Green Theater Takes Shape

Guest blog post by Claire Mauro

CityDance Conservatory Dancer
“Brutal Beauty” Choreographed by Christopher K Morgan and Artists, Pictured: CityDance Conservatory Dancer, Photo by: Brianne Bland

Sustainable practices and dance are taking center stage at the CityDance Studio Theater at Strathmore. The 125-seat, state-of-the-art eco-friendly black box theater uses the latest in sustainable technology including solar energy, LED lighting, and electronic retractable riser seating with sustainable textiles. All of these components help increase the theater’s environmental, economic and energy efficiency.

The goal for the solar design is to have all the theatrical elements “off the grid” – the solar energy produced by the panels will provide enough power to run the theater, as well as be able to provide solar offset for the energy used by the education wing.

In addition, the theater uses non-VOC paint, non-PBDEs soft-goods for the theater masking, and developed a policy for purchasing the most eco-friendly and sustainable consumables and materials, such as costumes, cleaners, and floor tape.

“CityDance is constantly thinking of ways to give back to the community by providing transformative experiences that are both artistically meaningful and educational for audiences,” said Alexe Nowakowski, CityDance executive director. “The green theater further fulfills this goal by prompting conversation and providing a new type of educational opportunity for patrons.”

CityDance is currently partnering with Power2Give to raise money for a new sound system for this “Green Theater.”

Founded in 1996, CityDance produces and presents professional dance at venues across the DC metropolitan area; trains young dancers for professional careers; and provides free dance education programs for thousands of students each year.

Union Station Hosts Earth Month

Cherry Blossoms in front of Union Station
Union Station Celebrates Earth Month

Union Station is hosting Earth Month 2013, scheduled for April 1 through April 30. Presented by Earth Day Network and the Premier Tourist and Landmark Association, the month-long event will feature interactive, eco-friendly experiences throughout Union Station designed to raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage sustainability.

“Our commitment to the environment must extend far beyond one day,” said Kathleen Rogers, president  of Earth Day Network. “That’s why we’re thrilled to partner with Union Station to devote an entire month  to sustainability and green responsibility. Hosting the series of events over the entire month in one of the  most iconic venues in our nation’s capital allows us to engage more exhibitors and educate more people.”

Earth Month 2013 represents a significant expansion of prior Earth Day festivities held annually on Washington’s National Mall. In addition to the scheduled events, exhibitors from across the country will be on hand to highlight their own green initiatives, programs and events.  Most events are free and open to the public. Here’s the schedule:

April 1-14 – Cherry Blossom Festival Events
April 1 – Opening of the NASA Hyperwall and Image Gallery
April 6 – STEM Fair for DC Students, Grades 6 – 12, NASA Astronaut Visits
April 15–23 – Verizon Wireless Earth Fair – East Hall
April 17 – District Department Of Environment Fair – East Hall
April 17 – 18 – Earth Month Film Festival – Columbus Club (see film schedule below)
April 18 – District Department Of Environment Fashion Show – East Hall
April 22 – NASA Earth image gallery Exhibit and hands-on demos – Main Hall
April 19 and 22 – Farmers Market – West Carriage Porch
April 22 – Earth Day! Earth Day Network Events and Entertainment – Main Hall and East Hall
April 23 – Amtrak Sustainability Fair – East Hall


Greening the Arts at Wolf Trap

Guest post by Alison Drucker

The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has a unique opportunity to be a leader in environmental education. In addition to operating some of the D.C. area’s premier performance venues, it’s also a national park.

They’ve risen to the challenge with an ambitious Go Green program, which in its first two years has resulted in a 23 percent reduction in energy use, a 20 percent lower carbon footprint, and a 50 percent decrease in landfill waste.

To get there, the Foundation’s actions have ranged from the traditional (energy-efficient lighting and heating/cooling) to the creative (a carpool incentive program, growing fresh herbs for its catering business, and composting). LEED certification is in process for one of their facilities.

In addition to improving its own operations, Wolf Trap leverages its venues to inspire audiences to do their part with new sustainability-themed performances, including The Sun Road (a dance reflection on melting glaciers in Glacier National Park). The “Start Early for the Earth” program gets kids in on the action, too, with The Junkyard Pirates – a puppet show about recycling that has been presented to more than 7,000 children, parents, and teachers.

