Ecoworks Foundation

Featured Project: Design Tools for Ecoroofs

Press Release - 2008 Annual Report - Background - Key Tasks - Outcomes - Project Period

Developing Design Tools for Estimating The Energy and Water Performance of Ecoroofs

A Portland State University project, under the auspices of the University's new Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices and jointly funded by Ecoworks Foundation, the City of Portland, and Gerding Edlen.

In addition to the following project overview, please view the project press release and 2008 Annual Report issued by Portland State University to learn more.


Green building has grown exponentially in U.S. over the past decade and is now spreading to foreign countries. Green buildings have the potential to simultaneously deliver environmental and economic benefits. However, a lack of scientific research hampers efforts to optimize their performance and support the market expansion. For example, little scientific information exists to inform the design of ecoroofs. This project will result in the development of a framework to rigorously evaluate the energy savings and rainwater discharge characteristics of eco-roof designs as a function of soil composition, plant selection, and environmental factors. These analyses will be integrated to determine environmental and economic performance of various design alternatives and result in the implementation of an ecoroof module in existing building energy simulation program.

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Initial design of the ecoroof test facility
for conducting controlled experiments to evaluate
the performance of ecoroof designs.

Key Tasks

  1. Implement an ecoroof module in an existing building energy simulation program;
  2. Gather data necessary to parameterize the model and validate its performance;
  3. Conduct a comprehensive suite of ecoroof simulations exploring multiple factors in ecoroof implementation and design;
  4. Identify the construction, operation and maintenance costs and energy saving benefits of various ecoroof designs.
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At the conclusion of this research we will have implemented the ecoroof module in an industry-standard building energy simulation program. We will have validated this module through measurements taken for ecoroofs in various locations within the US - with an initial focus on buildings located in Portland, Oregon. We will seek to partner with development companies to gather additional data for other ecoroofs. We will also have laid the foundation for developing a decision support tool that simultaneously evaluates energy performance and economic costs. We will have established objective performance measures for ecoroof soil/plant systems, with emphasis on water retention and water discharge volume and quality. The end result of this research program will be improved information for the enhanced market penetration of ecoroof technologies that arises from the improved quantitative understanding of how ecoroofs impact building energy consumption and economic construction, operation and maintenance costs.

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Project Period

The project will run from July 15, 2006 through July 14, 2009.

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