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Testing Green Ideas On Brownfields

Planners say the redevelopment of the 33-acre Zidell property on Portland’s south waterfront offers an opportunity to test some green ideas on a large scale.

Zidell Property

Zidell Property

The soil on much of Zidell’s south waterfront property was contaminated by industrial pollution. It’s what environmental agencies call a brownfield site.

The company has removed or contained contaminated soil to keep it from seeping into groundwater and the Willamette River.

A Zidell spokeswoman says now the company is working with planners to install green roofs and lots of green space.

Geraldine Moyle, a project manager for the Portland Development Commission, is looking at the potential for renewable energy and graywater recycling systems that would serve the whole neighborhood.

“Exploring systems that serve multiple buildings at once and can be more efficient in how they pull energy or water off the current systems and then use them at a district level and multiple buildings at a time is something we’re exploring at this time,” Moyle said.

The Environmental Protection Agency sees green potential in the site, as well. Krista Mendelman is an environmental scientist for the EPA. Her agency has offered its own experts to maximize the benefits of green roofs, rain gardens, and bioswales to soak up storm water.

“There’s a huge potential at the site to use green infrastructure because it’s so large,” Mendelman said. “There’s nothing there now, but as they plan it they can plan where the buildings will go where the roads will go and incorporate the green infrastructure into that. It’s really a great opportunity I think.”

Mendelman says the EPA is hoping the city of Portland can apply what it learns at the Zidell site to the redevelopment of the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

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