Silver Diamond: A Look Inside the Nation’s 1st LEED Silver Baseball Stadium

view of the ballfield from the President's Club

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a backstage tour of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium. I was thrilled as I have enjoyed watching several games since the stadium opened in 2008. And last year, I wrote a blog post about the stadium, its green credentials and my pleasant surprise at the availability of healthier food choices.

The tour was coordinated by the leadership of the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SBNOW), a DC-based organization that works with companies to help them integrate environmental and social responsibility principles into their operations. The fact that Nationals Park is the nation’s first major professional stadium to become LEED Silver Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council was, obviously, of great interest to SBNOW’s membership.

The park has several features that enabled it to achieve LEED status. For example, during its construction only 17 percent of the construction waste ended up in the landfill. All of the building materials contain at least 10 percent recycled content (the steel was an impressive 90 percent). Plus, many of the building materials used on the project were produced locally.

the stadium's green roof, covered with sedum

A portion of the roof is planted with sedum, which helps absorb rainwater, provide insulation, and offer a natural habitat for wildlife. The remaining roof areas are white to help deflect heat, which reduces air conditioning costs.

inside the President's Club, bar stocked with reusable and biodegradable glassware

Throughout the ballpark, they use vegetable-based compostable cups rather than plastic or styrofoam. The bathrooms are equipped with low-flow toilets, the rooms are decorated with low-VOC paints and carpet. Air chillers are used, saving, we were told, 10 million gallons of water per year. And energy-saving light fixtures use 21 percent less electricity.

the press room, featuring low VOC carpet, paint and adhesives

The park’s close proximity to the Metro’s Green Line, the fact that 7 bus lines service the stadium, and the availability of a water taxi from Alexandria, VA and the Georgetown area of DC, make it easy for fans to take public transportation. They also offer a free bike valet service and ample bike self-parking.

the dugout, which is painted green

Having Silver status means that you have the minimum number of systems in place to qualify for LEED certification (the next levels are Gold and Platinum). This means there is more they can do to run a truly sustainable business. However, the fact that this is the first stadium to integrate green building practices is definitely to be commended.

If you are interested in a tour, they offer public tours. Or, for $300, you can arrange a private tour. The proceeds go to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, whose mission is to create “community partnerships that improve the lives of children and families across the Washington Capital Region.”

Jewelweed

While hiking in the mountains recently, I came across several patches of Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). The plants were lush, and several were about 4 feet high. I carefully picked off about two cups of leaves, stems and flowers, with the idea that I would create an infusion from them.

The plant gets its name from its leaves’ strange characteristic of resisting water — if you pour it on the leaves, the water simply beads up in balls that look like little crystal gems.

One of the medical constituents of jewel weed is Lawsone, which has  antihistamine and anti-inflammatory activity. I experienced the medicinal power of jewelweed several years ago while on a guided nature walk. I accidentally brushed against stinging nettle with my bare calf, which instantly resulted in extreme stinging pain and a raised, burning rash. The woman guiding us pointed out some jewel weed growing next to the nettle and instructed me to grab a bunch, smash it into a ball and rub it against the inflammation. It was miraculous how quickly it alleviated the pain. And the swelling went away just as quickly.

I have since read that it works equally well for insect stings and poison ivy. It also is effective in preventing poison ivy rash if rubbed on immediately after exposure to the poison ivy.

For an instant cure, you can just crush up a bunch of leaves, stems and flowers until they become juicy, then apply the poultice to the affected area. Or you can make an herbal infusion.

I made an infusion of the leaves, stems and flowers and used it to make jewel weed and calendula soap. It will be fully cured and ready for sale by the next Ballston Arts & Crafts Market, scheduled for August 14!

Save the Seeds! Ecolocity DC to host a seed saving workshop July 20

image copyright Mas du Diable

I received an email from Ecolocity DC yesterday, announcing that they will be holding a seed saving workshop next week. Ecolocity helps to educate residents and groups in the Metro DC area on how to build environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable communities. They offer networking opportunities and connect people to local resources.

Here is a description of the workshop:

Have you been growing your garden, but wondering if you’ll have to buy all new seeds next year? Worry no longer! This workshop will help you learn how to save your seeds year after year, an ancient practice that’s still just as useful today. If you already have experience with seed saving, come along as well. We’d love for you to share your expertise. This workshop will start with a short film about seed saving, include a bit of an intro about its history, and then go into a practical, hands-on workshop. If all goes well, you should be bringing some seeds home to plant in the future.

Date: July 20, 2010
Time: 7:00-9:00pm
Location: Emergence Community Arts Collective, 2nd floor, 733 Euclid Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

For additional information on seed saving, visit Seed Savers Exchange, or the International Seed Saving Institute, or see this post on Mas du Diable’s blog about other seed saving networks.

