begin a project in this landslide hazardous area, they’re required to follow a set of guidelines that restricts where and how they can build. 

In the Pacific Northwest, residents and builders alike have found that the key to preventing catastrophic damage in a landslide is to prevent consistent erosion from water flow around the property. Avoiding installing permanent irrigation systems on the slope of a property may also minimize damage.


Wildfires generally occur in wooded and dry areas and are spread by wind. California and other wooded states are prone to wildfires in dry seasons. While no building can ever be fire-proof, builders in these wildfire-prone areas are experimenting with sturdier materials to minimize damage. 

Builders are considering building new homes with clay tile roofs and frames made from concrete with reinforced steel. Staying away from wood and other flammable materials may provide families more time to evacuate their homes before the fire causes substantial damage.

Extreme Temperatures

Homeowners waste a lot of energy heating and cooling their homes. With extremely hot and cold temperatures becoming more prevalent, construction engineers are experimenting with technologies to make heating and cooling homes and commercial buildings more efficient, including the following:

  • R25 polyisocyanurate composite insulation material: Unlike standard insulation, these insulation panels are airtight, so they provide a tighter seal and keep hot or cold air inside the home longer.
  • R10 insulated vinyl siding: An upgrade to this type of vinyl siding saves you money on your heating or cooling bill. Scientists are also looking into adding insulation to the siding to ensure the home is even more protected from extreme temperatures.
  • Polymeric Vacuum Insulation Spheres (PVIS): This strong material reduces damage from nail holes and other construction projects, which ensures the home is sealed tight. 
  • Vacuum Glass for R-10 Windows: Vacuum glass windows reduce the amount of heat that is lost from regular windows while also making the home more airtight.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds these experimental projects in the hopes that this technology will soon be available to U.S. home builders and owners dealing with extreme climates.

With the current numbers of natural disasters and climate events, builders, construction engineers, and scientists have dedicated their efforts to finding solutions for homes and commercial buildings. Some of these designs have been implemented globally or domestically while others are still in the experimentation phase.

How You Can Contribute to Local Smart Growth

Smart growth is a land development initiative that attempts to combat the “urban sprawl” that’s become prolific in many areas. By focusing on mixed land-use developments and building more affordable residential opportunities near public transportation hubs, smart growth attempts to save natural land and other resources. 

A bright red train station exterior, with white trim and a single person standing on the street outside.

This land development strategy relies on architects, city planners, business owners, and landowners to be open to compact neighborhoods and repurposing current structures so they’re more useful. While smart growth initiatives promote growth and change, they also avoid gentrification in focused areas. You can improve your area and contribute to smart growth without changing the atmosphere and essence of the neighborhood itself. 

Many initiatives set urban growth boundaries to ensure new construction doesn’t overtake surrounding areas. Smart growth initiatives also focus on beautification to attract new residents and business owners. If you’re interested in becoming involved in smart growth initiatives in your area, review the following information to find out more about volunteering opportunities and other actions you can take to support the cause.

Share Your Building or Land

Mixed land-use is a common strategy for smart growth initiatives. With mixed land-use, one building is used for multiple purposes. A single building may include residential units, retail stores, restaurants, and/or office spaces. 

With mixed land-use, residents can live, work, and recreate in one small area, which avoids the need for transportation. It also makes the community more walkable and bustling, which attracts visitors, residents, and business owners alike.

If you own a commercial building, you may be able to implement the mixed land-use concept. You could rent out space to a clothing boutique downstairs and renovate your third story into a loft apartment. When you put businesses and residents under one roof of a commercial building, you eliminate the need for additional construction in an area. To learn if your building is eligible for mixed land-use, contact your city planning department.

Embrace Compact Living and Working Spaces

In many cases, when a community grows, additional houses are constructed next to each other or shopping centers are erected on unoccupied land. However, a compact building grows when the number of stories is increased, not the amount of land utilized. 

When developers create compact living and working spaces, they generally choose land that’s already been developed and simply add on to existing buildings. Developers may also secure empty lots or those with additional land near another building to construct compact spaces.

As a business owner or resident, embracing the concept of a compact living and working space will help you reinforce smart growth initiatives in your area. When compact building designs are implemented, land is saved and not as many construction materials are used. 

