Dusty Gedge tells us why he ran away from the circus to join the green roofing industry

What does your job involve?
I see myself as a salesman for the green roof concept, really – I write reports for developers and work on the designs. At the moment, I’m launching the website, www.livingroofs.org.

Yours has been a slightly unusual career path, to say the least …
I used to be an actor and circus performer – I was in the juggling, unicycling, tightrope-walking, acrobatic field. Later, I was one of the guys you see on tourist postcards doing this [extends middle finger] under a caption saying “Greetings from London”.

So, having done your bit for UK tourism, you decided on a career change
?I’ve always been into bird-watching so I started doing voluntary work in nature conservation. I got into green roofing through that. Now I spend more time talking about rubble than birds.

Did any of your skills come in handy?
In the past seven or eight years, I’ve done a lot of public speaking, so my acting skills are useful. Unicycling … less so.

What does rubble have to do with green roofs?
The systems we promote take the rubble from a brownfield site and recycle it nearby for use on the roofs when the site is regenerated. This is ecologically sound and saves on transport. Our systems have many of the same advantages as other moss or grass roofing systems, such as improved energy efficiency and drainage.

What have you worked on recently?
I have just finished a report for Argent St George on the King’s Cross Central development, which is one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe. Myself and Swiss designer Stephan Brenneisen have also designed the roof for the Komodo Dragon House at London Zoo.

Has a lack of qualifications held you back at all?
Not really – partly because it’s such a new field. I’ve had to learn on the hoof, picking up stuff about insulation roofs, metal deck roofs, everything about roofs really. In some respects, not being trained and not coming from the “construction world” has been helpful – I’ve never been constrained by company policy.

Is the industry receptive to green roofing or is it just seen as a fad?
Developers are receptive – they think we’re doing something good here. Unfortunately, there are companies around that produce substandard systems. One thing we’re planning for the future is to create a code of conduct for companies to follow. That’ll be a whole new learning curve.

Log on to www.livingroofs.org

Dusty Gedge

Age 40
Employment history Left school at 18 to become an actor and circus performer. After 10 years, began public speaking on ecological issues and has worked as a freelance consultant on green roofing since 1997. Became company director of www.livingroofs.org, which aims to promote the green roofing industry, earlier this year
Lives Lewisham, south-east LondonFamily One son, Louis
Hobbies Bird-watching – "you'd be surprised what you can find in Lewisham"