The Bureau of Environmental Services, Metro and the Expo Center in a joint effort created the Green Wall on the Expo Center’s campus. It is an ingenious way to beautify a space with cement, glass and steel structures while reducing the amount of stormwater runoff produced by the 53 acre campus and the five major exhibit halls totaling more than 333,000 square feet.

Green Wall detail

Green Wall detail

Matthew Rotchford, Director of the Expo Center said they were looking for opportunities to beautify and mitigate their impervious square footage of asphalt. In the meantime, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) had secured a large grant from the EPA to fund innovative projects and was looking for potential sites, said Amy Chomowicz BES.

The Expo Center is owned by Metro regional government. Metro’s mission includes a commitment to steward natural green spaces around the region as well as applying the highest sustainability principles across all of its venues and programs.

Both agencies had been looking for opportunities to work together, too. The Expo Center stormwater green wall isn’t a traditional bioswale or garden that inhabits a lot of expansive space. Instead, it’s a site that requires use of a lot of vertical square footage.

Standing 30 feet tall and 60 feet long, the free-standing structure is made of steel and aluminum and is adorned with soil and vegetation native to Oregon, particularly from the Columbia River Gorge, according to Mike Faha of GreenWorks, which took the design lead on the project.

What’s more, no pumps are used to flow the water through its travel channels.

Green Wall on the Expo Center’s campus

Green Wall on the Expo Center’s campus

So far it has worked well.  Rotchford says that everyone will evaluate the project and decide if it can, and should be, duplicated by others. “Another hope is that the science behind this innovation will be something that brings architects and designers from all over the world here to Portland. They’ll get to see what was among the first of its kind ever to be created.”NT