In compact communities, residents find more affordable and convenient housing that doesn’t require as much transportation. Business owners benefit from small offices and retail spaces with lower rent and more foot traffic accessibility.

Contribute to Beautifying Initiatives

There are many ways to beautify your community, including street art, gardening, landscaping, and street lighting improvements. When a community completes beautification projects, it attracts more potential residents and business owners. The more people who live and work within one area, the less need for public transportation and urban sprawl.

If you’re interested in contributing to beautification initiatives in your community, contact your local government office. Most areas already have project leaders and organizations that take on these developments, making it easy to get involved in the next project.

Support Preservation of Natural and Historic Areas

Not only are residents attracted to great places to work and live, but they’re also attracted to communities that are close to beautiful parks and natural areas. To support smart growth initiatives in your community, consider helping with the preservation of natural and historic buildings and areas. 

To assist in the rehabilitation of historic buildings, you could contribute to repairs, such as hiring a roofing contractor to install a new roof or painting the building’s exterior. Natural areas should be kept clean and free from pollution, so you could help by joining a volunteer group that picks up trash in these areas or tends to the wild landscape.

Support Diversity

Communities with diverse residents and businesses are the only way for areas to flourish. With smart growth initiatives, communities can offer various types of housing that may be more affordable and attractive for minorities. The location and convenience of this housing also attract a variety of potential residents and business owners, contributing to a neighborhood’s diversity.

If you want to ensure your community is diverse, consider getting involved in smart growth initiatives that rehabilitate properties to make them more liveable and affordable for potential residents. You could help volunteer groups with interior upgrades or landscaping improvements on current residences to encourage new tenants to move in.

Support Senior Citizens

With urban sprawl and large, expensive home construction, many senior citizens find it financially impossible to continue living in their current communities. Rising home prices and inflation make it hard for these senior citizens to afford to remain in their current homes. 

Since many smart growth initiatives are focused on creating affordable housing within walkable communities, senior citizens may find these innovative areas beneficial. Mixed land-use and compact living spaces also eliminate the need for public transportation and allow for a better quality of life for senior citizens.

When you get involved with smart growth initiatives in your community, you’re helping senior citizens delay or avoid moving away from the communities they call home. Volunteer groups and local contractors may focus on rehabilitating current residential buildings, including replacing the roof or repairing the siding. These improvements allow residents to enjoy their space without paying out of pocket for costly repairs.

As a business owner or resident, you want to see your community thrive. When you help your community implement smart growth initiatives, you’ll save neighboring land, create a bustling downtown environment, and provide more affordable living and working spaces.

How much does a roof replacement cost in Atlanta?

Over time, the covering on your roof will wear out and you’ll be forced to replace it. This is one a the bigger home improvement projects you’ll have to undergo as a homeowner, so it’s important to budget adequately for your roof replacement.

Roof replacement using GAF Camelot shingles in atlanta, GA

There are a variety of things that come into play when you are trying to determine the cost of a new roof, but this article will give you a high-level overview of the costs you might expect.


As you might expect, there are loads of different options when it comes to a new roof. The most common choice in Atlanta is a standard architectural shingle that will last about 30 years and come at a fraction of the cost of other options like metal roofing. You can expect an architectural shingle roof replacement to cost between $2.60-$3.00 per square foot. We’ll discuss what determines exactly where you fall in this pricing range below.

If you’re really looking for a top notch option, slate and cedar shake shingles are among the top of the line options for roof coverings. However, the question of asphalt shingles versus slate or tile is only one component of the cost. What are all the factors you need to take into account when budgeting for a roof replacement?


One of the biggest determinants in the cost of your new roof will be the size of it. As discussed above, it’s common in the roofing industry to price roofs on a “per foot” basis. While you might be tempted to simply thing of size based on the square footage of your home, there are a couple of factors other than your foundation footage that impact roof size. Keep reading to learn more!


The pitch or slope of the roof also affects the price. As this can affect how the job gets done. If it’s a steep pitch that isn’t walkable, crews have to use specialized safety equipment, you can’t stack materials safely so it takes more labor just to transport materials.

As safety is a factor insurance rates are higher for more dangerous roofs and those costs are passed on to the homeowner in the form of higher costs.


