GRiT in 2019

2019 is going to be an exciting year for GRiT and for you! We have presentations, tours, and a symposium planned. At our January Jan. 24th, meeting we will start planning the symposium. That may sound boring, but we are starting with a blank canvass, and all are welcome to join us as we paint the picture of what the symposium will focus on and who will present.

Our February 21st meeting will feature award-winning landscape architect Randy Sharp, who will share photos and information about many of his beautiful and innovative and very green projects.

The March meeting will feature City of Portland staff who will talk about the ins and outs of complying with the City’s new ecoroof requirement. This will be a great opportunity to ask specific questions about your project.

All meetings are held at Rogue Eastside, 928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97214. The meeting starts at 5:30 pm (plenty of time to order off the happy hour menu) and end around 7 pm.

We hope you can join us at any or all of these events!

GRiT Holiday Cheer! December 19th 5pm - 8pm

Please join us Wednesday, December 19th from 5:00 - 8:00 for the GRiT Holiday Party!  We have a lot to celebrate this year, especially with the adoption of the Portland Ecoroof Requirement.   We would like to extend a special invite to all of our sister organizations with similar sustainability initiatives, as we continue to build alliances in 2019.  

If you have never been to GRiT this would be a great first meeting!  We'll have a raffle, free hors devours, a slideshow (send me your favorite green roof pictures to include!) and some updates about GRiT 2019 tours and events.  We have the Barrel Room as usual, hidden back behind the brewery, from 5:00 - 8:00 at Rogue Eastside Pub at 929 SE 9th Street, Portland 97214.

Can't wait to celebrate with everyone!!

Tour the Japanese Garden's green infrastructure with GRiT!

Showcasing Japanese traditional gardening techniques for managing water, a beautiful green infrastructure system blends seamlessly into the landscape while addressing modern stormwater requirements.  Our tour and narrative of this ecological design challenge will begin with the recently completed Cultural Crossing village buildings and follow the flow of water downhill. 

 Using a Japanese porous ceramic paver called Greenbiz, a thin profile second story ecoroof absorbs rainfall, echoes a traditional Japanese farmhouse vernacular, and merges into the forest visually.  Water not absorbed by the ecoroofs is collected and daylights in an ephemeral creek which slowly winds down the hillside around buildings, under bridges, and along pathways.  Please join us for this great tour of a local, award winning project!   

 Our guide for the tour is GRiT board member Desiree Wood.

 Wednesday November 28th, 2018, from 3 pm to 4 pm. 

The tour is limited to 20 participants. The tour is free, and pre-registration is required.  To register and for additional information email GRiT at


Presentation: Portland's Ecoroof Requirement

The October GRiT meeting will feature presentations from City of Portland planners about the newly adopted ecoroof requirement.  Stephen Himes, Bureau of Env. Services, will talk about the requirement and complying with the Stormwater Management Manual.  Tim Heron (invited), Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, will talk about the requirement and how to comply.  

the date is to be determined, but the venue is Rogue Eastside Pub and Pilot Room, 928 SE 9th Ave. Bus 15 stops about one block from Rogue, and there is plenty of bike parking.  Car parking is on street.  

This event is free, and all are welcome to join us!

Contact Amy Chomowicz to RSVP or for more information at

Green Roof Tour and Presentation!

Join GRiT on June 20th to tour the Multnomah County green roof, and hear a presentation about green roofs from Alan Proffitt.  

June 20th, 4:30 - 5:15 -- Green roof tour

Location: Multnomah County Headquarters, 501 SE Hawthorne 

June 20th, 5:30 - 7:00 -- Green Roofs 101

Location: Rogue East Side Pub (former Green Dragon), 928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

The events are free!  Contact Amy Chomowicz to RSVP or for more information at


Central City 2035 Adopted!

On Wednesday June 6, 2018, the Portland City Council voted to adopt the Central City 2035 Plan.  The Plan covers a wide range of topics and issues, and significantly, it includes what is arguably the most stringent green roof requirement in the US.  Unlike other cities with requirements that include solar panels or green roofs, the Portland green roof requirement is an outright requirement for green roofs on new construction in the Central City area that has a gross square footage of 20,000 square feet or more.  There are some exemptions, but even with these, Portland will see many more green roofs in the Central City area.  

