Ecoroofs: industry grows, costs come down
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Portland's ecoroof industry is expanding, and the cost of building ecoroofs is getting lower. These are the first signs of success for the city's green roof incentive program, lauded Wednesday during an update to the Portland City Council that suggested the city's ecoroof market was at "a tipping point."
On the other side of the peak?
Widespread conventional use of ecoroofing, lower material and labor costs, an expanding pool of local experts to do the job and growing recognition of Portland as a leader in green roofing.
The goals were all in the crosshairs when the City of Portland began providing incentives for green roof construction in 2008. Setting sights on funding 43 acres of ecoroofs for $6.5 million by 2013, the "Gray to Green" program was designed to divert 17.6 million gallons of precipitation from the city storm water utility and save it roughly $9 million in upgrades and maintenance. The program provides grants of $5 per square foot toward the cost of ecoroof construction.
Its creators hoped the incentives would have the added benefit of helping Portland become a learning center for ecoroofs, building a new industry around local expertise for such projects and branding Portland as a pacesetter for similar policies internationally.
Mission accomplished, says Matt Burlin, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Stormwater Management at Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services.
He noted in a presentation to the City Council that while 111 ecoroofs have received the incentive for 8.2 acres of green rooftops, the city has a total of 273 ecoroofs over 13 acres. Many customers now eager for ecoroofs are going directly to businesses, Burlin said, showing a shifting focus from grant-seeking to commerce.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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