GPW: The Ramona Apartments

December 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm Project of the Week: 12/05/11
The Ramona Apartments
Portland, OR, USA
31,600 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2011
Owner: Turtle Island Development, LLC
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Building Type: Multi-Use
Type: Extensive, Test/Research
System: Custom
Size: 31,600 sq. ft.
Slope: 2%
Access: Inaccessible, Private

Project Description & Details

The Ramona Apartments is a new mixed-use, LEED-Gold certified midrise apartment building consisting of six stories of wood-framed construction over a concrete podium.   It includes 138 affordable apartments and ground floor facilities leased by Portland Public Schools and the Zimmerman Community Center.

The Ramona’s roof holds both a 30kWh photovoltaic array and 64 solar hot water panels over the ecoroof, receiving the City of Portland’s Ecoroof Incentive which funded $5/sf.   Two different soil types were installed, each 3.5″ deep, and 26 species of potted succulents and grasses were planted.   The City of Portland provided flumes at two of the roof drains and will monitor the amount of stormwater released to the storm system.   In the summer, the soil and plants are expected to keep the surface of the roof cooler and reduce the build-up of heat in the attic space and improve PV panel efficiency.  Low irrigation rates will be tested on different zones by the City because it’s anticipated that the solar arrays will provide enough shade for the plants to sustain themselves.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Landscape Architect: Viridian Environmental Design, LLC
Architect: Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects
Sustainable Design Consultant: Harper Houf Peterson Righellis, Inc.
Sustainable Design Consultant: AECOM
General Contractor: Walsh Construction Co.

Additional Info

The Ramona is 6 stories with 138 apartments and 14,444 square feet of ground floor community facilities.  Subject to income guidelines, the Ramona has affordable apartments that are large enough for families with children, a school and community center on the ground floor, and free underground parking for most apartments.

Apartments here are available to households earning up to 60 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI) for the Portland metropolitan area – income levels are published once per year by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It’s centrally located close to shopping, parks, the Portland Streetcar, coffee shops, and bike trails in the Pearl District near downtown Portland, Oregon.   Because of its close proximity to schools, public transit and many other amenities, the Ramona has a Walk Score rating of 91 (out of 100).   And the apartment complex is focused on meeting the Architecture 2030 goals for reducing energy use.

“The Ramona’s carefully engineered envelope and mechanical systems are not only good for the planet, but they also translate into lower monthly utility bills and make a healthier living space for you and your family.   We believe you will be proud to live here.” ~ The Ramona Apartments Greenbuilding Features

Click on each to learn more about some of the green features of the Ramona:

“¢ Insulation and air tightness
“¢ Energy-efficient equipment and fixtures
“¢ Air-quality and ventilation systems
“¢ Renewable energy
“¢ Water efficiency
“¢ Stormwater strategies

Of course the large greenroof, or ecoroof as they’re more popularly known in Portland, falls under the stormwater strategies section, which also includes various landscaping, planters, and filtration systems to cleanse and reduce or slow down the runoff; and an infiltration swale half a block long on Quimby Street.   All in all, these strategies are expected to treat 100% of the property’s stormwater.

The Ramona’s roof is the largest continuous ecoroof in the City of Portland at 31,600 sf (The Meriwether has several ecoroofs that total 41,400 ft ²).

It also holds both a 30kWh photovoltaic array, expected to generate enough energy to run the Ramona’s elevators and hallway lights, and 64 solar hot water panels over the ecoroof, which will supply approximately half of the building’s hot water.

Since the building is a wood-frame structure, weight was a big factor here, as evidenced by the shallow growing media depth of only 3.5″.   The custom designed ecoroof is a test or research greenroof monitored by Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services for the two types of soil mixes along with stormwater issues and more.

Here are some observations from the design and construction phase from the Ramona Apartments Ecoroof Final Report of April 18, 2011:

“We first installed an eco-roof about 10 years ago on Buckman Terrace Apartments. The level of knowledge in the field has changed dramatically since then. However, it still has a long way to go. In designing this roof, we encountered widely varying opinions among the city, the designers, the manufacturers, and the installers about the best products and methods to use. BES needs to continue its efforts to collect data, share results, and foster communication in the industry.” ~ Ramona Apartments Ecoroof Final Report

The greenroof’s total cost was $384,130 and under nine dollars per square foot, including structural modifications to accommodate it. Completed on April 1, 2011, the Ramona received the City of Portland’s Ecoroof Incentive, funding $5/sf of that amount (BES Grant Request of $157,985).

Did we miss something?   We’d love to hear from you!   Click here to see more information about this project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.   See how you can submit yours here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.’s “This Week in Review” on GreenroofsTV: December 16, 2011

December 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Each week you can expect to learn What’s New here on through our “This Week in Review” video.  Here is the transcript from December 16th  and 9th, 2011 from our daughter,  Anjuli – click on the photo below to see the video, or here.  Enjoy!

– Hello, I’m Anjuli Velazquez and welcome to This Week in Review for December 16th  and 9th, 2011 on  GreenroofsTV.

–  Projects of the Week

–   Our project of the week is the Orchard Central Mall Greenwalls built in 2009 in Singapore. Orchard Central Mall is Singapore’s tallest and first vertical pure-retail mall, and has a 160m façade featuring a faceted membrane which functions as a massive media wall, adding visual vibrancy to Orchard Road. The rooftop gardens offer a great spot for dining alfresco, sipping coffee, or enjoying afternoon tea, and feature three large living walls, a balcony rail on the 11th floor, and two lower green walls on the 12th floor roof terrace.

