Owners Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) show off Compass’s refillable coffee canisters.

Owners Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) show off Compass’s refillable coffee canisters.

The Greenbuild Greening Committee is working with restaurants near the DC Convention Center to help them green their operations, with support from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility and the National Restaurant Association. This blog series highlights sustainable businesses that are participating in the program.

Compass Coffee offers DC coffee drinkers a sip of sustainability with their morning java. Owned and operated by a pair of former Marines, Compass Coffee has taken steps to make their operations efficient from beginning to end.

Compass Coffee proudly proclaims its “Made in DC” philosophy

Compass Coffee proudly proclaims its “Made in DC” philosophy

In the Beginning: Sourcing Sustainably

Compass Coffee follows a “Made in DC” philosophy that emphasizes locally produced – and delicious – food and drinks. Among the local offerings are salads from Glen’s Garden Market, sandwiches from Broodjes and Bier, and Thunderbeast root beer. For their coffee, which sadly doesn’t grow in DC, they work with small and medium-size farms in Central and South America and Africa.

From Bean to Brew: Efficient Operations

Compass Coffee prioritized water and energy efficiency in its operations. From its plentiful daylight to its LED-lit sign, Compass uses efficient lighting strategies. It also invested in an energy-efficient Loring coffee roaster that reduces emissions by 80%. A Nest thermostat cuts energy use by 15%, and water-saving fixtures in restrooms maximize water efficiency.

End of the Road: Taking Out the Trash

Compass Coffee’s LED-lit sign

Compass Coffee’s LED-lit sign

Compass Coffee employs several strategies to minimize the amount of waste its operations, and its customers, create. Many of its packaging

materials, including hot beverage cups with a minimum of 30% recycled fiber and cold cups that are compostable. Its signature coffee canisters, are recyclable. However, Compass hopes its canisters never reach the recycling bin, and offers customers a discount for refills with a reused canister. In-store, Compass composts its used coffee grounds.

Compass Coffee is located at 1535 7th St NW, approximately an 8-minute walk from the DC Convention Center. You can connect with Compass Coffee on social media at @compasscoffeedc.

 Learn more about green venues and services in D.C., as well as other restaurants taking part in the Greenbuild Greening Committee’s sustainability program.

Greenbuild Greening Sub-Committee Co-Chairs

Allison Porter, LEED AP, Vice President, Sustainability Services, Cushman & Wakefield

Takehiro Nakamura, LEED AP BD+C, Associate, Perkins Eastman


Lois Arena
Senior Mechanical Engineer at Steven Winter Associates, Inc

In 2011, Cornell University had ambitious plans for sustainability including a net-zero academic building and a campus microgrid. Developers came up with a plan to build a high rise residential tower designed to Passive House standards, which will house students and faculty members. With 26 stories and over 350 apartments it will be the largest and tallest Passive House building in the world. We asked Greenbuild session presenter, Lois Arena, to tell us about session C07: The World’s Tallest Passive House: Lessons Learned.

GB: What makes you an expert in this area?

LA: I possess over 5 years experience as a PH consultant, and have certified 7 projects to date.  I am currently working on more than 1/2 dozen large scale PH projects in the Northeast.

GB: Why is the topic of your session important?

LA: This project is the first of its kind.  It is a 26 story, high rise apartment building with over 352 apartments.  When completed and verified, it will be the tallest and largest PH building in the world.  Because of this, the project team has learned valuable information of implementing PH on a large scale.  Sharing this information will be beneficial to the entire building community.

GB: Why should Greenbuild attendees attend YOUR session specifically?

LA: This session will provide perspectives from the developers, architect and consultant, creating a very rounded view of what it takes to apply the PH standard on a large scale.

GB: What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had in the green building/sustainability world?

LA: Entering the PH realm has really been the most interesting experience.  Being so new to the US, the standard is actually ahead of available technology, creating the need for some very creative thinking.  In the five years I’ve been consulting on this standard, I have seen the influx of new, high efficiency products soar, as well as the number of building professionals who are embracing this level of efficiency.  It’s a very exciting time for the energy efficient building sector.

Chris Garvin Partner, Terrapin Bright Green

Chris Garvin
Partner, Terrapin Bright Green

Greenbuild Program Working Group member, Chris Garvin, Partner, Terrapin Bright Green says that this session is interesting because “As we work on strategies to achieve 80% GHG reduction by 2050, projects like this dormitory on Roosevelt Island are critical examples of where the industry needs to quickly move. I also love the integration of building science with construction, something we see too little in our industry.”


Luke Falk

Assistant Vice President at Related Companies

New York, New York

Arianna Sacks Rosenberg

Senior Project Manager at The Hudson Companies Inc.

New York, New York

Deborah Moelis

Senior Associate at Handel Architects

New York, New York