New Tool Speeds Adoption of Green Roofs
January 14, 2015
Oregon BEST support helps PSU researchers develop new modeling tool for Columbia Green Technologies
PORTLAND, Ore. – A unique modeling tool developed at Portland State University with support from Oregon BEST is helping local green roof manufacturer Columbia Green Technologies speed adoption of green roofs to meet legislation aimed at reducing combined sewer overflows during heavy rains and thereby grow the Portland based startup’s national market share.
The new tool is the result of a research project funded by Oregon BEST and led by Graig Spolek, a PSU professor and director of the Green Roof & Design Lab. Columbia Green uses the tool when working with civil engineers and architects who need accurate, quantitative data about how much stormwater a green roof in a specific geographical location will both retain and detain.
"This new tool has been very helpful – it's helped us open doors to some of the best engineering and architecture firms in the country," said Elaine Kearney, Technical Director at Columbia Green. "Being able to generate this kind of data bolsters our reputation as being innovative and technologically very forward looking."
Eric Zickler, an associate principal at AECOM, one of largest engineering firms in the world, said his firm uses many different tools to measure performance of their stormwater management infrastructure designs, but the Columbia Green tool stands out.
"Generally the calculators and modeling modules are generic and do not provide a high level of confidence in predicted performance," Zickler said. "The green roof stormwater management tool developed by Columbia Green is specific to green roofs and developed using both theory and empirical data for multiple geographies across varying storm intensities, making it a valuable resource in building our confidence in the stormwater management benefits of green roofs.”
The new tool, which can generate data specific to geographic areas and weather patterns, gives Columbia Green a competitive advantage when the company interacts with potential clients.
"The ability to quantify our performance with this degree of accuracy is unique, so it's a significant advantage for us," said Robin Schneider, Marketing Director at Columbia Green.
This strategic funding exemplifies how Oregon BEST, a state-funded organization that fosters technology-based economic development, helps clean technology companies collaborate with universities to advance and commercialize products to grow Oregon's green economy.
"It's been very rewarding to see Columbia Green leverage our investment in research and transform that into expanded distribution and sales opportunities," said David Kenney, President and Executive Director of Oregon BEST.
Green roofs and other green infrastructure approaches are gaining visibility at all levels of government, both in the United States and abroad, as officials try to implement policies to address aging public infrastructure. Two years ago, Vanessa Keitges, CEO of Columbia Green, was selected to sit on the President's Export Council at the White House.
"We greatly appreciate the Oregon BEST support that allowed us to take advantage of the PSU rain lab and develop a tool that's helping us succeed," Keitges said. "Local cooperation between industries and academia is recognized as a model for innovation to solve global problems."
(Photos courtesy of Columbia Green: TOP: A Columbia Green Technologies green roof on the Portland Apple Store MIDDLE: screen shot of the new modeling tool)
About Oregon BEST http://oregonbest.org
Oregon BEST is the nexus for clean technology innovation, building capability, convening collaborations, and accelerating solutions to environmental challenges that deliver prosperity in all corners of Oregon. Oregon BEST brings together Oregon’s significant R&D strengths in clean technology to support the commercialization of new products and services. Since establishment in 2007, Oregon BEST’s 250-plus Member Faculty have generated more than $135 million in research revenue from federal, industry and foundation sources to Oregon. At its four partner universities (Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and University of Oregon), Oregon BEST has established a network of nine Oregon BEST Labs, which are shared-user research facilities. Oregon BEST Commercialization Funding is competitively awarded to collaborations between entrepreneurs and Oregon BEST Member Faculty at partner universities.
About Columbia Green Technologies http://columbia-green.com
Columbia Green Technologies offers innovative green roof solutions for extensive, semi-intensive and intensive roof gardens. Cities across the world are using vegetative roofs to manage environmental issue related to stormwater, urban heat island and loss of habitat. Our products were engineered to maximize stormwater retention and create an environment for optimal plant health. We partner with leading manufacturers of waterproofing materials to offer a complete, single-source warrantied solution for every type of roof construction. We are committed to improving our environment and economy; our products are made in the USA and support low impact development, LEED building.