Peoples Food Co-op is a 33 year-old natural food store located
in SE Portland with a big commitment to sustainability. Peoples
strives to sell no genetically modified food, only organic produce,
a large selection of bulk foods, many vegan options and natural
ingredient pet foods. They are also committed to building sustainably.
So, when they outgrew their original store, located in a converted
old-Portland style home, People’s saw an opportunity to incorporate
eco friendly designs, materials, and construction practices.
3029 SE 21st Street
Portland, OR 97202
The two year renovation, which started in September 2001 and ended
in early 2003 resulted in a building that is a model of sustainable
development. The new store incorporates cob – an earth, sand,
and straw mixture used to form walls and benches, renewable energy
in the form of a ground source heat pump, durable, recycled and
non-toxic materials, as well as an extensive stormwater management
system designed to eliminate stormwater runoff.
Peoples’ water quality friendly project start’s with
a 140 square-foot ecoroof visible on the building’s south
side. Constructed by volunteers with support from a City of Portland
Watershed Stewardship grant, the ecoroof contains a mix of grasses
and sedum species designed to tolerate the roofs bright southern
exposure. A two-day workshop for volunteers and others interested
in the ecoroof project attracted nearly 40 people to sessions on
design and construction, and plants suited to ecoroof applications.
A second ecoroof, located directly above the buildings entrance
will be constructed in the near future.
Steep sloping roofs with traditional asphalt cover the majority
of the 5400 square foot store. However, most traditional roofs drain
into the city storm system, each of People’s numerous downspouts
connects to a 1500 gallon cistern buried beneath the store’s
grassy front courtyard. The cistern ensures that no roof runoff
leaves the site, and irrigates the store’s landscaped areas
during the dry months. Once city approval is secured, the cistern
water will also be used in the store’s low flow toilets.
Peoples also replaced traditional concrete with pervious pavers
in many places. A length of sidewalk, a back courtyard, and the
pathways leading to the store’s entrance all utilize pervious
pavers –significantly reducing stormwater runoff from these
areas. Two street trees on either side of the corner store also
reduce stormwater at the site.
For Peoples going green was not a hard decision. Erica Simon says
that “Peoples is a holistically minded business. We walk the
talk. These practices have helped us achieve our sustainability
commitment and goal of zero percent runoff.” She says reaction
from customers and others has been incredibly positive and the store
has received a good deal of favorable media attention.
So far, all of Peoples stormwater practices are performing as expected.
“We learned a lot from the Ecotrust project” says Simon,
“especially in terms of when to plant the ecoroof.”
Other problems, such as having to send back the 2500 gallon cistern
that ended up being too big for the space, and having to redo some
of the volunteer installed permeable pavers, have been easy fixes.
“We take educating people seriously” says Simon, ‘hopefully
this is the start of ecoroofs everywhere.”