Earlier this week, B.R. Guest Restaurants completed the Green Restaurant Association’s (“GRA”) certification program for all twelve of its New York City restaurants (Atlantic Grill, Blue Fin, Blue Water Grill, Dos Caminos Park, Dos Caminos Soho, Dos Camino Third, Fiamma Osteria, Vento Trattoria, Ruby Foo’s, Ruby Foo’s Times Square and Level V). B.R. Guest now calls itself the country’s first multi-concept-certified green restaurant group.
The GRA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1990 and assists restaurants in becoming more sustainable. It confers Certified Green Restaurant status on eateries that sign its contract, replace all Styrofoam products and all products accepted by local waste management companies, and commit to completing four Environmental Steps each year. These Steps are recommended by a GRA consultant who visits the restaurant and completes an environmental assessment, recommending the Steps that the eatery execute during the pending contract year. GRA’s membership contract is available for download here.
GRA’s certification should not be confused with LEED, which invited restaurants to participate in its LEED for Retail Pilot Program. The 2006 BD+C Green Building White Paper devotes Chapter 6 to “Restaurants on an Energy Diet,” and articulates the food service industry’s concerns that its energy requirements (significantly higher than other retailers) should entitle it to its own LEED rating system. On page 27, the White Paper refers to Brinker International (Chili’s, Maggiano’s, the Macaroni Grill) which “builds at least 100 new restaurants per year and favors having a unique LEED program for the foodservice industry.” The White Paper notes that McDonald’s earned LEED Gold in Savannah, Georgia under LEED for Core and Shell, and while that’s “great,” the average McDonald’s has a life span of twenty years, so “it’s much more important to reduce process loads than to install bike racks.” However, while Brinker told BD+C that “every restaurant can name parts of LEED-NC for Retail that work against them,” the USGBC Committee that is administering the Retail Pilot Program reported that it has thus far been successful in reducing energy usage.
This is another argument in favor of overhauling the LEED system as it currently exists- either through the Version 3.0 Bookshelf System or something even more drastically different. Many of my posts describe niche construction projects that want to implement sustainable building practices- from warehouses to stadiums, for example- but default to LEED systems that are not tailored to their particular construction sector. LEED should not stand in the way of these projects and USGBC must find a way to more efficiently and comprehensively account for construction across all sectors of the industry.
- B.R. Guest Garners Green Certification (B.R. Guest)
- Green Restaurant Association
- LEED for Retail (USGBC)
- Brinker International