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Building Sustainability in The District

These DC area locations and businesses each go above and beyond 21st-century sustainability expectations in their own unique way, but one thing is constant: their love for this earth and the people who live here.

Busboys and Poets
This quirky gathering hub – home to artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers alike – fights the good fight for Mother Earth by using 100 percent renewable wind energy at all DC locations, brewing exclusively with coffee purchased directly from growers and recycling their food waste into biofuel instead of just throwing it out. Fun fact: Busboys and Poets refers to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s before he was discovered for his true talent. Three locations in NW, DC and one in NE, DC; www.busboysandpoets.com

District Wharf
This waterfront destination set its sights on a LEED Gold certificate even before laying down a single brick of the development. With its expansive walkways and short distance from public transportation, visitors and residents can cut down on their carbon dioxide emission. And with green roofs, 300 new trees and preservation of mature oaks in the area, this new DC hotspot is cleaning the air at the same time. Come enjoy some sunshine and sustainability down at The Wharf. 1100 Maine Ave. SW, DC; www.wharfdc.com

The Emerald Door
This LEED-certified, green beauty spa exclusively uses non-toxic beauty products and natural ingredients during all services to give customers naturally beautiful skin, fingers and toes while simultaneously giving back to the environment. In 2016, The Emerald Door partnered with DC-based Skincando, a line of 100 percent organic skincare products, to create the first Skincando treatment and beauty boutique. Along with its product line, The Emerald Door’s spa room itself features energy efficient lighting, water-saving toilets and faucets, and tiled floor made from recycled materials. 8311 Grubb Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.emeralddoorsalon.com

Founding Farmers
Founding Farmers believes that finding a balance between making quality, accessible food while also giving back to the environment is the best way to approach sustainability as a fundamental, necessary endeavor. As part of the restaurant chain’s effort to embrace great environmental practices, Founding Farmers sources food and ingredients from local farmers, which helps support local economies and keep carbon dioxide emissions down with less shipping. They also have compostable paper straws, which totally amazed me during my first dining experience. Locations in NW, DC (a 3 Star-Certified Green Restaurant® with a LEED Gold-Certified design), Reston and Tysons, VA, and Potomac, MD; www.wearefoundingfarmers.com

MOM’s Organic Market
Prepare yourself for a long list of goodness, because MOM’s Organic Market is doing just about everything it can to help out Mother Earth. I’m just going to fire them off. In 2005, MOM’s eliminated plastic bags from all stores. Five years later, they quit selling bottled water during a campaign to eliminate all unnecessary plastic waste. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions, MOM’s has free car-charging stations at most locations. All stores are powered by solar and wind energy, and use ultra-low watt LED lights whenever possible. They even offset their customers’ gas mileage to and from their stores by collecting zip codes at checkout, calculating average round trip miles and investing the equivalent in clean air projects based on their research. There’s even more to add, but my editor says I’m pushing my word count limit. One location in Ivy City, five in Northern Virginia and a bunch more in Maryland; www.momsorganicmarket.com

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A document about the Smithsonian’s sustainable building practices quotes Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie Bunch as saying, “We have the opportunity […] to design and build a museum for the 21st century that will demonstrate our nation’s commitment to sustainable development.” With its compact design optimizing open space, 301 photovoltaic panels soaking up solar energy, an underground detention vault treating storm water before discharging it into the public drain system and more, I’d say this Smithsonian museum is the perfect role model for our nation’s progression in sustainable development. 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, DC; www.nmaahc.si.edu

Nationals Park
Did you know that Nationals Park is the first MLB stadium to earn LEED certification? Now you finally have something interesting to share at the water cooler – you’re welcome. Because Nats Park sits on the bank of the Anacostia River, the quality of storm water runoff is a major concern. To combat water pollution, the park installed screens to capture solid material from storm water in the seating area. Then, the water passes through large, underground sand filters before it’s pumped into the public drain system. That sounds like a homerun sustainability solution to me. 1500 S Capitol St. SE, DC; www.mlb.com/nationals/ballpark

School of International Service at American University
As the first LEED Gold-certified building at American University (AU), the School of International Service (SIS) reinforces AU’s commitment to the environment and community by harvesting solar energy through roof panels and using 30 percent less water through low flow faucets and toilets. The building itself is gorgeous; the open university lawn almost seems to flow right into the lobby of the SIS, bringing life and energy from the outdoors in. 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; www.american.edu/sis