Urban Ecologist and founder of livingroofs.org
Lewisham, South London
"There's 24 times the size of Richmond Park in flat roofs in London, which could be green tomorrow."
Dusty is Mr Green Roof. He's passionate about putting vegetation on buildings and for the past 15 years has been one of the UK's foremost green roof advocates. Originally from a street theatre and entertainment background, his career turned full circle in 2006 when he appeared as a co-presenter alongside comedian Bill Bailey in the Channel 4 series 'Wild Thing I Love You' about saving wildlife. He's put green roofs on Barclays Tower in the City and the Komodo Dragon House at London Zoo. His vision of a multifunctional green London is the antidote to soaring summer temperatures caused by climate change.
Dusty's early interest in urban ecology, (his mum tells him he fell out of a high chair when he was two chasing a robin) eventually led to a career as one of the leading proponents of green or living roofs. In 2004, he co-founded livingroofs.org the UK's independent not-for-profit green roof organisation that educates and advises on green roof development.
Always passionate about wildlife, he decided against doing a degree in ecology and studied theatre instead, becoming a professional street entertainer, circus performer and actor. He even modelled as a punk for postcards in the 1980s. Whilst teaching circus skills to disaffected children in Deptford he was asked to undertake a detailed bird survey of the area and his obsession with putting vegetation on buildings began.
Green roofs is a subject that Dusty lives and breathes and he has played a leading role in many exciting projects. "Getting Barclays to put a green roof on top of their tower in Canary Wharf was a highlight for me. It's the highest green roof designed for nature conservation in the world at 160 metres tall. I can take people up there to look at it, and you can see right across London. Which is something for a geezer from Deptford". He is also proud of his work with Global Generation, which involved local school children and young people. "This is important as green roofs not only play an environmental role but have the potential to have a social dimension especially in the urban core".
Dusty is a big proponent of taking the holistic view demanded by sustainability. "We have to see the city as an ecosystem". He warns against the dangers of taking the opposite, reductionist view. "Focussing too much on single issues, even CO2 reduction, could in the end make us less sustainable if we don't make the positive links with other environmental and social issues."
"I want to persuade another 3 major financial institutions in the City to retrofit substantial green roofs on their buildings. There is an emerging feeling in the business community that worsening climatic conditions could influence where future businesses locate - if London is oppressively hot in the summer months we could lose some global HQs. Businesses ought to have a duty of care in terms of office conditions for their workforce. Green roofs can help ameliorate unbearable temperatures."