You can watch the discussion and vote on CC2035 at

Click on the Wednesday June 6th afternoon session.  

Many thanks to the Portland City Council, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission member Mike Houck, our colleagues at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability especially Mindy Brooks, and colleagues Bob Sallinger and Jim Labbe.  

An Update on the Central City 2035 Recommended Draft

East Multnomah County Courthouse combines photovoltaic panels and vegetation on their roofs for their mutually beneficial qualities. 

East Multnomah County Courthouse combines photovoltaic panels and vegetation on their roofs for their mutually beneficial qualities. 

Portland City Council held its first hearing for the Central City 2035 Recommended Draft on Thursday September 7th. The Recommended Draft sets several goals and policies for Portland, including many that support the advancement of green roofs in the Central City. In particular, the Recommended Plan includes a green roof requirement for new development with 20,000 square feet of total floor area. 

The process is a culmination of the City's work over the last few years to collect input from stakeholders, evaluate recommendations, and compile them into a document that will guide the long-range vision for the Central City. GRIT submitted testimony last year to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Committee to show support for the green roof requirement, and submitted written testimony last week. GRIT members were in attendance at last week's hearing to provide oral testimony, but time ran out. Council expects to continue with oral testimony at the next hearing tomorrow, Thursday, September 14th from 2-5:30PM. Additionally, written testimony will be accepted until 5pm on Friday, September 15th. 

We encourage all GRIT members to submit written testimony if they feel inclined. We've pasted the written testimony below for individual members to borrow from should they be inclined to submit their own. 

You can submit written testimony:

By Email
Send an email to
Subject: CC2035 Testimony

By U.S. Mail
Portland City Council c/o Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, 1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 7100, Portland, Oregon 97201 Attn: CC2035 Testimony


September 3, 2017
Portland City Council c/o Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 7100
Portland, Oregon 97201
Attn: CC2035 Testimony

Dear Portland City Council,
On behalf of the Green Roof Information Think-tank (GRiT), we write to applaud the efforts of the City of Portland to develop the Central City 2035 Plan. The Plan is far-reaching and innovative, and when implemented, it will result in an even more vibrant and livable downtown. We also offer our strong support for the ecoroof requirement in the CC 2035 plan (33.510.243).

Rooftops are an overlooked and under-utilized resource, and they greatly impact the public realm. As Portland becomes more densely developed we need to use all available space, and rooftops present many opportunities. Ecoroofs, also called green or vegetated roofs, are rooftops covered in a thin layer of soil and vegetation, and are considered by the EPA as one of the top 5 Low Impact Development methods for storm water management. But they are far more than on-structure stormwater treatment facilities. Ecoroofs provide many economic, environmental, and human health benefits, while saving building owners money by significantly extending the service life of the roofing. Portland can continue developing with antiquated roofing approaches, or we can embrace green roof technology and gain all the benefits they provide, and re-establish Portland as an international leader in urban sustainability. 

The value of green roofs in helping maintain health and livability in denser urban neighborhoods cannot be overstated. The proposed Comprehensive Plan recognizes this by envisioning a new relationship between the built and natural environment in Portland. Throughout its proposed goals and policies, the new Comp Plan calls for a rich, intimate, and daily human connection to nature in order to foster improved public health and sense of place for all Portlanders while improving air and water quality, and native biodiversity. Ecoroofs are essential to achieving all of these goals in our most dense neighborhoods. 

GRiT is fully supportive of the CC2035 ecoroof requirement. We offer the following suggestions to strengthen the requirement so that we realize the full benefits ecoroofs provide:

Change the threshold at which the requirement applies from 20,000 net square feet to 5,000 net square feet, and increase the required ecoroof coverage from 60 percent of the remaining roof area to 100 percent.
Many of the functions of ecoroofs, particularly in combating urban heat island, increase considerably with ecoroof square footage. To fully gain the benefits, coverage must be as wide as possible. Portland is a city of modestly-sized buildings, and we have few large structures on the order of NYC, Chicago, or WA DC. Currently, the requirement only applies to buildings greater than 20,000 net square feet. This threshold will significantly limit the number of ecoroofs in the Central City, further curbing the cumulative landscape-scale benefits of installing ecoroofs on numerous downtown buildings.

