by: Stan Sauter, This “Green” commercial building at 3315 S.E. 19th Avenue in Brooklyn features rainwater harvesting, porous pavers, and a natural vegetative awning.

Inner Southeast neighborhoods continue to experiment with 'Green' building practices, both for residential and commercial projects. These include rainwater harvesting; cob construction; porous street pavers; and vegetative adaptations for shade, roofing, and water runoff--only some of the many green ideas that have taken root in our area. Increasingly, builders of all types are adapting Green methods into their construction plans.

A commercial building at 3315 S.E. 19th Avenue in Brooklyn uses harvested rainwater to flush toilets, and porous pavers to minimize runoff into the city sewer system. LEED Certified Architect Sam Sauter, who completed the building in 2005, also designed a unique chain-link lattice over the building's forecourt, which allows evergreen clematis vines to provide a natural shade awning. 'We purchased our roof washer from a company in Australia, (,' says Sauter. 'This gravity-operated rain harvesting system is the first of its kind in a commercial building in Portland.'

People's Food Co-Op at S.E. 21st and Tibbetts Street is currently involved in a City of Portland Green Street Project. The plan calls for installing native plantings and street trees to reduce stormwater runoff and pollutants from entering the Willamette River. The project also meets, for the first time, the objectives of managing stormwater sustainably while enhancing neighborhood safety and livability. The addition of vegetated curb extensions, stormwater planters, and street trees is expected to improve pedestrian visibility and street crossings at the site.

'The Lucky House,' a Brooklyn home at 3806 S.E. 21st Avenue, has recycled colorful cubes of glass slag from the Bullseye Glass foundry across the street into the foundation for a covered patio retreat. The structure incorporates 'cob' (mud, sand and straw) walls with recycled glass bottles and glass building bricks. Resident Lucy J. Hinds, who coincidentally works at People's Food Co-Op, points out the interior cob benches, covered oven and sculptured shelves that complete the outdoor hideaway. The recycled glass allows low-light illumination; the cob is naturally fireproof; and nearby herb plantings provide a variety of natural scents.

The area around S.E. 21st and Division Street has made good use of the annual cob construction workshops provided by City Repair and the Village Building Convergence. (These are the folks who helped create Sellwood's award-winning 'Share-It Square' street project at S.E. 9th and Sherrett Street. Check for information at: New cob benches with slanted roofs and linseed-oil weather treatment have been built along Division and Tibbetts Streets. Nearby, at 3105 S.E. 22nd Avenue, colorful ceramic mosaics ornament a lush garden in a raised cob lawn planter.

Other cob structures in Southeast include a cob sanctuary at the Ananda Marga New Day School, 1825 S.E. Clinton, and a garden shed with vegetative roof covering at S.E. 20th and Woodward Street. Nearby, in Ladd's Addition, a home at the corner of S.E. Tamarack Avenue and Hickory Street features a solar-powered straw bale house, and garden walls ornamented with recycled bottles and ceramic shards.

A unique courtyard 'waterfall' designed to recycle rainwater is located behind the Vindalho Restaurant at 2038 S.E. Clinton Street. The stainless steel sculpture recycles runoff through a baffled chute into a system of landscaped swales to redirect water back into the soil. Another artistic treatment of rainwater runoff can be seen at the New Seasons Market at S.E. 20th and Division. There, a recycled metal sculpture representing a dancing lady frolics under a 'shower' made from a gutter extension in the shape of a sunflower.

The City of Portland's Office of Sustainable Development has a focus on 'Green' building and other recycling and conservation services (see The city even offers a Home Remodeling Guide entitled 'Designing and Building a More Sustainable Home,' which can be downloaded from the Internet at: -- or can be purchased through Environmental Building Supplies, or The ReBuilding Center. The Guide offers expert tips for all budgets on topics such as renewable energy, water conservation, reducing pollution, and building with recycled and sustainable construction materials.

On September 16th, the OSD, in partnership with Metro and the Solar Energy Association of Oregon, is presenting the 'Build It Green Tour of Homes.' The Home Tour is scheduled for 11 am-5 pm, while an Information Fair with entertainment and free refreshments is scheduled from 5-7 pm at Environmental Building Supplies, 819 S.E. Taylor Street. For ticket information, visit:, or call 503/823-7222.

'Build It Green' is a self-guided tour of 20 Green homes and remodeling projects in the Portland metro area. There will also be information available on reducing waste, composting, recycling, and the 'ReMix' program--that's an acronym for 'Recycling Magazines is Excellent', a national awareness campaign to increase magazine and catalog recycling, intended to keep these items out of landfills. For more information on reducing waste, check

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