The nation’s capital is known for its monuments, museums and (unfortunately) traffic. With all of the buildings and roads, it’s easy to overlook Washington DC’s green spaces — but that’s a mistake.
There are several stunning landscapes throughout DC, but what really makes them popular destinations are how they incorporate sustainable design and maintenance practices.
Visitors and tenants have come to expect sustainable landscapes from office, store and housing properties — plus, being more sustainable will save you money on the site in the long run, as well. So, if you want to increase your site’s traffic and occupancy rates, you need to pay attention to these trends.
There are even incentives for property managers to incorporate sustainable landscape elements on their Washington DC sites.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation started a green roof demonstration project back in 2003 to provide grants to Washington DC building owners, for example. The goal was to show owners the feasibility of installing green roofs on commercial buildings, according to the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE).
This focus on conservation and the environment has landed DC at the top of several green building lists, according to the DOEE:
- First city in the nation to pass a law requiring green building certification for public and private sectors
- First among large cities in LEED certified projects and square footage on a per capita basis
- First among large cities in Energy Star certified buildings and square footage on a per capita basis
But commercial sites are not only going green, they are also adding aesthetic elements during the process. Why not kill two birds with one stone, right?
Take a look at these four sustainable and beautiful landscape maintenance properties in Washington DC to get ideas for your site.
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
The largest construction project in General Service Administration (GSA) history, the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters is on the west campus of the former St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick KelleyThe project, completed by Clark Construction, earned LEED Gold certification. Here are some of the site’s sustainable features:
- 550,000 square feet of green roof space — making it the third largest in the world
- Retention pond at the lowest level of the headquarters to collect runoff and supply water to the roof and courtyard irrigation systems
- Energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems
- Courtyards with native plants and materials
Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley
Green roofs help retain and delay large amounts of rainfall that can cause sewer overflows, and they also help filter pollutants that can reach water sources. They are especially beneficially in cities like Washington DC where so much area is taken up by rooftops, according to the DOEE.
More than 40 percent of the construction materials used in the project were harvested, salvaged, extracted or manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the site, according to Clark Construction.
S2N Technology also installed low-voltage technologies throughout the property. All of these combined features help make the landscape maintenance more sustainable.
Water Street Condos
Located between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, 3303 Water Street’s condominium building is a site to see.
This nine-story, 72-unit building has condos ranging from $1 million to $9 million. It was built in 2004 and has a modern style.
The Georgetown condominium has a rooftop pool, sundeck, terraces, multi-level gardens and penthouse gardens for owners and their guests to enjoy. But what really sets this property apart from a sustainability standpoint is its 10,000-square-foot green roof.
The green space is adjacent to the electrical substation, covering the once-bare roof and obscuring the elevated highway.
The roof features meadow-inspired plantings and has a soil depth of 8 to 12 inches, according to landscape architects Oehme van Sweden and Associates. That allowed them to incorporate a wider range of plants into the green space.
George Washington University’s Square 80
The 32,010-square-foot area originally was a parking lot that held more than 30 vehicles. Now, George Washington University’s Square 80 Plaza features more than 20 trees, trellised seating, an activity lawn and several small landscaped areas. The plaza space opened in April 2010.
They used native and adapted plantings, pervious pavers and biofiltration planters to help with the site’s water management. The space has an ornamental tree grove, expansive lawn and an outdoor classroom for the university’s Sustainable Landscape program. There are also three cisterns that collect stormwater that can be reused.
USA-The George Washington University" by Ingfbruno - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The plaza also has a solar table, which is a solar-powered table students can use to charge their electronics.
All of the sustainable features earned the Square 80 Plaza, also known as the Green Plaza, certification from the Sustainable SITES Initiative. It’s one of 30 projects across the United States with this distinction, according to the university.
The project had a budget of just over $2 million, according to the Sustainable SITES Initiative. The plaza targeted 100 percent of all stormwater runoff to be retained on site.
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops
Enjoy some tranquil reflection at the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops site, which is across the street from Trinity Washington University. The property houses an office building, conference center and large parking lot.
The site was designed by Oehme van Sweden & Associates landscape architects and is more than 20 years old. It contains mostly perennials with little turf.
Level Green Landscaping maintains the prestigious landscape and provides services like mowing, fertilizing, seasonal color rotation, landscape enhancement and bed design. The property contains mostly perennials with little turf. We divide the plants as they grow and use them to fill in empty spaces, as we spread compost on 1/3 of the property each year.
Our mowers have mulch kits attached to them, which reduce the amount of fertilizer needed on the lawn because the grass clippings are mulched back into the soil.
Our team also follows best management practices, such as cutting the fescue grass at 3 1/2 inches to shade out turf weeds — limiting the need for herbicides.
We recycle all of our green waste on the property, bringing it back to our office to be decomposed. It’s important to everyone on our team to protect the environment and be sustainable.
Level Green Landscaping’s account manager James Wyble Kole has been managing the site for four years and says his favorite view is of the main entrance. There’s a large statue of Christ surrounded by ornamental grasses and flowers. It’s especially eye-catching in early spring.
Bring Sustainable Landscape Maintenance to Your Washington DC Property
Start attracting clients and enjoying the benefits of having a sustainable landscape by finding the right commercial landscape maintenance company for your Washington DC property.
You should look for a company that not only has the right experience and services for your landscape, but also one that focuses on creating sustainable properties. So before you sign a commercial maintenance contract, make sure the company lines up with your goals.
Sustainability is extremely important to all of us at Level Green Landscaping, and we incorporate green practices into all of our projects. Whether it’s updating an irrigation system to cut back on water usage or using mowing techniques that reduce the need for spray chemicals, we always look for ways to better our clients’ sites.
We provide commercial property maintenance for properties throughout Washington DC, Maryland and parts of Virginia. Level Green Landscaping services commercial properties like office buildings, homeowner associations (HOAs), mixed use, condominiums, retail, institutions and government entities.
Contact us today at 202-544-0968 or by filling out our form online to see how we can transform your landscape into a beautiful, sustainable space. You can also schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.