Sustainable green roof for rainwater harvesting system that recirculates collected rainwater in toilets.

5 Ways to Run a More Sustainable Nonprofit Kitchen and Shelter in Portland

At Blanchet House of Hospitality Earth Day is every day. Our mission compels us to better the health and well-being of the people we serve and that means caring for the environment we share too. From our nonprofit meal program’s kitchen to our building’s construction we have incorporated sustainable living practices to lessen the negative impact on the environment.

Operating sustainably means we are reducing the number of resources needed to run our programs by doing the following:

Green roof for rainwater collection at Blanchet House.

Green roof for rainwater collection and resident relaxation at Blanchet House.

Green Roof for Rainwater Harvesting

An estimated 63,000 gallons of rainwater can be collected from Blanchet House’s green roof. Rainwater harvesting creates an alternative water supply that stores rainwater for later uses like toilet flushing. Blanchet House estimates that well over 150,000 gallons of fresh water are saved every year by using a rainwater harvesting and recirculation system. The small plants on the green roof also work to capture airborne pollutants and filter noxious gases. Learn more about our transitional housing program.

Chef Shannon Chasteen inspects all donated fruit like these apples to help keep a sustainable nonprofit kitchen.

Chef Shannon Chasteen holding surplus apples donated from a local grocery store.

Rescue Surplus Food from Local Businesses

Blanchet House helps reduce food waste in Portland by collecting overstocked surplus food from grocery stores, restaurants (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s), and wholesalers. In 2020, we kept more than 63 tons of surplus edible food from going to waste. Our chefs inspect all gleaned food for quality then prepare delicious meals for our food-insecure guests every day. We also share surplus food with local mutual aid groups and partner organizations like Feed the Mass, Meals to Us, and PDX Free Fridge. Learn more about our food rescue program.

A resident of Blanchet Farm pets a pig kept for therapy and to reduce food waste in the nonprofit sustainable kitchen.

A resident of Blanchet Farm pets a pig kept for comfort and to reduce food waste.

Food Waste Reduction in Nonprofit Kitchen is Sustainable 

We strive for a zero food waste sustainable kitchen. Blanchet House composts all food scraps, unused food, and leftovers by turning them into feed for farm animals at Blanchet Farm and other farms. Food scraps are collected daily then heated to eliminate harmful bacteria before being fed as slop to pigs. Goats, ducks, sheep, and chickens also help with sustainability by eating grains, bread, fruit, and vegetables. In 2020, the animals at Blanchet Farm kept more than six tons of food waste out of landfills. Learn more about our food reduction program.

A resident of Blanchet House loads food scraps on to a truck to help the nonprofit kitchen be more sustainable.

A resident of Blanchet House loads food scraps onto a farmer’s truck.

Recycling Program

A comprehensive recycling program to manage the disposal of cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, and metals is also critical to the operations of a sustainable nonprofit. The residents of our transitional housing program sort and collect recycling every day from our nonprofit kitchen and facilities helping to meet sustainability goals.

Construction of Blanchet House begins in 2011.

Construction of Blanchet House begins in 2011.

Energy Efficiency

In 2012, a new LEED Platinum Certified Blanchet House was constructed to replace the original, now dilapidated structure next door. SERA Architects and Fortis Construction focused on erecting a building that utilized sustainable design and construction practices that would positively benefit operations. The new greener building helps achieve a high percentage of water, energy, and cost savings giving the Blanchet House more money for programs that directly help people in need.

  • Energy efficiency measures include an improved thermal envelope, reduced interior lighting power density, daylighting and occupancy sensors, and a high-efficiency boiler.
  • More than 75 percent of the total wood-based building materials were harvested from FSC certified forests.

Learn more about the constructions of Blanchet House’s LEED Platinum Certified building.

How to Help Someone Experiencing Homelessness

Beekeeping at Blanchet Farm

Jordan Shahrazi, a beekeeper in training, at Blanchet Farm. Photo by Julie Showers.

How-To Make Hygiene Care Kits

Surplus Food Rescued from Local Businesses

About Blanchet House

Our History: Started in 1952 by a Group of Friends

Some of the founders of Blanchet House of Hospitality in the old kitchen circa 2011.

Some of the founders of Blanchet House of Hospitality in the old kitchen circa 2011.

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