Orchard Central Mall is a winner of the Singapore Institute of Architects and National Parks Board Skyrise Greenery Awards in 2009. The award aims to promote skyrise greenery in Singapore and to recognize the greening efforts in high rise developments by owners/developers, architects, landscape architects/designers, and landscape contract managers. VersiCell sub-soil drainage modules were used in the landscaped areas and planter boxes to facilitate efficient drainage of water and the Elmich Green Wall systems were installed on the 11th and 12th floors of the mall.

–  Our project of the week for last week was  The Ramona Apartments, in Portland, OR.   The Ramona Apartments is a new mixed-use, midrise apartment building consisting of six stories of wood-framed construction over a concrete podium. In addition to the ecoroof, the building’s courtyard contains permeable surfaces, plants, gravel and sand that are designed to filter and retain stormwater. Together with the roof, these elements treat one hundred percent of the property’s stormwater. Additional benefits of the ecoroof are the mitigation of the urban heat island effect and providing an environment for native habitat.

–  To learn more about the Orchard Central Mall Greenwalls, click on our project of the week photo on our  homepage and for The Ramona Apartments, type in Project ID #1384 in the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

What’s New“

–  Our  2012 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ 12 Month Wall Calendar is now available for purchase! The Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ series combines two of our most popular destinations on The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database and Upcoming Events. It’s a great way to highlight fabulous projects and our website Sponsors, our highest level of advertising. Kudos to all the sustainable designers out there as well as the companies and organizations who back us up with ecologically friendly products and services. You can get the perfect holiday gift for your family, friends, staff and clients for only $12.95 which includes shipping within the U.S, and Canada, or a special discount for orders of 10 or more!

–  Every week we’ll be uploading a video from our Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 to our greenroofsTV page and YouTube channel. Last week we featured our Opening Keynote Address by Charlie Miller, P.E. of Roofmeadow: “A New Place.” And this week we’re highlighting the “2011 Top 10 Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design“ by Linda Velazquez and  Haven Kiers, so be sure to check them out and stay tuned for more!

Advertiser Press Releases:

–   New Green Building Product Announcement: Introducing LiveRoof ® Maxx: the Eight-Inch Deep module for the LiveRoof ® Hybrid Green Roof System.

–  Welcome to our new Greenroof Directory advertiser H. Keith Wagner Partnership out of Burlington VT!

Industry News Update

–   The City Planning Commission unveiled a proposal this week to amend New York City’s zoning code to make it easier for buildings to incorporate environmentally friendly additions such as solar panels, wind turbines and wall insulation. The package of rule changes, dubbed Zone Green, would permit solar panels, greenroofs, storm water detention systems, skylights and other green features on buildings, despite height restrictions, and would allow owners to install wind turbines up to 55 feet above rooftops on waterfront buildings and buildings taller than 100 feet.

–    Joblinks Update

Columbia-Green is looking for a Sales Manager based in the Midwest or East Coast, USA.

The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) is seeking a Greenroof Research Intern in New York, NY.

–   Over at Sky Gardens, check out Linda’s latest posts:  “Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 2: The Hot Top 10 List by Linda Velazquez and Haven Kiers,” “Order Your 2012 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Calendar Now!,” “Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 1: Charlie Miller,” and  “See all the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Videos on!“

– “Upcoming Events“

–   The Water-Harvesting Certification Training program in Phoenix takes place from February 24th to March 4th, 2012 and applications are due December 30th, 2011.

– “In the News“

–   Matt Hickman of Mother Nature Network blogs about “Evergreen homes: Green Roof House.” In his monthly series of spotlighting green residential building projects from his home state of Washington, Hickman talks about the Green Roof House and says, “When building up to accommodate a growing family, the owners of the Green Roof House not only added a second floor to their Seattle bungalow but neighbor-pleasing elements like a green roof and living wall.”

This House was showcased as part of the 2011 Seattle Green Home Tour and includes numerous green amenities like a solar PV system, a living wall, a rainwater catchment system and a greenroof. Working with a growing family who could only build up and not out, the design-build firm Batt + Lear, went up to the roof to see exactly how a 2nd story would impact the neighbors’ view. Not wanting to make any additional living space unfortunate for the neighbors or clash with the existing architecture, they decided to build the 2nd floor addition on the front half of the home and install the beautiful greenroof on the back half. Now when the neighbors look out their windows, instead of black asphalt to look at, they’ll have a lush colorful landscape.

–   Robin L. Eschler of, talks about “Green Roofs and a 300 Year Old Business: An interview with Ed Snodgrass.” Traditional farming, raising corn, cattle, llamas, Christmas trees and now greenroof plants, Emory Knoll Farms has been around for over 300 years. Ed Snodgrass, current Emory Knolls Farm co-owner, international horticulturalist, author and avid conservationist, and contributing editor here at, is carrying on the success of the six-generations-family-owned business in northern Maryland.

Today the majority of Emory Knolls Farm is supporting indigenous trees, native meadow plants, native fauna and over ninety species of birds and the nursery is the only one in North America that is dedicated just to greenroof plants. Emory Knoll Farms is currently involved in over 800 projects and has incorporated as a B-Corporation, or Benefit Corporation, and actively uses the principles of the Natural Step process, a set of four principles developed in Sweden for sustainable manufacturing. You can learn more about Ed and Emory Knoll Farms at

To learn more about these stories and new ones posted daily, go  to our  In the News or  newslinks section of our website.

–   Send us your green articles, videos and images to and share your greenroof or green wall info with the world!

– Make sure to keep up with everything by following us on  Twitter, liking us on  Facebook,  being a member of our network on  LinkedIn, and  subscribing to our  greenroofsTV channel on YouTube!

– This has been This Week in Review for December 16th  and 9th, 2011 on GreenroofsTV.  I’m Anjuli Velazquez and I’ll see you in a couple weeks with our This Year in Review!

– Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at!

*This week’s episode is sponsored by  The Greenroof Directory, brought to you by*

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!

~ Linda V.