Rødgrød Med Fløde: Danish Raspberry Dessert

Before I was born, my mother undertook post-graduate studies at an international study center. Since cooking was her passion, she collected recipes from her fellow classmates reflecting a wide array of cultures. One of her favorites was a Danish berry dessert called rødgrød med fløde, mainly because she loved pronouncing it! (a Danish person once told me that the language is like speaking German under water :)

Despite her liking to talk about it, I only saw her make it once. Later in life, though, a friend shared her Danish grandmother’s recipe for rødgrød, which she simply called Danish Dessert. It is an incredibly light and delightful dessert.

Here is my version, which uses wineberries that I wild harvested in the mountains this weekend. Hungry Wolf recently posted a more traditional rødgrød recipe using raspberries and currents, and arrowroot instead of cornstarch.

  • 4 cups of berries
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (I used organic non-GMO)
  • ¼ cup sugar (I used organic fair-trade evaporated cane juice) – adjust to suit your sweetness preference
  • ¼ cup whipped cream or yogurt for garnish

Rinse 4 cups of berries and place them in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with ½ cup of water.

Cook over low heat until the berries are thoroughly mushy, stirring from time to time. This can take a while.

Strain the berries through a fine sieve, squishing them with the back of a spoon to squeeze out the juice. You should have about 2 cups of juice.

Pour the juice back into the saucepan, reserving about ½ cup of juice.

Whisk in the cornstarch until thoroughly mixed. Add the cornstarch mixture and sugar to the juice in the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to bubble. Cook for another minute or two.

Pour into a large bowl, or four individual serving bowls.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with a light coating of sugar. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt (I made fresh whipped fløde with a dash of vanilla). Bon appetite!

I found an instant German version of rødgrød (Rote Glütze) at The Silo in Connecticut, which I have yet to try (I need to have someone translate the directions for me!).


How to Make a Skin-Nourishing Herbal Salve

If you have a yard, chances are you are growing the ingredients for a skin soothing herbal infusion without even trying! Plantain (Plantago major) is considered a weed, but it also contains natural constituents that are wonderful for your skin. Violet (Viola odorata) leaves are in the same category (not to mention that the flowers are delicious in salads or syrups!).

Violet is moisturizing, toning, healing, and great for sore nipples. Plantain is good for eczema, acne, minor cuts, stings, insect bites, poison ivy itch, and diaper rash.

The basis of a skin-nourishing herbal salve is an herbal oil infusion. Gather about 4 cups of plantain and violet leaves, making sure to choose ones that are fresh and green looking, with no major brown spots, rotten areas, or major insect damage. And make sure that they have not been sprayed with chemicals of any kind.

Rinse the leaves in cold water to remove any dirt, bugs, etc. Drain thoroughly, then gently pat the leaves to remove excess water.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at the lowest temperature for a couple of hours, until the leaves are dry and crispy.

Put the dried leaves into a glass quart-sized jar, then fill to the top with olive oil (preferably organic). Use a chopstick or blunt knife to poke the leaves down into the oil and release any air bubbles. Place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the jar and screw the top on tightly. Label it with the date.

Keep the jar in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. It’s a good idea to place a dish under the jar in case of leakage. Turn the jar over from time to time to move the oil through the herbs.

Strain the oil through a sieve, lined with cheesecloth, into a glass measuring cup or top of a double boiler, squeezing out any last bits of oil from the herbs. You can throw the cheesecloth and drained herbs into your compost pile.

Add 1-½ tablespoons of natural beeswax for each ounce of oil (I used unbleached beeswax pastilles). Set the glass measuring cup in water (or the double boiler top over a water-filled bottom) and heat over medium heat until the beeswax is just melted.

Remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil. Stir unti well-mixed.

Pour into clean containers (I used tin, but you can also use glass jars), and allow to cool.

This salve can be used for all types of itches, irritations, insect bites, and minor cuts, as mentioned above. There are no known contraindications for using plaintain or violet leaves internally or externally, so this salve is safe for use as a nipple cream.

Join Us at the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market on July 10th!

I am happy to announce that Herban Lifestyle will be  participation in the 2010 Ballston Arts & Crafts Market starting on July 10th! Held every second Saturday from May through October, the Ballsotn Arts & Crafts Market is Arlington’s premier juried 100% handmade Market. It is conveniently located in Welburn Square between North Stuart and North 9th Streets, across from the Ballston Metro.

This year’s Market features many talented artists, live music, free demos and much more. Herban Lifestyle is happy to be participating in the July through October markets. For a preview of some of the great arts and crafts that will be part of the July market, please visit the BACM website.

I hope you can join us on the 10th!

Here is a list of participating artists for July: