With the first batches arriving in 1980, the Sierra Nevada Brewery takes its brewing quite seriously, but has a major commitment to sustainable practices as well. What sort of sustainable practices? It’s a laundry list… here are some highlights:
A 1.4MW solar installation
Four 250kW fuel cells for heat and electricity
Almost 98% waste-diversion (recycling)
Fully integrated heat-recovery systems
CO2 recovery from fermentation
50% reduction in water consumption compared to a typical brewing operation
They’ve made it a big enough deal to score a very detailed page at Wikipedia and a visit from Governor Schwarzenegger.
If you can get through all the beer and concert information, there are tidbits to find. Information on the fuel cell system [pdf] is available. There is also an on-topic interview with Ken Grossman.
The 130-ish room [self-proclaimed] “greenest hotel in the US,” Gaia Nappa Valley by Wen-I Chang (Butterfly Effect Hotels / Atman Hospitality Group) includes a… restaurant. The menu emphasizes locally-grown food.
There are a good number of reviews, and many of them describe the big plans for the Gaia brand, but even with coverage in bohemian.com, cnet, and USA Today details on sustainability features of the food service operation at Gaia are pretty sparse.
The backstory on Gaia’s development apparently starts in a restaurant – where an effort to save water caught Mr. Chang’s attention. 8 years and $20 million later, a hotel was born – and now there are more (in Anderson, CA and soon, Merced, CA).
Incidentally, Gaia Nappa Valley won the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) 2007 award of excellence for commercial canopies for Rainier Industries. Congratulations.
New to the links section, Wasted Food. Catch Jonathan Bloom’s thoughts and findings as he works on a book on food waste in America.
Some restaurant sustainability metrics are assembled by Cork and Knife
The average American meal has a shockingly large carbon footprint, usually traveling 1, 500 miles to the plate and emitting large amounts of CO2 in the process, according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Each meal created produces 275 pounds of waste a day, making restaurants the worst aggressors of greenhouse gas emissions in retail industry, says the Boston-based Green Restaurant Association [GRA], a non-profit organization that works to create an ecologically sustainable restaurant industry.
A recent NRA [National Restaurant Association] study shows utility costs are a big line item for restaurateurs, accounting for a median of between 2.3 percent and 3.6 percent of sales, depending on the type of operation.
According to Zagat’s 2007 America’s Top Restaurants, 65 percent of surveyors said they would pay more for food that has been sustainably raised or procured. According to 2007 National Restaurant Association research, 62 percent of adults said they would likely choose a restaurant based on its environmental friendliness.
Discussed in the article, which focuses on the Washington DC market, Chef Todd Gray of Equinox (Washington, DC), Chef Barton Seaver of Hook (Washington, DC), Chef Nora Pouillon Restaurant Nora (Washington, DC), Tom Holland of Juice Joint Café, George Velazquez of Napa 1015, Citronelle (Washington, DC), and Maziar Farivar of Peacock Grand. Also briefly mentioned, Sweetgreen, Le Pain Quotidien and CakeLove and JavaGreen both working with Clean Currents.
The rising cost of gasoline may impact the revenue side of the equation for food service operations, but the expense side faces a similar, if less in-your-face challenge. As gasoline prices approach the inflation-adjusted prices of the 1981 oil crisis era, global wheat stocks are at their lowest level since the 1979. With both sides of the business equation in play (and generally beyond the control of a restaurateur), efficiency is one of the few places left to wiggle.
The BBC has been on this issue for some time, and recently produced some facts and figures and personal stories. They’re still working on the story, and there are many related stories throughout the BBC. Some of their coverage generated nearly 1500 comments on the food price spiral.
From greasy spoon to designer salads, witness the transformation of a classic burger joint to a mostly-organic GRA-ceritified salad-and-froyo hut at Sweetgreen [flash].
A tiny (less than 600 sq ft) carryout restaurant in pricey Georgetown, Sweetgreen, started by three (sometimes, four) fresh-out-of-college restaurateurs (Nic Jammet, Jonathan Neman, Nathaniel Ru, and sometimes Scott Goldstein) with a bit of a restaurant legacy, features mainly salads (“chef crafted” and build-your-own) and frozen yogurt. Occupying a former Little Tavern space, the renovation includes high-efficiency lighting and reclaimed interior wood.
Media coverage was pretty hot around the opening in Summer 2007 (Sweetgreen offers their own set of clippings [pdf]).
Reviews from the Washingtonian, Washington Post, Washington Times, Washington City Paper, Hoya, American Observer, Food Arts, and the readers of Chowhound.
Other blog coverage, from Metrocurean, DC Fabulous, Restaurant News, Culture Me, DC, and, of course, here.
Taking on disposable plastic packaging (mostly), “It’s time to kick some serious plASStic” – Bring Your Own and their blog.
Whole Foods location in Sarasota, Florida (South of Tampa) achieves LEED Silver [pdf] in September 2005.
In this case, Whole Foods scores many points for their efforts on indoor environmental quality, site selection and water use reduction.
A very limited-access venue, available only to members of the Tahoe Mountain Club (and “Friends of the Goose”), the Wild Goose Restaurant in Tahoe Vista, California scored LEED certification [pdf] for commercial interiors in December 2005 based primarily on lighting and local/recycled materials use.
Some restaurants go through a lot of wine… and a lot of wine can mean a lot of cork. You should think about doing something with them.
Currently lighting up the blogs, Recycle Cork USA in York, Pennsylvania is promoting a “Korks 4 Kids” charity program to collect corks for children’s charities. There isn’t a lot of information on this organization outside the website and the various blogs pointing to it. They’ve been around a little more than a year.
[via Brooklyn Green Team]
Another option is Yemm & Hart in Missouri, which has a longer track record with a slightly different program.
It’s not the newest of ideas, and the rest of the world is at it as well… a couple other examples:
In Ontario, Canada, see Bag-A-Cork.
In Australia, see Friends of the Zoos.