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gunderson habitat ecoroof research


Project Team: Greenroof info Thinktank, Gunderson Environmental Director Dave Harvey/Client, Gunderson Environmental Manager Phillip Kolander, Gunderson Environmental Technician Fawn Lengvenis, & Oregon Audubon Society


Designing ecoroofs with the intent of providing habitat is a relatively new field. The first of its kind, this four-phase eco­logical study spans over twelve years and quantitatively measures the habitat value of ecoroofs in inner city industrial Portland, Oregon. Original habitat ecoroofs built on the Gunderson production site from 2011-2014 and modeled after native wildflower meadows were started as a response to industrial landscape protections. Following advisement on habitat design parameters and planting, the Client commissioned Desirae D. Wood to establish and compare habitat values of the four ecoroofs and two control ground sites. Over multiple phases, the study consistently finds ecoroofs designed for habitat can offer a greater value of habitat than comparable ground sites – this has been termed the ‘Gunderson Habitat Correlation’.

As the study continues into Phase 4, it will take a broader view on the habitat of the ecoroofs as the systems evolve ecologically. Comprehensive best practices have been developed through an ecological analysis of the sites. These include design parameters, an ecologically balanced native plant list, along with establishment and maintenance pro­cedures required to avoid long term development issues with ecoroofs and wildflower meadows. This knowledge will help to reverse decades of urban habitat degradation. It offers efficient, scalable, ecological and resilient urban design solutions for overlooked industrial areas. Findings from the twelve year study are being submitted to the professional ‘Landscape Architecture Journal’ in 2023.

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