TreeHugger: How did you get involved with Green Force?
Lauren Gropper: Well, I have a background in green building consulting and I was working as a consultant in New York when a friend saw a posting for the "next green tv host" on TreeHugger and passed it on to me! After a series of interviews and screen tests, I was told I needed to move to Canada to start production.
TH: What's the format for Green Force? Can you provide an example of an episode that you're currently working on, or one that you've already shot?
LG: Green Force is a documentary-style reality show in which an urban community space is given a green makeover. Each episode will be a half-hour, airing on HGTV this spring. One of my favorite episodes shot so far was a makeover at a local HIV/AIDS hospice called Casey House. One of the key components of the makeover was a community garden -- it was incredible to see the way that this garden brought the community together. So the emphasis is not just on the process of design and construction, but really on the sustainability of the communities and the lives of the people that we are working with.TH: What makes the show "green"?
LG: I think the name says it all - Green Force. We bring back green spaces and incorporate sustainable design to neglected urban areas that would otherwise stay neglected -- but beyond just trees, plants, and grass, we source green materials that are recycled reclaimed, locally produced, sustainably harvested, and energy efficient. We also recycle the asphalt that we dig up.
Another green component of the show is the way in which our makeovers aim to address storm-water management issues and water conservation -- most of the plants we specify are drought tolerant (which do not require extra watering) and our hardscapes and paved areas are permeable, allowing for maximum drainage, groundwater recharge, and ultimately less pollution going into our rivers and lakes.
TH: How are the show's content and locations chosen?
LG: The content of the show is a collaborative effort between the production company (Tricon Films and Television), the network (HGTV), the communities that we work with, the producer, director, and the hosts. Locations were pre-established by our production company, based on community-need.
TH: In what ways do you think the show will push "green" further into the mainstream?
LG: Hopefully the show will help to de-mystify the green design and construction industry by providing simple solutions that viewers can identify with.
TH: Do you think we can expect more shows in the future will cover "green" content, similar to how there are currently so many shows about fashion? Is "green" the "next big thing" as far as the television industry is concerned?
LG: Now that "green" has become accepted in the mainstream media, I think there is certainly an opportunity to show people what "green" is all about in a fresh and accessible way, one that isn't preachy or over-the-top granola.
TH: What green building practices are you most excited about?
LG: I get most excited about zero-energy homes, buildings that are "off-the-grid" and able to provide their own power needs through passive design and renewable energy sources - very cool.
TH: How do you live a TreeHugger lifestyle?
LG: I do my best, but there's always room for improvement on that one! I have to say I'm proud to have not owned a car in 10 years. But then I'm not a vegetarian...always room for improvement!
Lauren Gropper is host of the HGTV show "Green Force", which will begin airing on HGTV in the Spring of 2007.
[Interview conducted by Treehugger intern Dave Chiu]