h2. (Roof) Top Soil

SPREADING SOD ACROSS THE CITY


Eco-roofs may seem all the rage right now (you’ll find them everywhere from the Portland Building to the Hawthorne Hostel). But it was only 12 years ago that Tom Liptan installed the city’s first one on his Northeast home’s garage. Now he’s at the head of the city’s Grey to Green Initiative, which aims to increase Portland’s eco-roof acreage from 8 acres (enough to cover about 200 1,500-square-foot houses) to 51 (enough to cover over 55 Pioneer Courthouse Squares). “We have 12,400 acres of rooftops in Portland,” Liptan says. “It’s a little step on a long journey.” Eco-roofs can reduce storm-water runoff by about 50 percent annually, thus helping to prevent flooding and reducing the noxious chemicals that flow into rivers. And, although it can cost a few bucks more per square foot to install an eco-roof instead of a standard one, they last twice as long, which seems like reason enough to swap shingles for topsoil. But if not, the Grey to Green grant and incentive program, which helps offset the cost of installation, might be the final push homeowners and businesses need to garden from above. —KC


Eco-Overlords


BANISHING WASTE FROM OUR KINGDOM


Some companies (and you know who you are) have resorted to “greenwashing”—touting themselves as environmentally virtuous when they aren’t really doing all that much. But thanks to Portland-based nonprofit Zero Waste Alliance (ZWA), those organizations that want to actually walk their talk have made major strides toward a greener future. Made up of representatives from businesses, universities, and government agencies, ZWA works with companies to help them reduce waste—be it materials or energy—from their day-to-day operations. Take Widmer Brothers Brewing. Making those mind-altering ales creates 6,000 gallons of wastewater (the yeasty bilge left over from rinsing the colossal brewing tanks). But in 2004, with the help of ZWA and the Portland-based Food Innovation Center, Widmer began transforming the bilge into animal feed, saving the company about $120,000 annually and leaving ranchers with some very happy cattle. —CDB


Vacuum Pact


CLEAN YOUR CARPETS WITHOUT LEAVING A STAIN ON THE EARTH


Unfortunately, given the harsh chemicals used to zap the stains of your party guests’ uh-ohs, carpet cleaning can be a filthy business. Unless you’re named TerraClean. Since 2003, this cleaning company has been committed to unsoiling rugs using mostly plant-based solvents (which smell better anyway). Southwest Portland resident Jaym Wolfe started the company with environmental scientist Patricia Uber after his sister, who had been in the rug-cleaning business for decades, died of a brain tumor that doctors said could have been caused by repeated exposure to the chemicals used in the cleaning process. Not that TerraClean’s green mission ends with the rug beneath your feet: Company uniforms are made from sustainable and organic fabrics; its fleet of vehicles runs on biodiesel; and the heat released by the vehicles’ exhaust systems warms the water used in cleaning. All of which means a visit from TerraClean doesn’t leave you just with a clean carpet—it also leaves you with a clean conscience. —KC