When a roof is being installed, every time there is an edge or change in facets, a small amount of shingles will be wasted because they have to be cut to the perfect size. A very simple roof might have as little as 7% waste, while an extremely complex roof structure can have waste up to 30%. The more waste there is, the higher the cost of your roof replacement.


Next to size, the type of materials you choose for your roof replacement will be one of the biggest determinants in cost. Here are some of the average atlanta roof replacement material costs (all include installation and accessories):

  • 3-tab Asphalt Shingles: $2.50-$2.70 per square foot
  • Architectural Asphalt Shingles: $2.70-$3.00 per square foot
  • Designer Asphalt Shingles: $3.25-$5.00 per square foot
  • Standing Seam Metal: $7-$9 per square foot
  • Slate Or Cedar Shingles: $10+ per square foot
Roof replacement using Certainteed Landmark shingles in Alpharetta, GA


The condition of your current roof may have an impact on the cost of your roof replacement. It’s common in Atlanta for roofers to charge a relatively small fee for rotten wood replacement that isn’t visible until the old roof covering is removed.

The condition of the flashings on your home may have an impact on the cost of your new roof. Metal typically has a life of 50+ years, but if you own an older house, it’s possible that the metal flashings on the roof will need to be replaced. This is typically an additional charge among Atlanta roofing companies.

This should give you a full picture of the budgeting considerations if you’re getting close to needing a new roof. However, to get an exact estimate of how much your roof will cost, it’s best to schedule a free estimate today.

Are metal roofs better?

metal roofing green roof

Durable metal roof

Metal roofing isn’t just for old barns and storage sheds anymore! Why? Homeowners have discovered the benefits of metal roofing versus asphalt shingled roofing. The benefits they are finding to be worth the expense of metal roofing are: 

  1. The old roof doesn’t have to be torn off before installing metal roofing
  2. Metal roofing is a lighter material
  3. Metal roofing is more energy efficient
  4. Metal roofing has little required maintenance
  5. Metal roofing installation earns a tax credit
  6. Metal roofing is fire resistant and earns insurance discounts
  7. Metal roofing is more durable and weather-resistant than asphalt shingles
  8. Most metal roofing sheets are made from recycled metal and are recyclable at the end of roof life
  9. Metal roofing has a longer warranty than asphalt shingles
  10. Home has a higher resale value with metal roofing because of these benefits

What is the best color for a metal roof?

It surprises most people to find out that metal roofing has unlimited color options today. Gone are the days when the only choices for aluminum, steel, or tin metal roofing were dark gray or reddish-brown.

Copper metal roofing is a material that is a color all its own, including the patina green it acquires as it ages. All colors eventually fade, but copper undergoes the most drastic change as it oxidizes. Over twenty years, the appearance will change significantly.

Some metal roofing factories add color there so that it is baked onto the metal material. Any metal roofing company you choose to work with can explain this to you in more detail and talk to you about painting the roof after it has been installed. Things you want to keep in mind about metal roofing colors are:

  • The pigment: the color or hue.
  • The resin: the surface appearance.
  • The solvent: the evaporating liquid part of the paint.
  • The fading: this relates to the pigment and can change as the elements interact with moisture and UV rays.
  • The chalking: this is the whitish appearance that builds up metal roofing over time. 

Remember, muted tones won’t fade as fast as pure colors on metal roofing. The quality of the paint will determine how quickly the paint fades or becomes chalky, and choosing lighter color reflect the sun and dark color absorb heat. 

Does a metal roof need gutters?

The purpose of gutters is to funnel water off the roof and away from the structure. They prevent damage to the foundation from rain, sleet, or snow, which left to puddle up around the foundation can cause severe damage to the property. So, strictly speaking, no, your metal roofing does not require gutters, but the foundation of your house and the landscaping around will be protected with a gutter system installed. 

Can you walk on a metal roof? 

Have you heard that you cannot walk on metal roofing? Well, whoever told you that was misinformed, because, depending on the style you choose, you can walk on metal roofing. You can walk on metal roofing with a less likely chance of damaging the roof than with ceramic tiles. Repeated foot traffic will cause damage to asphalt roofing before it will metal roofing. Even fifty years down the road, your metal roofing will hold up to foot traffic.            

red metal roof

What maintenance is required for a metal roof?

Most homeowners choose metal roofing for durability and minimal maintenance features. Where asphalt shingles come loose in the winds and wood shakes split as they age, metal roofing doesn’t damage easy, remaining reliable, steady, and sturdy. 

