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Above and Beyond
Young Alums Put Innovative Sustainability into Action

Brendan Shea ’04, left, and Mark Winterer ’02 in one of their rooftop gardens in Boston.

By Mary McAfee '11
During the hike up three snowy mountains during Peak Weekend 2000, a friendship was born between Brendan Shea ’04 and Mark Winterer ’02 that would turn into an innovative and sustainable business: Recover Green Roofs.

After graduating, Shea worked his way up at Clivus Multrum, starting in maintenance and eventually becoming project manager of design and construction. Winterer, meanwhile, attended Owen School of Management in Nashville, focusing particularly on sustainability and energy management technologies.

When Winterer finished his studies in May 2009, Shea approached him about starting a “green roof” company.  “I was looking for a job in the sustainability field when Brendan called about starting the business,” Winterer says.  Shea adds, “Mark completed a rigorous market analysis and decided green roofs had a great deal of growth potential.”

And just like that, Recover Green Roofs was born.

At the time, green roofs weren’t exactly commonplace. But thanks in part to the work of Shea and Winterer, you can now find green roofs all over the East Coast. “In 2010 we had projects ranging from residential homes and condos to the Novartis pharmaceutical research headquarters to a New York City public school pilot project funded by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection,” Shea notes.

“Green roofs are becoming more common because they address many of the issues resulting from dense, urban living,” he continues. “In some situations, the green roof provides a great aesthetic improvement or lush recreation space; in others it can be used to grow food.”

A great example of the latter is one of Shea and Winterer’s favorite projects: a “food roof” atop a restaurant in Boston. “The chefs just run upstairs to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini and more,” Shea says.

“The more I learn about green roofs, the more I believe in them,” Winterer comments. The pair has ambitions to expand their company to other cities, such as New York, San Francisco and New Orleans, he adds.

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