Green roofs are not wacky stuff! Buildings from Chicago City Hall to the headquarters of The Gap in San Bruno, California have green roofs.

The Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC) provides incentives for developers to install green roofs or “eco-roofs” covering at least 75 percent of the net roof area on buildings within its jurisdiction in downtown San Diego, including density bonuses. No green roofs are installed, but several have received approval including the Strata and Cosmopolitan Square residential projects, and the 210-room Hotel Indigo.

The county of San Diego has a Green Building Program, but green roofs aren’t specifically mentioned. What is mentioned are photovoltaic systems. Believe it or not, green roofs make solar cells much more efficient. A green roof will cool down the ambient temperature around a PV system during the hottest months to about 75 degrees which is the optimal temperature for them to operate.

In northern San Diego County, Palomar Pomerado Hospital hopes to install a green roof on its new facility in Escondido, which is expected to open in 2010. The San Elijo Lagoon Visitor Center is also planning installation of a green roof.

Two forward-thinking homeowners in Rancho Santa Fe have contracted me to install a green roof. They’re willing to make the investment for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is such a cool thing to do. And they are paying attention to the benefits a green roof has to offer, from found space to bio-diversity,

As San Diego’s self-designated green roof champion (hey, no one else is stepping up to claim that title, so I might as well do it), I’m working on putting together a committee to influence public policy and incentives including subsidies, rebates, accelerated permitting and density bonuses. I’m also in the process of being accredited as a Green Roof Consultant by the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities organization, and becoming a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional through the U.S. Green Building Council.

— JIM MUMFORD

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