This spring, our flagship store and cafe in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia was officially granted LEED Platinum certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a national certification system that encourages the construction of energy and resource-efficient buildings that are healthy to live in. It’s a meaningful new logo to have on our door, considering that only 2% of buildings in the city are LEED certified (as reported by Phillyvoice). We’re the only commercial retail store in Philadelphia to be LEED Platinum certified. And we’re patting ourselves on the back because boy, it was a long process.
The LEED application took over two and a half years of tireless attention to every detail in the construction process. We started planning for LEED before the blueprints were finalized. It taught us the intricacies of environmentally-friendly design and the beauty in reclaimed and salvaged materials. We had experts inspecting every material, from the stain on the wood to the adhesives used in the kitchen. The process forced us to give up on some design expectations, and it led us to discover new ways to use old materials. In the end, we can be confident that we’re housing our store in an environmentally-friendly, thoughtfully-designed building that is a perfect match for our company's ethos.
While we’re extremely proud to have the LEED stamp, what’s really cool are the stories behind the parts and pieces that make up Flagship. From the chestnut beams to the reclaimed mirror, many of these materials had a past life. Here are a few of them.
Coffee Bar The black slate that lines the perimeter of our coffee bar first spent decades as chalkboards in Philadelphia public high schools. We’re happy we could put a new use to them after the schools upgraded to white boards or Smart Boards. The countertop is live edge black walnut, which we harvested from a naturally-felled tree just outside of the city.
Chestnut Beams These beams are from a barn in Maryland built sometime in the 1700s. If you look closely, you can see cut marks, which are from the chisel that originally hand-sculpted these from a chestnut log. We used a local company to help us source salvaged wood, and when they brought us to Maryland to check these out, we knew they were perfect.
Lighting Our Edison-style lightbulbs, along with the rest of the lighting throughout the store, are LEDs, which consume 75% less energy than a standard light bulb and will last 40% longer!
Mirror Our bathroom mirror is over 100 years old, but you’d never know it. We rescued this from an old factory in Philadelphia.
Bathroom sink Our sink trough is made with Virginia soapstone, which is quarried naturally, without the use of any chemicals, making it much easier on the earth than alternatives like granite and marble.
Stalls Our bathroom stalls are made with reclaimed redwood, which was originally used in the construction of water tanks made in Philly. When redwood became illegal to harvest, they started making tanks from Alaskan yellow cedar (which you’ll see in our changing rooms). Once the tanks passed their 30-year lifespan, they were disassembled and brought back to Philadelphia. We then salvaged that wood in order to make these stalls. The chicken-wire glass in the door is reclaimed from old Philadelphia factory windows.
Low flow toilets and faucets The toilets and faucets at United By Blue have embedded technology that helps us conserve water. Each toilet helps us save 6,000 gallons of water annually, while the aerators in the faucets help us save 2,000 gallons annually!
Ceiling As a nod to our roots, our ceiling was built to mimic the exposed beams and floorboards from the original flagship store down the street. All the wood was reclaimed from a Baltimore row home, and what you see when you look up is the underside of the original flooring.
Energy Star The kitchen was one of the toughest places for us to stay within LEED standards. Today, 90% of all appliances, including the refrigerator, are Energy Star certified, which means they help conserve energy and emit less greenhouse gas than standard appliances. Our kitchen staff composts scraps so that we can churn out high-quality food throughout the day without the waste creation that many restaurants consider unavoidable.
Changing Rooms The walls of our changing room cabins were built with Alaskan yellow cedar. Like the bathroom stalls, this wood was reclaimed from old water tanks that were originally built in Philadelphia by the Hall-Woolford Tank Company, which was established in 1863. While one side of the cabin is incredibly worn from decades of weathering Philadelphia’s seasons, the other is completely smooth, having been sheltered from the elements as the inside of a water tank.
Tables and Chairs The tables in our cafe are made with reclaimed pine, and the benches from reclaimed poplar. Our chairs were made by a local Philadelphia metalworker.
If you haven’t been in our new store, come say hi and check it out. And if you’re not in Philly, take a virtual walk-through!
205 Race St
Old City, Philadelphia 19106
Monday–Friday: 7am - 7pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am - 7pm