The People of Portland Go Up on the Green Roofs of Their City
By Larry West
And there the world below don’t bother me”–Carole King and Gerry Goffin
Portland, Oregon has a well-deserved reputation as a “green” city that actively promotes sustainable living practices, but it’s not just good public transportation and miles of bike lanes that make Portland green. This Northwest city is also a national leader in the use ofgreen roofs (also called eco-roofs or planted roofs) to create a more livable urban environment.
Portland got its first green roof in 1996, when Tom Liptan, an eco-roof expert for the Bureau of Environmental Services, topped his garage with a green roof. Today, Portland has hundreds of green roofs that cover about 19 acres of rooftops, and the city plans to add another 43 acres of green roofs in the next five years. Portland offers a number of incentives to encourage homeowners, local businesses and developers to install green roofs on their structures.
Many of Portland’s green roofs are on private residences and office buildings. Others are on public buildings such as the Central Multnomah County Library in downtown Portland and the Native American Student and Community Center at the south end of the Portland State University campus, and are open to people in need of an oasis in the city—and who isn’t?
The Multnomah County Building, for example, has a 12,000 square foot green roof that offers a 180-degree view of downtown Portland from a sky-high garden of lupine, iris, daffodil, lavender and other wildflowers.