Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Incenting Ecoroofs in Portland

Some previous posts Sustainable Stormwater and Grey to Green alluded to a large push for incentives to promote stormwater management projects in the City of Portland. For ecoroofs, the City is putting up the money to back up the talk, with a recent announcement.

:: image via Bureau of Environmental Services

Read the text below... excerpted from an article in the Portland Tribune:

"The Grey to Green goal is to add 43 acres of new ecoroofs in five years. The city has about nine acres of ecoroofs on more than 90 buildings. The incentive grants will pay up to $5 per square foot for new ecoroof projects, which typically cost between $5 and $20 per square foot.

The city will spend about $300,000 on grants in this year, and will make grant funds available during the next five years. Industrial, residential, commercial and mixed-use projects are eligible for the incentive program.
The city begins accepting grant applications on Oct. 28. An Environmental Services committee will review applications quarterly and award grants.

The grant application packet is available online at www.portlandonline.com/bes/ecoroof , or by calling 503-823-7914."

A five dollar a square foot incentive is huge... and $300k will help add 60,000 sf of ecoroof. If we conservatively say this $5 will leverage another $10-15 per s.f. of investment and will add an additional 3 acres or so of ecoroof this year. That's around 1/3 of all of the roofs built in Portland to date... and it's ramping up for the 43 acre target.

:: image via Bureau of Environmental Services

How do we achieve this success? A few thoughts:

1. We have to find a way to get the overall price of ecoroofs down to somewhere in the $10-12 per square foot. It's possible (and has been done) as long as people aren't in to making huge profit margins, selling expensive products, or over-designing the rooftops.

2. They all have to be well done - through installation, design, and maintenance. And I mean, look good, perform well, be easy to maintain, and just pretty much blow everyone away... not just be kind of good. And they can't woefully fail. And if there's a problem... we need to fix it, right away. If not, the success will be the downfall, as people will see a lot of badly installed, poorly maintained, and unsustainable.

3. We need to keep doing research and development - learning from precents. New research proposed at Portland State, Oregon State, and new workshops and documents from Bureau of Environmental Services is gold - encompassing plant materials, pv/ecoroof compatibility, and biodiversity... all of what we need to improve. Anyone have more ideas... let's write some grants.

Either way, there's a lot of buzz - and I imagine a LOT more ecoroofs on the way. It is an exciting time. For tradition's sake, we started the era of ecoroofs in Portland with Tom Liptan's rooftop in 1997...

:: Tom Liptans Garage - image via CS Monitor

And can kick-off this new, jump-started ecoroof era, with Dave Elkin's new ecoroof shed.

:: Dave Elkin's Shed Ecoroof - image via Sustainable Stormwater

In related news, Dave Elkin's Sustainable Stormwater Blog is rustling with posts lately (i'm guessing it's the 'free time' up late with the new baby :) Good to see the posts and the wicked cool aerial pole photos...) Congrats Dave!

:: image via Sustainable Stormwater

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