John McCaslin

Huff and puff and ...

On the heels of singer Sheryl Crow advocating "only one square" of toilet paper per bathroom visit to help reduce global warming, former President Bill Clinton is encouraging homeowners to skip the tar and shingles and lay sod roofs.

We turn to Mr. Clinton's appearance last month at the Potomac School in Northern Virginia. As first reported by Brian Trompeter of the Sun Gazette Newspapers, the former president spoke for more than an hour on topics that, in the spirit of his former Vice President Al Gore, included climate change.

America must engage in "relentless home improvement," Mr. Clinton told the students, explaining that the environment will improve with more nergy-efficient houses and products.

The former president "made a pitch for the use of sod on more roofs," noting that while tar-roof temperatures reach 150 degrees on 90-degree days, sod roofs get up to only 80 degrees.

We conducted a little research yesterday, and while sod roofs are far more common in places like African villages, we came across a pair of Vermont home builders — Tim Rice and Steve Jacob — who agree with Mr. Clinton that the time is right for a "revival of the old-time sod roof."

Better yet, the Vermonters told Mother Earth News, "the materials are easily found in most back yards."

 All a turf roof needs is some undercoating preparation and a large front-end loader to hoist the soil and grass skyward. And don't worry if the sod appears uneven on the roof; that's due to the varying thicknesses of the individual pieces of turf.

"Just rake some extra dirt into the low spots until the surface of the sod is level. Any grass you cover will grow right up again," assure the builders. Oh, and "to keep the wind and rain from eroding your roof away, line its perimeter with cedar logs."

That's all there is to it. Good luck with your local board of architectural review, and don't forget the lesson of the "Three Little Pigs."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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