Last week I was out in the District (of Columbia) helping my brother Asa conceptualize a design for his recently acquired row home in the oh-so-cozy Mount Pleasant neighborhood.  It looks to be a pretty rockin’ project, with LEED Platinum Certification locked in as its target.  He is hoping to set up a blog in the near future to document the remodeling process and I’ll be sure to do a little ditty on it when it goes live…. anyway, we did a fair share of work but made sure to mix in some play, checking out some of the DC sites.  One such site that I was hoping to get to, but ended up missing was a super cool restaurant that just opened up called Founder Farmers.  It is itself LEED Gold Certified and is located three blocks west of Obama’s big white pad in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.  The 8,500 sq ft dining lair pulled out all the green stops, implementing dozens of innovative ideas in a high style package… let’s take a peak inside, shall we?


Founding Farmers pulled out all the stops in its design and business operations… here’s a quick list of eco-accomplishments:

  • LEED Gold Certification, which addresses the building and its operations.
  • Green Restaurant Association certified… This covered issues beyond the building, from composing to food selection to menus made from recycled paper and soy-based inks.
  • Energy for heating, cooling and electricity is supplemented by on-site solar panels and geothermal pumps.
  • Carbon offsets by, making the restaurant carbon neutral!


The rustic yet modern restaurant was designed by CORE, an award-winning architecture and design firm based in DC.  They did an incredible job of creating a fresh atmosphere, utilizing a plethora of green materials in their selection process.  PaperStone and poured concrete comprise the countertops, reclaimed woods line the floor and walls, low-VOC finishes promote air quality, and post-consumer content fabrics upholster the custom seats.  Playful graphics and pendant lights brought the serious factor down a notch, allowing for a much more casual experience… ya know, all those suits on Capitol Hill gotta unwind somewhere, right?

Clearly the building is pretty rockin’, but believe it or not, the coolest aspect of Founding Farmers lies behind the counter tops, solar panels, tasty food and bartenders.  The restaurant is supplied and owned by a collective of American family farms, 40,000 farmers in all, comprised collectively as the North Dakota Farmers Union.  This collaborative  approach to running the business is used as a sense of quality control, ensuring that the freshest, most local and organic options are brought to the table.  And this goes beyond the food as the drinks behind the bar reflect this commitment as well…. organic wines and vodkas, locally brewed beers, and freshly squeezed juices make for happy patrons.





All in all, a pretty cool project that spared no details in its eco-initiatives.  And from the looks of it the restaurant is doing quite alright for itself, drawing a lot of attention and publicity for its efforts.  So there ya have it…. if you find yourself wandering the streets of Foggy Bottom in the future, swing on by Founding Farmers for a tasty meal or cocktail.


About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.