Smithsonian Associates’ fourth annual tour focusing on how Washington is becoming a greener city spotlights innovative approaches to the environment and sustainability that have taken root in many types of buildings all around town. Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies and architecture serves as the day’s guide.
Start the day at the headquarters of the U.S. Green Building Council, a LEED Platinum office. Staff members outline how natural elements and locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials contribute to a design that maximizes daylight, energy efficiency, and water-saving strategies. Afterward, enjoy lunch in the private dining room of Oyamel, a Jose Andres restaurant, as well as a guided look at its new rooftop gardening program.
The afternoon begins at Potomac Plaza, a residential building where 20,000 square feet of vegetation surrounds a rooftop terrace that overlooks the Watergate and Kennedy Center. Next, get a special tour Sibley Hospital, where efforts to reduce energy usage, cut waste, and choose environmentally friendly materials have earned the health care campus recognition as one of the 50 greenest hospitals in the nation, as well as two LEED Gold certifications. Sibley’s employees are going green, too, planting vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens and giving imperiled honey bees a home in hives on one of the hospital’s green roofs.
The day concludes with a visit to the University of the District of Columbia, where a team presents an overview of the green roof movement and its environmental benefits, and then offers a look at UDC’s urban agriculture farm, a unique project that is part of the university’s Urban Food Hubs initiative.
No fringe stop. Program includes lunch at Oyamel and afternoon refreshments.
The 7,000-square foot plot above Oyamel—with just 4 inches of soil depth—was the pilot project for Up Top Acres, the first commercial rooftop farming business in the District. Washington City Paper reported on the trio of locals behind the venture.
Get a close-up view of the variety of plantings that make up the eco-friendly roof at Potomac Plaza.