Home The Latest Portland's eco-roof industry falls short

Portland's eco-roof industry falls short

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Wednesday, November 07, 2012

BY EMMA HALL

11.07.12 Blog Ecoroof
OHSU Ecoroof, photo courtesy of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services

The worldwide eco-roof industry is growing rapidly, and Portland is often lauded as being in a unique position to benefit as an early adopter of the green building trend. The city has joined much larger cities in offering green roof incentives since 2008, and is home to startup eco-roof manufacturer Columbia Green. Portland State University boasts a Green Roof Design and Testing Lab. Yet the city is falling behind on its goal of 43 acres of eco-roofs by 2013.

Vegetated roof systems reduce and treat stormwater, fight air pollution and sequester carbon dioxide. As part of the sustainable stormwater management practices program Grey to Green, Portland pays up to $5 per square foot for new eco-roof projects within city limits. The roofs cost between $5 and $20 per square foot, and that price is expected to come down as they become more common. Grey to Green’s goal is to reach 43 acres of green roofs by 2013. However, as of July 2012 the city had only 355 eco-roofs on Portland homes and businesses, totaling 17.7 acres.

Driven by incentives like Portland’s across the world, the green roof and wall business will become a $7.7 billion market by 2017, says a new report by Lux Research. Poised to benefit from that is green-roof pioneer Columbia Green. In September, Columbia Green received a $80,000 commercialization grant from Oregon BEST to partner with Portland State University researchers on measuring and tracking the ability of ecoroof systems to manage stormwater runoff in urban settings. The PSU research team is led by Graig Spolek, who runs the university’s Green Roof Design and Testing Lab. The collaboration hopes to quantify the benefits of eco-roofs, backing up claims being made by the young industry.

The market for green roofs grew 115% in 2011, according to industry trade group Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. “We are definitely beginning to see results from policy support that has increased over the past few years,” said GRHC Chair Jeffrey L. Bruce in a press release. “The industry is also benefitting from the more than 500 accredited Green Roof Professionals (GRPs) in the market, who are committed to driving future industry growth.”

Besides their environmental aspects, green roofs hold the possibility of being beautiful green additions to dreary concrete jungles, or even provide recreation value. Portland-based Surround Architecture recently completed a 1,400-square-foot green roof on Turtle Island Foods' new riverfront production facility in Hood River. “The design of the green roof evolved,” Surround Architecture creative director Mark VanderZaden said. “We specified deeper soil than the typical green roof so it could have areas to grow vegetables and taller accent plants, designed a bocce ball court, incorporate seating areas and walkways, and wired the roof for sound so music can be enjoyed outside. Mini-golf holes with an environmental theme are still to be added.”

So if green roofs can help the environment and look cool, why aren’t more developers creating them in Portland? The market may be growing internationally, but still lags behind in Columbia Green's hometown. The failure of green building pioneers like the much-lauded Oregon Sustainability Center shows that local support for green building efforts can balk in the face of high price tags. A Portland study from 2008 did a detailed cost analysis on eco-roofs. Compared to a traditional roof, a 40,000-square-foot eco-roof would cost $128,803 more after five years, but save $403,632 for the property owner after 40 years. And with the economy the way it is, people are looking at short-term costs rather than long term savings. PSU's Green Building Research Center has an online Green Roof Energy Calculator that is partially funded by the U.S. Green Building Council. Try it yourself to see if a green roof could be right for you. 

Portland property owners and developers can get more information on how to apply for the eco-roof incentive at the Bureau of Environmental Services’ website.

Emma Hall is the web editor of Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Green Roof - rest of the storyGuest 2012-11-08 19:22:00
We investigated installing a green roof a couple of years ago for our 13,000 sq foot flat roof.

What killed the project, was the additional beams/columns required to support the "extra weight" of the green roof. The green roofs roughly double the snow load requiring additional structual upgades which would have cost over $100,000, before we pay the premium costs related to green roofs.

Since the City program subsidizes only the green roof and not the structural upgrades that would be required to install a green roof, we decided it was way to expensive.


Mark Twietmeyer
Small Business Owner
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JAKE THOMAS

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


Read more...

What I'm reading: Brad Smith & Travis Boersma

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brad Smith, founder of Hot Pepper Studios, and Travis Boersma, president of Dutch Bros. Coffee, share their recent reads.


Read more...

On fire

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

A self-proclaimed “chile head,” John Ford “grows, eats and does everything spicy.” 


Read more...

100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Monday, March 03, 2014

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 11.26.47 AM

Check out interviews with employees from some of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon winners and find out what makes their company a great place to work.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 33 Small Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...

Video: Kickstarting Oregon business

News
Thursday, March 27, 2014
02.04.14 Thumbnail VideoBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Watch this OB Original Video about three Oregon companies and how crowd-funding "kickstarted" their business ideas.


Read more...

Speeding up science

News
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
02.25.14 Thumbnail MedwasteBY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER

The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS