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Nike Grind Recycled Roofing for Extreme Weather

Layers of foam and rubber used to insulate and protect flat rooftops in areas with extreme weather changes.

Photo of Emily Richter
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This idea will utilize the waterproof and insulative properties of the Nike Grind materials. The concept of rubber roofing is already used to protect houses and other large buildings from heavy rain and hail, fire, and extreme temperatures. 

Our idea is a low cost, green alternative to rubber roofing. We would start with a layer of foam scraps ground to a consistent 1 inch thickness to insulate the building. The foam would be covered with a rubber sheet. The rubber sheet would be waterproof and keep the inside of the building dry. The sheet would be topped with a thick layer of rubber granulate for shock and heat absorption.

Nike Grind recycled roofing would advantageous in areas with extreme weather changes. The rubber granulate absorbs the impact of hail, heavy rain, and flying debris to protect the roof from damages and ensure safety. Additionally, the rubber is fire resistant, which could reduce the risk of a building catching fire or slow down the spread of fires in areas prone to wildfires. The insulative properties of the foam will keep buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The recycled roofing is pest resistant, inexpensive, and durable, which makes it an ideal roofing design.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

The foam injection scraps, sheets & blocks, and laminated EVA foam can be used as insulation; this is the first layer of the roof. The EVA foam pieces will be ground into approximately 1 inch pieces so that this layer will be level. Next, the rubber outsoles and rubber flashings would be melted together into a sheet to waterproof and protect the roof. Lastly, the rubber granulate would cover the sheet and further protect the roof.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Our target market for the roofing is homes or commercial buildings in areas with extreme weather. Recycled roofing is relatively inexpensive, which means that it appeals to a wide range of socioeconomic groups. There could be a high end line for commercial buildings in first world countries that uses thicker layers of material for ultimate durability. Alternatively, another version for roofs in third world countries could use less material so that it would be easy to transport to remote areas.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

This idea can be scaled through existing roofing companies. Nike can make the materials available to roofing companies as a direct replacement for existing materials. The largest potential obstacle may be competition with those using newer, first time purpose-built roofing materials. The appeal of using Nike Grind materials would counteract this, with lower costs and an active contribution to the circular economy.

How is your idea innovative?

Our idea is innovative because we are taking an existing concept and making it out of entirely recycled materials. Rubber roofing exists, but current applications use a layer of new foam, covered with a rubber sheet made of a combination of new and recycled rubber, and topped with a layer of gravel. In contrast, our idea would use only recycled materials. We would have a base of EVA foam, topped with a rubber sheet, and held down with a layer of rubber granulate.

What inspired this idea?

We wanted to create a product that improves living conditions for people in need. Initially, we thought of a foam igloo that protects the homeless from the cold, but we realized the igloo would be difficult to build and transport. We designed recycled roofing, which is more realistic and permanent.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

We are a group of five Mechanical Engineering students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Through our coursework and projects, we have become familiar with important concepts like human-centered design, product manufacturing, and material properties.

In what city are you located?

San Luis Obispo

In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

If Nike Grind Recycled Roofing were chosen as a top idea, further research and development could be carried out to refine the best way to utilize the materials for this specific purpose. Testing will be done and eventually partnering with construction-capable parties can take place.


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Hi Emily
This is great. We also want to explore roofing and rainproofing with grind materials, but for the informal sector in a township environment... if your research is available and you're willing to share your cleverness, that would be very cool. We are artists and experimenters not structural engineers!!

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