Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Look Back: 2011 Sustainable Accomplishments at Eat'n Park

At the end of every year I like to take some time to reflect on all of Eat’n Park’s accomplishments over the past year. We’ve had a great year and are really proud of the hard work we’ve done relating to sustainability. (We give ourselves two “green” thumbs up!)

In 2011, we...
  • Reduced the amount of waste going to our landfills (by recycling)
  • Accommodated cyclists at some of our restaurants (stop in to fuel your ride!)
  • Supported our local farmers (who doesn’t love fresh, local produce?!)
  • Became LEED-certified (think skylights and rainwater barrels)
Read more about our EcoSteps initiatives below…

Reduction of waste going to our landfills

We have been recycling cardboard at our locations for many years, but in January 2011, we instituted a recycling program that includes bottles and cans at 47 of our restaurants. This recycling program represents 384 yards or 24 tons of material annually being diverted away from landfills. We would love to incorporate this element at ALL of our locations, but recycling programs aren’t available in all of the communities that we have restaurants. We continue to encourage more areas to offer a comprehensive recycling program.

Smiley visits a local recycling center
Health and Wellness

The Steel Valley bike trail of Allegheny Passage follows the shores of the Monongahela River, through historic battlefields and former steel mill sites in Homestead, Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport, Glassport and Clairton. When this section of the trail opened in June 2011, we realized that the restaurants we have in the area don’t have places for cyclists to park their bikes. So, we’ve installed new bike racks along the trail next to our Waterfront restaurant location.

We know at this point in time it’s not practical to have bike racks at all our locations, but we’ll install them where it makes sense. At this time we have them at the following locations:

Waterfront – Homestead, PA
Waterworks – Fox Chapel, PA

New bike racks at our Homestead location

So if you’re out cycling in Homestead or Fox Chapel and you’re looking for a place to eat, remember that we’ve got a place to park your bike! If you know of other locations that need a bike rack, please let us know. In early spring, we’ll be installing racks at our McKeesport restaurant, which is also along the Steel Valley trail.

FarmSource Local Sourcing

Eat’n Park Hospitality Group’s FarmSource® program, which started in 2002, is thriving today as a company-wide initiative. This year our FarmSource program purchased over $18 million in local foods throughout the communities that we serve. This program encompasses dairy, produce, local artisan producers and meat. One of the great FarmSource successes this year was local cherry tomatoes from Yarnick Farms in Indiana.

We also were recognized nationally for our FarmSource program. This year Regis Holden, our Senior Director of Culinary Services for Eat’n Park received the United Fresh, Produce Excellence in Foodservice award, which honors the foodservice industries most innovative produce performers. Regis received this award for his exceptional work in incorporating fresh produce on our menu and for his engagement in community outreach.

Regis is one the chefs who works with the Community Food Bank on their Farm Stand project. The Farm Stand project is in place to provide low-income neighborhoods traditionally underserved by full-service grocery stores. Each week the one of our chefs complements the produce for sale with nutrition education and weekly cooking demonstrations with recipes and samples using local produce to encourage healthy eating.

LEED-Certified Gold Eat’n Park

Our Fox Chapel Eat'n Park Restaurant in the Waterworks shopping plaza opened last summer, and this year, it became the first restaurant in the city of Pittsburgh to achieve a LEED Gold certification. The restaurant features skylights that amplify natural light, LED lighting, an Energy-Star rated kitchen, barrels to harvest natural rainwater, bike racks, and a wind-turbine system that generates 2,000 kilowatt hours of wind energy a year, which equates to about 1/3 of the annual energy used by an average household.

So, what does LEED Gold Certification mean? Let me explain. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally-recognized green building certification system that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). They have multiply levels for their certification; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. After the construction of a LEED building it then is evaluated by the USGBC to determine the level of certification, and our restaurant was certified as Gold in June 2011.

On the horizon

So what are we doing now? Through the construction of the Waterworks Eat’n Park, we learned quite a bit about building a green restaurant, and we’re now implementing LEED components into new construction projects. For instance, our newest restaurant, The Porch at Schenley (located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood) has many cool green construction components, like a green vegetated sedum roof over a 1/3 of the building and a rain barrel that collects water to be used to irrigate our rooftop garden that will starting growing some of our veggies in early spring.
Our newest restaurant concept, The Porch at Schenley Plaza
The Porch's "green" roof
Rain barrel at The Porch

These are some of the highlights of our initiatives and, of course, we plan on doing more in 2012. If you’ve got some suggestions on areas that we can green, I would love to hear from you.

Until next time,
Jamie

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