Green Jobs for a Green Future: Green Roofing


♪♪ Music playing ♪♪ MR. JONES: I've got a question for you: how do you create jobs, redevelop urban communities, and help the environment at the same time? Well, these guys have a pretty good idea. They are DC Greenworks. I'm Van Jones. I'm the Special Advisor for Green Jobs for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Let's go check them out. ♪♪ Music playing ♪♪ MS. LOVELAND: Hi, Van! MR. JONES: Hey, Sara. Good to see you. MS. LOVELAND: Good to see you! MR. JONES: That's good. MS. LOVELAND: Thanks for coming out today. MR. JONES: Oh no, I'm good. So what — so tell me what's going on. I see a bunch of dirt and I see a bunch of people; what's the deal here? MS. LOVELAND: That's what our part of the green collar industry is all about.

It really is just a bunch of dirt and a bunch of people. And there are some plants as well. MR. JONES: So, you're making green roofs? MS. LOVELAND: Yep. MR. JONES: I've heard of solar panels, I've heard of wind farms; what's a green roof? Why is a green roof a good thing? MS. LOVELAND: Well, a green roof, as we build them, is a vegetative roof. And it's a good thing because it adds insulation qualities to your building. It also reduces the urban heat island effect, so it's really critical for American urban areas. And it reduces storm water runoff, which is really critical in D.C. That's why we got into green roofing in the first place, because it has the opportunity to mitigate a lot of our pollution. MR. JONES: So you take this earth — it's sort of earth that's good for the Earth, I guess, because you put it up on the roof? MS. LOVELAND: Yeah, we grow — with this soil mix, we grow sedum and succulents which are hardy, drought-resistant plants and they also spread really rapidly.

So what you're gonna see today doesn't look like a green roof, it looks more brown. MR. JONES: Yeah. MS. LOVELAND: But keep in mind that these plants grow at about 1,000 times their initial size every season, so — MR. JONES: Oh, okay. MS. LOVELAND: Really, really rapid growth. MR. JONES: Okay. MR. JONES: For me, I think about, you know, there's a real need now for jobs. You know, the home builders and construction workers who, for a long time, had a lot of work to do, now they're kind of idle. The President has a big initiative to want to weatherize and retrofit homes and buildings to make them more energy efficient. Do you think that green roofs should be a part of that effort? MS. LOVELAND: Absolutely. Green roofs definitely need to be a part of the effort. Not even "should," they need to be. Especially in urban areas where you see the benefits really maximized. These are populations where we're only increasing the density and expanded green space and reduced temperatures and cleaner air quality and improved river quality really helps all of the inhabitants.

MR. JONES: And if we continue to do this type of work in the United States, it should be a long career path for you. MS. LOVELAND: It's a highly skilled, high paying job and I think it's one that a lot of people would like to get into. MR. JONES: Perfect; now let's go, let's check it out. MS. LOVELAND: All right. MR. JONES: Nobody gets to laugh until the ambulance comes. (Laughter.) ♪♪ Music playing ♪♪ MS. LOVELAND: So here we are on the roof. MS. LOVELAND: This is where all the rest of the magic happens. MR. JONES: That's good, that's good. MS. LOVELAND: This is the final step. MR. JONES: So, is this the "green" in the green roof? MS. LOVELAND: Yeah, this is the green. MR. JONES: So — MS. LOVELAND: So, I told you it was gonna look a little like a brown roof at first. MR.

JONES: Yeah. MS. LOVELAND: So, you can see where we planted sedums there in the fall that have started to take hold. MR. JONES: Now, can I eat this? Is this, like, food, or no? MS. LOVELAND: Well, we don't eat these but you can plant herbs on roofs and if you build deeper roofs you can also grow. So you can use rooftops as agricultural sources. MR. JONES: Yeah, well, that might become important as our climate change hits. More droughts and that kind of stuff. We might want to use less energy to transport food around. Do you guys think that, you know, someday green roofs will be a part of the food chain? Is that a possibility? MS. LOVELAND: Someday? MR. JONES: Someday. MS. LOVELAND: Today! MR. JONES: Today! Good. (Laughter.) This is the kind of stuff that President Obama is super excited about. We're trying to figure out ways to solve as many problems as we can with as little money as possible. So I know he's gonna be super happy to hear about this. ♪♪ Music playing ♪♪ MR. JONES: So, I heard you guys got a big grant, you've got this big vision for this quarter, tell me about it. What's next for Greenworks? MS.

LOVELAND: Well, we got a grant from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development's office for $150,000 — MR. JONES: Oh, wow, that's great. MS. LOVELAND: And we will use that to build 11 green roofs along this corridor on roofs that already needed to be replaced. Now, it provides for DC Greenworks to train and apprentices and for our staff to assist the business owners with designing and building the green roof and it leverages volunteer labor from the community to build it as well. So, we only ask that the building owners match the cash subsidy from the Deputy Mayor's office, which is about the equivalent of just replacing their roof with a new membrane. So, they're gonna get a green roof that offers them all of these benefits; an extended life, reduce their heating and cooling cost, lower their bill, their business operating expenses, and all for the price of just a regular roof replacement. MR.

JONES: Wow, that's awesome. This is reality, this is urban America. People are getting healthier, saving money, getting jobs, doing job training, working together; thank you, Greenworks. MS. LOVELAND: Thank you, Van. MR. JONES: You guys are showing the way. We appreciate you. MS. LOVELAND: We're so glad you could come out. MR. JONES: Yeah, yeah, it's really amazing. So, yeah, thanks. MS. LOVELAND: Thank you. ♪♪ Music playing ♪♪.