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.

Relax and Give Back for Earth Day

Feeling stressed out about how to celebrate Earth Day? Nusta Spa has a relaxing solution. Between April 18-24, the country’s first LEED certified spa will donate 10% of all proceeds from spa services and retail sales to Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests throughout the world.

Founder Elizabeth Snowdon opened the spa in May, 2004 after a trip to the Inca city of Machu Picchu. It was in Peru where she found the inspiration to build a luxury “natural” day spa that would honor the principles of environmental responsibility while still catering to Washington’s downtown clientele.

“I was always under the impression that ‘going green’ meant sacrificing the luxuries that we expect at day spas, but after learning more about sustainable building practices, I realized that I could create a warm, healthy environment that still felt luxurious,” says Snowdon.

With the help of a DC architect and sustainable building experts, Snowdon realized her vision with an eco-spa that incorporates virtually all environmentally-friendly materials, including Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood flooring, Energy Star appliances, LED efficient lightening, and more. Nusta even carries its own organic skincare line that is free of allergens and unnatural chemicals.

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.

Green October

solar decathlonOctober may be the month known for pumpkins, costumes, and trick or treaters, but it’s also brimming with green events that you won’t want to miss.

Wednesday October 7th

Green Building Policy and Design: Best Practices from Switzerland

A panel of experts will discuss the practical aspects of constructing green buildings in the U.S. and Switzerland.

Cost: Free, but RSVPs are essential (email:
Location: The Embassy of Switzerland, 2900 Cathedral Ave.
Time: 6 pm

Friday October 9th

Extreme Green Gala

The event, which benefits CarbonFree DC, will feature high-profile environmentalists, organic food, a $5 cash bar (beer, wine, whiskey), two live bands, and an environmental art show benefiting WVSA youth art program.

Cost: $25
Location: Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave NE
Time: 6:30-11:30 pm

October 9-13 and October 15-18

The Solar Decathlon

University teams from around the world compete to design and build homes that run entirely on solar energy. The teams ship their partially constructed homes to the National Mall, assemble them, and then compete in 10 contests.

Location: The National Mall

Saturday October 10th and Sunday October 11

The Green Festival

The granddaddy of green events returns to DC with more than 125 speakers and 350 green businesses, as well as how-to workshops, green films, a Fair Trade pavilion, yoga classes, organic beer, organic cuisine, and live music.

Cost: $15
Location: Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW
Time: Saturday 10-7, Sunday 11-6

Thursday October 15th

Planting Empowerment Fundraiser

A happy hour to spread the word about Planting Empowerment, an organization that works with rainforest peoples in Panama to make conservation profitable.

Cost: $5 donation (includes free drink) or $10 (free drink plus an chance to win a $50 forest savings bond)
Location: Chi-Cha Lounge, 1624 U Street
Time: 5 to 8 pm

Saturday October 17th

Urban Composting

Put those worms to work and learn how to recycle your yard and kitchen waste, even if you don’t have a yard.

Location: Greater Goods, 1626 U Street NW
Time: 11 am

Friday October 23rd to Sunday October 25th

Introduction to Urban and Community Food Gardens

Spend a weekend learning the basics of urban gardening, garden design, and starting a community garden.

Location: Common Good City Farm, 2025 Elm Street NW
Time: Friday, 6-9pm, Saturday, 9am – 5pm,  Sunday, October 25th 9-4

Playing in a Sustainable Schoolyard

SpongeBob lunchbox? Check. Miley Cyrus binder? Check. Sustainable schoolyard? Check! Complete the back-to-school ritual with a visit to the Sustainable Schoolyards display, part of the One Planet—Ours exhibit, at the U.S. Botanic Garden until October 13, 2008.

The Sustainable Schoolyard Exhibit includes:

  • solar features
  • water systems
  • edible gardens
  • wildlife habitat
  • green building
  • waste as a resource

Each part of the exhibit can be used to teach children about math, science, and of course, the importance of green communities for our health and the planet’s well-being. It’s a great opportunity to get them away from the TV and XBox and into nature.

Interested in learning more about how to green your schoolyard? Visit DC Schoolyard Greening. It features examples of what schools in our area are doing to promote greener living and sustainability such as planting herb, wildlife, and vegetable gardens; building green roofs; implementing composting programs; building birdhouses; and more.