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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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In 1970 People’s Food Co-op (People’s) set up shop in a nearly one hundred year old building that previously hosted a neighborhood grocery with the goal of setting the standard as a sustainable grocer. Twenty-five years later, growing membership and an increasing customer base rendered the meager and dimly lit 2,400-ft2 space a liability to retail and office operations. In an effort to alleviate these constraints, People’s decided to renovate their existing space and grow the building to 5,400 ft2 incorporating innovative sustainable features along the way that range from a geothermal heating and cooling system to partially vegetated rooftops. Total project cost was approximately $900,000. From start to finish, People’s expansion demonstrates the value of viewing the building holistically and executing an integrated design process.
The renovation of People’s Food Co-op is an expression of the member’s environmental and social consciousness. From the composition of the project’s mission statement to the diligent effort to obtain permits for the rainwater harvesting system, People’s actively involved all impacted members of the community throughout the design and build process.
The beautifully constructed cob community space in the store was built by an almost overwhelming number of project volunteers. Importantly, extra time and funding was allowed, up-front, for value-additive features and potential bumps in the road that are often inherent in design innovation. Innovative alternative transportation management planning enabled the project to actually reduce the amount of automobile parking while increasing the total area for bike parking! This organic approach coupled with People’s unyielding dedication to the project’s sustainability resulted in a building that articulates the potential for symbiosis between humans and the built and natural environments.

Project Highlights:
  • Uniquely designed solar cob wall that integrates glass bottles
  • Rainwater harvesting for irrigation and, someday, toilet flushing
  • Diversely planted ecoroof
  • Geothermal heating and cooling of building and "stack" ventilation
  • Substantial volunteer and neighborhood participation
  • Climate responsive orientation, design, and materials
  • Comprehensive transportation planning
  • Over 90 percent of construction and demolition waste recycled
  • Community-friendly building design
  • Consistent communication with all impacted parties