All these efforts recently earned the Foundation the 2010 Sustainability Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ National Capitol Section, along with three consecutive outstanding EPA ratings for effective recycling. And given their place at the unique crossroads of the arts and the national park system, they’ve also been recognized by the National Park Service’s Climate Friendly Parks Program.

Along with the likes of Willie Nelson, Guster, and the Roots, the Wolf Trap Foundation is a founding member of the Green Music Group – becoming part of a broader group of high-profile performing arts entities committed to environmental leadership.

The Country’s First Green Ballpark

Guest post by Alison Drucker

The Washington Nationals may have disappointed a few fans last year, but at least their stadium’s a winner. Nationals Park was the country’s first major league ballpark to be certified under the LEED green building rating system.

With the new season around the corner, the Nats have a fresh start – and you have another chance to take a look at the small placards throughout the stadium pointing out its green features. For example, efficient lighting uses 21% less energy than typical field lights and water-conserving plumbing fixtures use 30% less water, saving enough each year to fill five and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Recycled materials were used in construction, and 5,500 tons of construction waste was recycled rather than dumped in a landfill.

The park has a 6,300 square foot green roof, and other areas of the roof use highly reflective materials – both features minimize heat gain, which you’ll appreciate on a scorching hot August day at the park.

A unique water filtration system prevents debris and pollutants from entering the sewer system, which is good news for the Anacostia River. The stadium also earns green points for redeveloping a brownfield and being close to public transportation. To top it all off, in 2008 the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission offset 70% of the electricity use at Nationals Park with a purchase of renewable energy credits.

Across all sports and at all levels of play, other facilities are following suit. A search of the U.S. Green Building Council’s list of LEED-registered projects reveals more than 30 stadiums, arenas, and ballparks that high schools, universities, and professional teams around the country are looking to get certified.

Nationals Park led the way in adapting the LEED rating system – more commonly used for office buildings and schools – to the very unique needs of a professional sports facility. Sustainably speaking, at least, the Nats have hit a home run.

Up on the Green Roof

From urban heat island reduction to improved air quality and storm water management, the benefits of having a green roof are plentiful. Want to see one for yourself? Tours are available at most of the places listed here.


American Psychological Association

A re-roofing at the American Psychological Association incorporated a green roof and a meditation labyrinth with access for tenants, guests, and the public. Approximately 45,000 gallons of water will be retained on this roof during a typical year of average rainfalls. Public tours may be arranged by contacting Nancy Kiefer at

ASLA green roof
ASLA green roof

American Society of Landscape Architects

The green roof at ASLA includes two elevated “waves” formed from rigid insulation and covered with a green roof system. The waves create an attractive foliage-enclosed space and block the view of the rooftop HVAC systems. One of the waves is planted primarily with sedums; the other is planted with drought-resistant perennials and grasses as well as sedums. For an appointment to tour the roof, contact Keith Swann,

Eventide Restaurant Terrace, Arlington
Eventide Restaurant Terrace, Arlington

Eventide Restaurant

This popular Arlington restaurant’s 2,800 square foot roof deck and terrace, designed by Capitol Greenroofs, features arborvitae and perennials/herbs that are used for cooking at the restaurant; concrete pavers for protection and drainage; and a 70-gallon planter that holds an evergreen tree.

Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School

Sidwell Friends School

The platinum LEED certified Sidwell Friends School is home to one of the area’s best-known green roofs. The 7,000 square foot space, completed in 2006, has vegetation that holds and filters rainwater and gutters and downspouts that direct rainwater to a biology pond that supports native habitat. Herbs grown on the roof by students are used in the school’s cafeteria.

1425 K Street NW
1425 K Street NW

1425 K Street NW

This was the first residential retrofit in Washington DC installed by DC Greenworks in 2004. This 3,500 square-foot demonstration project is D.C.’s first high elevation greenroof in a high-density commercial zone. For bimonthly tours, call 202.833.4010 or contact

Residential green roofs are also sprouting up across the city including on Swann Street, Church Street, U Street, Seaton Place, Park Place, and more. Get a birdseye view here.