What I do mean by “Beyond Sustainability”? Sustainable development means not impinging on future generations right to enjoy the earth. That is, our present activities cannot leave the world worse than we find it. So, putting the brakes on harmful activities is the bare minimum, and yet s a monumental task. Even if we don’t add to the already monumental damage that has been done, there is no assurance that the earth will heal itself in a way that is beneficial to humans. This why we need to think beyond sustainability to regeneration. Regeneration is the active restoration of some of the earths natural systems, systems which provide critical services for maintaining life on earth. Some of these services are cleaning water and air via plants, maintaining the living biome, and regulating temperature in a range that supports life.
At Green Top we believe that green roofs and walls are part of regenerative development. We are saying that the net benefits derived from the installation of our green roof systems are substantial and easily justify the costs. These costs are not only monetary to our customers, but are normally externalized costs to the rest of society and our earth’s ecosytems. Our commitment starts with our customers, but does not end there. If our customer is satisfied, but we have left the rest of the world weaker, damaged or deprived, we have failed. That is why we are careful about how we choose the materials we use for our green roof systems, making sure sure that we meet our goal of being regenerative. We source local post industrial and post consumer materials for the components in our installations, in essence reassembling waste into a product that will provide a cascade of benefits that will enhance life both locally and globally.
By planting green roofs we are replacing some of the footprint lost when a build was originally erected. Every time we build we remove habitat from the earth’s surface. We cut down trees and other plants and scrape away the microbe rich topsoil. The plants and microbes, along with the mineral composition of the soil normally do much of the work of cleaning and cooling water, while also slowing damaging runoff. A building with a green roof mimics, to a large extent, these “services” which are normally provided by nature.
This is especially important in an urban environment where the cumulative effect of runoff, heat and pollution cause very expensive and environmentally damaging problems, including contaminated sewer overflows, urban heat islands and the accelerated degradation of buildings, especially roofs.