The $5-million, 8,500-sq-ft Founding Farmers restaurant is the first restaurant in Washington, D.C., to be awarded LEED certification of any type and the first full-service, upscale-casual restaurant in the country to earn LEED gold.

Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.
Photo Courtesy of Michael Moran Photography

Founding Farmers will also function as a green restaurant as sanctioned by the Green Restaurant Association.

The restaurant was able to achieve LEED gold for commercial interiors despite its location atop a base building that was not built with sustainability in mind.

The existing building has large, double-story glazing that allows excess daylight but receives direct sunlight, increasing cooling requirements. The base building does not use grey water, have a green roof, use geothermal heating or employ any other current sustainable systems that help reduce consumption. Therefore, the Founding Farmers project team was limited to the design parameters of the interior space.

To resolve these issues, the Forrester Construction team focused on the largest energy-consuming appliances—particularly the refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers—to reduce operating costs. Energy Star equipment was used as much as possible to reduce energy consumption and motorized semitranslucent blinds were installed on all west-facing windows. An Energy Star-rated dishwasher helps the owners save an estimated 27,393 kWh of electricity and 92,112 gallons of water per year.

Extensive use of reclaimed materials is one of the highlights of the restaurant’s innovative architectural design and earned the project both LEED resource reuse credits.

Key Players

Owner/developer: North Dakota Farmers Union, Jamestown, N.D.
General contractor: Forrester Construction Co., Rockville, Md.
Architect: CORE, Washington, D.C.
Civil/structural engineer: Tadjer Cohen Edelson Associates Inc., Silver Spring, Md.
Mechanical/electrical engineer: FACE Associates Inc., McLean, Va.
Structural steel contractor: Thrifty Iron Works Inc., Hyattsville, Md.
HVAC contractor: Maloney Aire, Laurel, Md.
Plumbing contractor: R. V. Carey’s Plumbing & Heating Inc., Rockville
Electrical contractor: W&W Electric Co. Inc., Silver Spring

The restaurant has reclaimed heart-of-pine wood flooring from North Carolina, which was made from reclaimed support beams salvaged from the textile mills. The salvaged beams were de-nailed, cut into blank pieces of lumber, kiln dried, then molded into tongue-and-groove flooring.

In addition, reclaimed brick was used and elements of an old barn door from West Virginia form portions of the interior wall.

Key trades had to be identified that could assist the design team in the selection of sustainable material products that met the criteria for LEED certification and were within the project budget. For example, a millwork subcontractor was brought in during the design phase of the project to assist the design team in the selection of products.