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Green Features

People’s is committed to long-term sustainability.

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We took extensive measures to build a store that lessens environmental burdens and we strive to run it with a minimum of resources.

People’s Food Co-op is proud to serve as a community model of green building and  sustainable business practices. Keep reading for a self-guided tour of our green features.  For a more in-depth study of our major green expansion project (completed in 2003) please visit the Department of Energy's study of People's by clicking here.



Cob is an earth/sand/straw mixture that is used as an ecologically friendly building material; it reduces the need for wood, steel, and toxic man-made materials. People’s made cob from local sources and used it as wall infill on two sides of the building, as well as for benches inside and outside the store. People’s was the first commercially zoned building in the nation to feature the cob wall infill. Hundreds of people joined in to help make and build with the cob.


People’s has two eco-roofs: one over the front entrance and the other over the sun room on the south side of the building. These eco-roofs do a great deal to support watershed management by dramatically reducing run-off. In addition, green roofs help to control sediment transport, reduce soil erosion, absorb pollutants from rainwater, and mitigate the “hot spots” the urban areas create.  Head on upstairs to our community room and look out the windows to get a good look at them.

Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)

People’s installed the most efficient mechanical heating and cooling system available: a GSHP.  Most heat systems use the outside air as the source of heating and cooling; the GSHP uses the earth or ground as its heat source. Simply put, we use the earth as a battery to keep the temperature comfortable in our store. Electronic controls in the building help optimize the use of the system, maximizing energy efficiency while maintaining comfort.  Some major benefits of the ground source heat pump are greater overall energy efficiency, elimination of noisy outdoor condensing units, easy maintenance and long equipment life.

Solar Chimney

A solar chimney is a passive air exchange system that uses solar radiation to move air upward.  This converts thermal (heat) energy into kinetic (motion) energy, bringing fresh, cool air in the building.

Other Energy Efficiency

Our insulation rises far above residential and commercial standards. This reduces the amount of energy needed to heat and cool our building. While our new store is double the size of our former space, our goal is to use less energy today.  We are exploring the possibility of converting some of our remaining energy usage to solar sources in the years to come.

Water Efficiency

We collect roof run-off in a 1,500 gallon cistern buried underneath the courtyard.  This water is used for irrigation and it will supply our low-flow toilets in the future. Our eco-roofs, porous ground surfaces (permeable pavers for walkways, driveways, and courtyard), and our bioswale in the courtyard guarantee zero run-off from People’s property.

Bioswales: Natural Percolators

Ours is a small dip in the SW corner of our courtyard, planted with native Oregon plants. Its bowl shape is intentional-- it holds run-off water from our courtyard until the ground can (slowly) absorb it. This means our run-off stays out of over- burdened storm sewers and keeps fast moving, heavily polluted water out of Oregon’s rivers and streams.

Support for Ecologically

Sustainable Transportation

People’s is committed to alternative transportation in an effort to reduce our customers’ dependence on fossil fuels as well as to maintain a quiet neighborhood environment. We installed bike racks that are well above code requirements.

A Resource Efficient Building:

Our Operational Practices

People’s realizes how critical it is that our green features extend beyond our building practices and into our operational practices. Some examples of our operational commitments to sustainability incude: container reuse and recycling, vermicomposting of food scraps, a free box, an emphasis on bulk products, comittment to safe and ecologically friendly foods, 100% recycled paper (both office and disposable), and more!

Eco-Building Materials

All of the materials that we used to build and design the new space were carefully selected to ensure the lowest possible impact on the environment. Examples include:

Durable Materials: Concrete floors, Wheat Board, Cob, Stone bases of Cob and Porch Piers

Recycled Materials: Metal Framing, Porch Framing, Reclaimed Wood, Paint

Forest Stewardship Council Certified Wood:
All of the wood, besides the reclaimed wood, was sustainably grown.

Less or Non-Toxic Materials: Formaldahyde-free Insulation, Non-Toxic Glues, ECQ Treated Wood, Non-Toxic Sealers, Eco-paint

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