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Click here to read an updated PDF regarding the Ecotrust Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center.

Ecotrust’s Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center opened its doors to tenants and customers in Portland, OR, on September 6th, 2001. The three-story building, originally a warehouse built in 1895, was restored using several green building strategies. Ecotrust is a conservation non-profit based in Portland working to support the emergence of a conservation economy within its bioregion, the Pacific coastal temperate rainforest, which extends from San Francisco to Anchorage, Alaska. Their newly restored Natural Capital Center provides a gathering place for the discussion, creation, and distribution of environmentally and socially responsible ideas, goods and services (Eugenie Frerichs, personal communications, 2001. Read Eugenie’s complete Ecotrust Project Case Study here).

Covering the second story roof of the Natural Capital Center is an extensive greenroof with 5,123 square feet of engineered soil and native plants, installed in mid-September, 2001. The extensive ecoroof supports two inches of growth media, and by Spring 2002 will host several native species of grasses, wildflowers, and succulents. Excess stormwater from the ecoroof will flow into bioswales in the parking lot, resulting in a thorough stormwater management plan for the building. Eugenie Frerichs of Ecotrust researched and designed the layout and installation of the ecoroof, selecting the German Famos system distributed by W.P. Hickman (see The Greenroof Directory for info).

The custom soil mix was designed as follows: 30% sandy loam; 15% compost; 40% coarse perlite; and 15% coconut coir. When saturated, the entire system, including soil and plants, weighs approximately 12-14 lb/sf. The plant list needed to conform to particular factors, including Pacific Northwest origin; shallow root system; drought tolerance; availability; contribution of local fauna; and aesthetic value. The various native plants were installed from 3″ pots, cuttings, or broadcast seeds collected from the wild.

Ecotrust’s Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center was awarded the first gold level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for any building in Oregon on December 11, 2001 and the first gold-rated level for historic restoration in the nation. The strict standards for the silver, gold and platinum LEED levels were developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. “Ecotrust has created a landmark of national significance,” said U.S. Green Building Council President Christine Ervine, adding that the Portland area leads the nation with 18 certified projects (Read the complete LEED story here). Visitors are welcome to view the ecoroof on the third floor of the Nature Capital Center visit The website has a 22-slide show to inform visitors on their greenroof, plus many other interesting features relating to their environmental facility.


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