Metal roofing still needs maintenance and proper care. Here are some tips that experts have told us in metal roofing:

  • Keep Trees Off Metal Roofing: Constant rubbing by tree branches and limbs will damage the finish, loosen the fasteners, and If heavy enough, branches can dent metal roofing. 
  • Keep Debris Cleared Off Metal Roofing: Allowing debris to build up on metal roofing will damage the finish, and as it decomposes, it ruins the finish. Twice a year, using a brush on a long handle with a water hose, clear the debris off, the same time gutter cleaning is done. 
  • Minimize Foot Traffic: Minimize the amount of foot traffic on your metal roofing, but if there is a need for our HVAC technician, an electrician or plumber must access the roof, advise them when you schedule your appointment so they can plan accordingly.  
  • Avoid Mixing Other Metals with Your Metal Roofing: Some types of roofing materials don’t mix well, like aluminum roofing or copper roofing.  
  • Fix or Replace Fasteners: With your monthly metal roofing inspections, if you notice any loose or missing fasteners or screws, tighten, or use the same material to replace them. Make any repairs for holes and separations that you find while taking care of the fasteners.
  • Reseal If Needed: The sealant used on metal roofing will last longer than sealant on other roofing materials, but this needs to be check after each storm or once the snow melts. 

Does having a metal roof lower your insurance?

With most homeowner’s insurance policies, yes, there is a discount for having metal roofing. Before you invest in having a metal roofing installed, check with your agent, and if they don’t offer a discount, or it doesn’t seem to be enough, call around for quotes. 

Metal roofing has had the reputation of being noisy.  With professional installation, metal roofing with insulation today, it as quiet as an asphalt shingle roofing. The benefits of energy efficiency and the style your home will have will be worthwhile. Call (678) 365-3138 today for your metal roofing installation.

Atlanta Roofing Specialists – So many choices, how to choose?

We live in a time when there are SOOOO many options. Whether it’s choosing what to eat for dinner, picking a show on Netflix, or choosing one of the many Atlanta roofing specialists, we are constantly bombarded with endless options, so we wanted to take a moment to point out what we focus on as one of those Atlanta roofing specialists in hopes that it’ll melt those other “options” away. 😉

Atlanta roofing specialists working on residential roof replacement in Cumming, GA

There are three main components to our customer promise:

  1. Dedication to Quality:

Our workmanship is top among all Atlanta roofing specialists. Don’t believe us? Take a look at what says and our Google reviews! The most important aspect of a roof replacement or roof repair is that our customer is thrilled with the service we provided. That’s why Quality is our #1 priority on every job.

2. Trust:

We believe trust is one of the foundational components of any relationship, so as the top Atlanta roofing specialists, we take every step we can to make sure our customers trust the insights and work we provide. Whether it’s our certifications, our safety procedures, or our fully insured and licensed crews, you can trust that we have you in mind.

3. Value:

We’ve vetted all of the major manufacturers products and make sure to give you the best value options for your property. There is no one-size-fits-all in roofing, so we custom tailor the shingle options we present and maintain consistent pricing from customer to customer. You can think of us as the “Carmax” of roofing. No haggling, with great value.

As Atlanta roofing specialists, we know how expensive a new roof can be. That’s why we offer customers a variety of payment options and various tiers of shingles in order to meet the exact needs of your property.

Colony Roofers are the Atlanta roofers you can trust. We offer a full range of residential and commercial services. Find out how we can help by calling (678)-365-3138.

How Do Insurance Roof Claims Work?

A Contractor Documents Hail Damage.

How insurance roof claims work

The roof insurance claim process can seem stressful, especially if you are worried about an expensive roof repair or how much it will cost you to replace your roof. As stressful as it may be, the process isn’t quite as complicated as it seems, especially when you have an experienced roofer like Colony Roofers providing help with the claim. In fact, the claim process often begins with you getting an estimate for the repairs from a reputable roofer with insurance experience. 

Once you have an estimate, you can file a claim with your insurance company. The insurance company will weigh various factors when determining exactly what they will pay out on the claim. In many instances, your roof’s age will play a big role in what’s paid out. Any roof that’s over 10 years old might get less coverage than a new roof, if your roof has not been well maintained. Keeping your roof maintained can be a key to good coverage if the time ever comes when you need to file an insurance claim.

