Modular Recycled Roofs Help India Beat the Heat

RCS Modular Recycled Roof
July 11, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.

By Cass Jacoby, RCS Reporter.  

These roofs, made of paper waste, can lower the indoor temperature by as much as 18-degrees Fahrenheit.  

In India the temperatures can stay well over 100 degrees for weeks. It can get even hotter under small shacks where thin metal roofs trap heat in. As climate change continues to make the country hotter and air conditioners remain a luxury, one McKinsey report predicted that by the end of the decade, parts of India will be at risk of heat waves that are so extreme that humans may not be able survive outside, even in the shade. But even on a normal hot day, a simple change in the building structure that can lower the temperature makes a world of difference from the people living inside.  

“I kept seeing these roofs which needed change,” Founder and CEO of ReMaterials, Hasit Ganatra, told Fast Company. “When I started the company, I traveled across four states of India, rural areas, urban slums, and spoke to 600 families. We would go to villages and slums and see people spending time outside of their house on summer afternoons, and they’d say, ‘This house is like an oven. We can’t stay inside.’” 

Now, thanks to ReMaterials’ design there is an alternative: the Modroof.   

These modular roofing panels made of paper and wood waste and are deigned to keep homes cooler. The Modroof design uses cardboard waste and natural binders to create a lightweight panel that insulates the home, paired with an air gap inside the panel, the Modroof keeps the heat out.  

The panel also features a waterproof coating that is designed to keep homes dry in monsoons. Where metal roof corrodes and develop holes and concrete roofs develop cracks, these roofs will help keep families and their belongings dry.  

These roofs are easier to install than concrete slabs but remain more expensive than metal sheeting.  The startup has partnered with microfinance companies to offer loans. Their goal is to expand to countries in Africa and South America. “It’s very easy to ship, it’s very easy to install, it’s very easy to repair or maintain,” says Hasit “And we can do everything over a WhatsApp video call—we can get these installed anywhere in the world. We have not gone outside India, but it’s only a matter of time before we do.” 

Over the last few years, the company has installed 500 roofs and plans to install many more.  

Stay up to date with the latest roofing industry news when you sign up for the RCS Week in Roofing e-news. 

Photo Credit: courtesy ReMaterial 

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