By Beth Hall

The Wharf is known for its environmentally friendly architecture and features. From the beginning, the project was designed to include green roofs, rainwater collection systems and other green features. On an ongoing basis, these features help prevent thousands of gallons of water from flowing into our storm sewer and into the Potomac River.

Green roofs are one example of green infrastructure. Today, about 50% of the buildings at the Wharf feature a green roof. Green roofs have soil and plants covering the flat surface and usually feature a waterproof membrane under the soil. They work by absorbing rainfall that would otherwise run off. In the summertime, a green roof can capture up to 90% of normal rainfall.  

Additional environmental benefits associated with green roofs are reducing energy use and mitigating the heat island effect. A heat island is an urban area that is significantly warmer than rural areas due to human activities.

Some of the buildings with green roofs at the Wharf feature bars and food. Popular building rooftops include Officina, which has a flowering garden, lounge furniture and a fire pit; Tiki TNT’s rooftop is dotted with pink flamingos; Whiskey Charlie has a green roof which frames views of the rotunda.

Other rainwater collection systems at the Wharf are beneath your feet. For example, the bicycle path along Maine Ave. is made of porous rubber that allows water to reach the tree roots below. Meanwhile, underneath Wharf Street is an Olympic size cistern–a holding tank that catches rainwater falling on the road.

The quality of the environmentally friendly design features at the Wharf is set to continue on into the future. Following the completion of Phase 2, the Wharf is projected to achieve LEED Gold for Neighborhood Development. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

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