Last week we took a look at hotels that were making major sustainability efforts to reduce their environmental impact. This week we will visit another important hospitality industry that is making major improvements in how they do business. Restaurants are quickly learning the importance of sustainability, from using local and seasonal produce to prioritizing waste management and energy efficiency.
These changes can produce a significant positive impact, not only on the environment but also on a restaurant’s bottom line and employee morale. According to dinegreen.com, 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as environmentally concerned. A dedicated sector of this group is driving a 20 percent annual growth in the $11 billion organic food industry—no small potatoes.
Printworks Bistro was the first restaurant in the United States to attain the LEED Platinum certification in 2008, incorporating energy-saving features such as variable speed hoods that set the power according to the kitchen’s needs and adjust to a lower level of operation (typically 25 percent of their full capacity). The hoods’ sensors also detect heat, smoke, or other effluents and increase the fan speed to keep the air fresh. The restaurant used salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storm to construct its bistro bar and uses room service trays (for the adjacent Proximity Hotel) made of bamboo plywood. To top it off, Printworks’ refrigeration equipment uses geothermal energy instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.