A gift guide for Mother Earth 

How to make the world a better place

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Have a little room on your gift list? What about adding Mother Earth? Face it; she’s been good to you, so this year it might be time to say thanks with a special little something for her.

Like all gift guides, this one starts with the gold, uh, green standard and includes ideas simple and affordable enough for everyone. Whatever you get her, Planet Mom’s going to love it, after all, she really does appreciate the effort.

Green on top

When Santa alights on the rooftop of Senga Lindsay’s live/work space, it won’t be the clatter of eight sets of tiny reindeer hooves that alerts the landscape artist to their arrival. More likely it will be the gnashing of eight – nine if they let the guy with the red nose come along – tiny sets of teeth that will let Lindsay know the jolly ol’ elf and company have landed. Chances are that after an evening of several transcontinental flights, the team that pulls Kris Kringle’s sled along will be looking to have a nibble on Lindsay’s roof. Because instead of the traditional North American roofing materials of shakes, asphalt shingles or metal, the roof Lindsay keeps over her North Vancouver combination home and office consists of soil and plant matter.

Green roofs. They’ve been around, in one form or another, for years. Thatch roofs anyone? Well, maybe those made of dead and dehydrated grasses are probably better described as golden roofs. However, in the last century, the idea of using living plants to roof commercial and residential buildings has taken root, particularly in Europe.

Lindsay, through her company, Senga Landscape Architecture, which also has offices in Whistler, began offering the service last fall to fill a deficiency in the local market. She points out that while green roofs have been used locally in commercial buildings for the last decade, the idea of green for residential buildings is relatively new.

"Green roofs are starting to be installed in Vancouver. I guess from a homeowner’s point of view there are two different levels of interest – economic and environmental consciousness – and both are valuable," says Lindsay.

"From the economic point of view green roofs have been able to save home owners 30 per cent heating/cooling costs."

The other savings comes from the longevity of the roof. A homeowner can expect to replace a traditional roof sometime around the 25-year point, the typical length of time that roofing membranes are guaranteed. The membrane is essentially a barrier to prevent moisture from seeping in and attacking the integrity of wood.

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