The current language requires the ecoroof to cover only 60 percent of the remaining roof after the exemptions have been deducted from the roof area (such as for skylights and mechanical equipment). Limiting the required coverage could result in tiny ecoroofs that provide little benefit, and roofing only partially covered by plants. Exposed roofing alongside green roofing negates the extended lifecycle potential of the roof membrane, unless curbed or covered by gravel or pavers – adding costs and major weight loads without the benefits of planted areas.

A properly designed and installed green roof will far outlast exposed roofing, so unless there is some other proposed use for the roof area, it is of benefit to the building owners and surrounding environment to fully cover their roofs in vegetation. Rooftop space is too valuable to the public realm to be left underutilized.

Remove the Solar Exemption
There is no need for a solar exemption. Ecoroofs and photovoltaic systems are mutually beneficial. When they occupy the same space, the panels can function much more efficiently because they are cooled by the evaporation of water from the plants and soil. Our own Portland State University researchers have demonstrated this. Combining solar and ecoroofs is not new in Portland, we have many buildings that successfully placed their solar panels within the green roof area, including Portland’s historic EcoTrust Building, the Ramona Apartments, the International Harvester Building, the East Multnomah County Courthouse, and the Vestas headquarters building. 

Portland has a history of supporting ecoroofs. Until recently, that support led to Portland’s international reputation as a leader in the green roof industry. In 1999 the City of Portland was the first in the nation to recognize green roofs as a sustainable stormwater approach with the adoption of the City’s first Stormwater Management Manual. In 2001 Portland included ecoroofs as an FAR Bonus option for a new urban design sustainability approach. Portland was the first city in the USA to include ecoroof incentives in its planning regulations and set the pace beyond any other US city in 2008 with the adoption of a five-year direct ecoroof incentive program. The program also helped build the local green roof industry. 

However, Portland’s leadership has waned and now Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York City are touted as models of green roof incentives and regulations. Even smaller cities such as Milwaukie WS, Nashville TN, Devens MA, and Syracuse NY have green roof incentives and/or requirements.

Still, Portland building owners and developers continue to use this natural solution to reduce on-site storm water hassles, and attract more building occupants. More than 300 hundred green roofs blanket Portland’s rooftops and they continue to grow. Green roofing affects many industries, from growing the plants and designing the landscapes, to installing and maintaining the systems. As the voice of a wide range of businesses, researchers and community residents impacted by green roofing, GRiT requests the full support of our municipal leadership for this simple, high-impact solution to so many of our urban concerns.

The most successful efforts to expand ecoroofs in Europe and North America have first established incentives and then transitioned to ecoroof requirements as the local ecoroof industry expands and installation costs come down. Portland is ready for a robust and effective green roof requirement. 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the draft Central City 2035 Plan. We would be happy to provide additional technical information and data. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for more information.


Thanks to all the GRIT members that helped craft testimony!



GRIT Welcomes the Ecological Society of America

The Ecological Society of America held its 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland, and included an ecoroof tour organized by Olyssa Starry at PSU, and supported by GRiT. We visited a wide range of waterfront ecoroofs, with 25 ESA members from all over the world. After traipsing around on extensive, intensive, agricultural and park-like green roofs, we took the sky tram to OHSU, landing atop one of their loveliest rooftop healing gardens. Tour guests discussed their research, city planning, and other efforts to promote the wide-ranging benefits of green roofing in their own hometowns in China, India, Australia, and Israel among other places.

While ecoroofs have a major impact on stormwater management in Portland, in Israel that is not as important as the microhabitats they support. In China, green roofs are all about air quality, and municipalities in India are exploring how they can solve a host of problems from water quality to food production with these systems. It is very inspiring to see people from all over the world visiting Portland’s ecoroofs as the model for working towards solutions of air and water quality, habitat destruction, food shortages and scorching urban temperatures.

Tour Highlights

  • The Mirabella’s water cycle, as it cascades from the upper roof down onto many levels of green roofing, and then showing it all off in the waterfalls and fountains on the lower courtyard roof garden.
  • The collective gasp as first-time skytram riders hit the big swing.
  • Discovering that we are not alone – people of intelligence and influence across the planet are working on the very same solutions as we are at GRiT, with just as much passion and dedication.

Click on the image below to view a slideshow from the tour.