What caused the damage will also affect the claim’s status. Insurers only cover damage listed under covered perils. These are events like storms or fires or even vandalism that cause damage out of your control. If your roof repair is necessary because you have neglected to maintain your roof, your claim will probably be denied. Policies will vary and it is best to check with the insurer to find out exactly what is covered in your policy. If you ever need roof insurance claims help in Atlanta, GA, Colony Roofers has years of experience dealing with insurance companies and making sure homeowners get the full benefit of their policies. When you need help with any roofing service, give us a call at (678) 365-3138.

Should I make an insurance claim on my roof?

If you need roof repairs or replacement, you’ll have to take into careful consideration whether to file a claim or not. Frequently filing claims can affect your premiums as well as the amount paid out on a claim. You may even risk getting your policy voided. You should avoid filing a claim if the estimated repair amount doesn’t meet or exceed your deductible, it’s better to pay out of pocket. If the repairs are due to normal wear and tear or lack maintenance on your part, you are better off not filing a claim. Insurers normally only cover damage caused by covered perils such as hail damage. It’s also best not to file a claim if you’ve filed one in the past three years as your insurer might void your policy if you file too many claims in one year, and you might have problems getting insurance elsewhere. 

How do I get my insurance to pay for a new roof?

When your roof’s been damaged after a storm has passed through your area, if the damage is severe enough, you might have to get your roof replacement. This can be an expensive proposition because new roofs can cost as much as or more than a new car. When you file a roof insurance claim, you’ll want to make sure everything is in order so they will cover the full cost of a new roof. Make sure you follow these steps:

  • Know exactly what your policy covers. Read over your policy so you’ll understand everything that’s covered.
  • Before you contact your insurance company, document all the damage. This means getting an estimate from a reputable roofer, but you also want to supplement your documentation as much as possible. For instance, after a hailstorm, if you can, take photos of the hailstones. 
  • Research roofers and hire a reputable company like Colony Roofers. Reputable companies will be licensed and insured and will consistently get good reviews from past customers and from trade organizations or groups like the Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure you follow all your insurer’s procedures to file a claim and the procedures to take to file an appeal if the claim is denied.

Roof insurance claim denied

Once you’ve submitted a roof insurance claim, there is always the possibility the claim will be denied. There are several reasons for this. Most often your claim will be denied if the repair costs don’t exceed your deductible or the repair isn’t covered under a covered peril—lack maintenance won’t be covered, for instance. If you’ve filed several claims recently, your claim might be denied as well. 

If your claim is denied, you do have a right to appeal the decision. You’ll have to follow procedures set down by your insurer to file an appeal. You may also want to enlist the help of a roofing company like Colony Roofers that has experience dealing with insurance companies. They can help you get the full benefit of your claim.

Can I cancel a roof insurance claim?

For the most part, once you file a roof insurance claim, you cannot cancel it. It can only be canceled before an adjuster is assigned to it. After an adjuster is assigned, even if the adjuster does not show up, or the insurer doesn’t pay out, the claim can’t be canceled.

What do insurance adjusters look for on roofs?

After you file a roof insurance claim, an adjuster will be assigned to it. The adjuster may then come out and inspect your roof to verify the claim. They will be looking for a variety of things from the age of the roof to whether or not it has been properly installed. They are also going to check for the signs of damage reported. They may feel shingles for dents from hail or look for evidence that shingles have been lifted up from wind damage. They are confirming the damage reported to determine what the insurance company will or will not pay for.

How much does insurance go up after new roof?

Insurance coverage for roofs will vary by insurer and even by region. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance premium might go up or it might not if you have a new roof installed. How much it might go up will vary by insurer. If you’ve filed several over the past few years, the premium is likely to go up more than it would if you’ve only filed one claim. In fact, filing one claim might not cause the premium to go up.

A Tree That's Fallen on a Roof.

Roofing insurance claims for storm damage

When you’ve had a storm damage your roof and need help with your roof insurance claim in Atlanta, GA you’ll want to get that help from a roofing company with insurance experience. Colony Roofers has years of experience helping homeowners get the full benefit of their claims. To find out how we can help you with your insurance claim, give us a call at (678) 365-3138.