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By Pari Sanati

Before & After

March 1, 2009 (San Diego)— For many of us, recycling and watching energy and water consumption are now regular practices, far from the days when all these were new and perhaps daunting concepts. As the world makes the inevitable "greening" shift, environmentally conscious home and business owners are looking for new and interesting ways to continue contributing to a sustainable world.

Good Earth GreenScaped Buildings is helping quench the thirst for sustainability with its commitment to promoting green roofs and restorative buildings. Owner Jim Mumford says the current economic climate is actually a good one for going green. "One positive aspect we're seeing from our economic downturn and global warming fears is the need for bigger strides in low-impact development," Mumford said. "It's the retrofitting of older buildings, and also the building of new ones when the market picks up. Not only do green roofs have an aesthetic benefit, but their environmental and financial benefits can be significant."

Mumford will share his tips on green buildings as part of Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District's Greener Future and Renewable Energy Seminars. The next "Green Roof Design and Construction" seminar will be on Saturday, March 7th at Cuyamaca College from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon in room A 109. Lunch is included. The cost is $30. Pre-registration is recommended.

The session will familiarize participants with existing green roof technology, design and construction, and discuss the significant social, economic and environmental returns on investment from installing green roofs in San Diego County.

Green (or living) roofs are an engineered, lightweight roofing system that supports plants. The technology has been popular in northern Europe and Japan for the past 30+ years, and is being used more and more in North American cities including New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Portland. Modern green roof technology however, is not well known in most of the United States, and in arid climate regions such as Southern California, the technology is even less known.

Good Earth GreenScaped Buildings is contributing to the development of a plant palette specific to arid climates such as San Diego. Mumford focuses on drought tolerant, hardy natives and succulents that will tolerate the harsh conditions found on roof tops in San Diego County. Mumford is also experimenting with green walls, and recently planted a vertical vegetable wall. In addition, he recently became a distributor for a rainwater harvesting modular system created specifically for urbanized areas. By using these RainWater HOGs, Mumford hopes to close the loop in creating an efficient and drought-friendly green roof system partially irrigated with rain water.

Mumford will be joined by architect Robert Thiele,AIA, LEED AP and roofer Ulf Waldmann of Mission Valley Roofing. Thiele has worked with both James Hubbell and artist Cristo. Waldmann is an experienced green roofer dating back to working with his father's roofing firm in Germany 20 years ago. "I feel very fortunate to have Robert and Ulf as part of our green roof team," says Mumford. "They have been invaluable to our ongoing success."

"I hope this course will get people thinking and encourage more green roofs in San Diego County," said Mumford. The last green roof seminar held in November 2008 was a huge success, with attendees ranging from curious homeowners and students, to government officials, landscape architects and engineers.

Good Earth's own headquarters houses a 1,700 sq. ft. green roof atop its administrative offices. Since its installation, they've seen a significant reduction from the roof's storm water runoff, lower energy use and energy costs resulting from the green roof's cooling characteristics, increased biodiversity to an otherwise wildlife unfriendly industrial area, and significant noise reduction. Other benefits found with green roofs are lower ambient air temperatures which help combat the urban heat island effect, mitigation of fire danger, and the extension of a roof's lifespan by two to three times, greatly reducing construction waste by thousands of pounds.

Later this month, to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of their Green Roof "lab" everyone is welcome to visit the Good Earth headquarters for an open house on March 20th from 1-4 pm. To RSVP for the March 20th open house, email Alexa McEntarffer at alexam@goodearthplants.com or call (858) 430 -0575.

To register for the March 7th Green Roof program at Cuyamaca College, call. (619) 660-4350. For additional information, visit www.greenscapedbuildings.com.

Pari Sanati is a former staff member for Councilwoman Donna Frye and currently works for Good Earth Plant Company

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