Friday, September 07, 2007

The search for Philadelphia’s first LEED-certified restaurant

So Philadelphia’s a fairly big city — the fifth/sixth largest city in country — so it should probably have at least one LEED-certified restaurant by now. (“The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.”)

Unfortunately, to the best of our knowledge (and, please, do correct us if we’re misinformed…), there are currently zero LEED-certified restaurants in the city of Philadelphia. And this is supposed to be a liberal, progressive, east coast city, right? It's time our restaurateurs get on board and lead via example.

Now obviously Judy Wicks is doing an amazing job at the White Dog Café and its eponymous foundation… but that can’t single-handedly make up for the fact that there is not a single LEED-certified restaurant in the entire city, it being almost 2008.

In a recent New York Times piece about restaurants going green, restaurants in Manhattan, San Francisco and Los Angeles were discussed as examples. None from Philadelphia.

Zagat Buzz, Zagat’s new national blog/enewsletter mashup, had a post last week about a variety of ways restaurants across the country are becoming more environmentally friendly, and what do you know? Restaurants in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and London, among others, were all cited for their efforts at making their restaurants more green (including rooftop gardens, eliminating bottled water, wind energy, etc.) — and again no Philadelphia restaurants were mentioned.

If Philadelphia truly wants to be a world class city and to completely and permanently shed the second-tier status, then it needs to be mentioned in the same breath / thought of in the same vein as these first-tier cities much more consistently.

And to do that, Philadelphians simply need to hold the city up to a higher standard across the board. There’s nothing wrong with constantly expecting the best from the city in which you live.

Like, if green restaurants are good PR for the city (not to mention its overall sustainability), then let’s get on the ball. If restaurateurs are hesitant to do it on their own, maybe it’s time for Mr. Nutter to step in and pass a tax abatement. Seriously.

But short of that happening, who will open Philadelphia’s first LEED-certified restaurant? And when?

What about Table 31, set to open next year in the to-be-LEED-certified Comcast Center. Sorry folks, the boys behind Table 31 allegedly didn’t think becoming LEED-certified was worth it and subsequently decided against it. Swell guys, thanks.

What about Stephen Starr’s new restaurant due to open on Rittenhouse Square next year, Parc — surely such a location abutting one of Philadelphia’s most prized public parks would be an ideal candidate? Alas, a LEED-certification is not on Mr. Starr’s list of priorities for Parc.

We hear Judy Wicks wants to get certified but is waiting on various energy efficiency upgrades, so we have no idea when the White Dog may achieve LEED certification.

Actually, we hear the first restaurant in the Philadelphia area to obtain a LEED certification will be an upscale organic pizza chain from Florida, called Pizza Fusion. Expected to debut in early 2008, it won’t even be in the city but in Ardmore instead.

Bummer, right? We love Philadelphia's restaurants and most of its restaurateurs
— we just wish more of them were willing to make bold progressive statements with their establishments.

It's kind of bollocks that they're not.

Somebody please prove us wrong.

It Takes More Than Veggies to Make a Restaurant Green [New York Times]
Five Paths to a Greener Restaurant [Zagat Buzz]
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) [Official Site]

[ Photo via Picnic ]


andrew said...

I think when Urban Outfitters refurbed their place in the Naval Yard (now home to Frog at the Yard:
they initially tried to get LEED certification, but it proved impossible to do so and keep the historic character of the building intact...Here in west philly, Abbraccio was built brand new a couple of years ago by socially conscious local entrepreneurs, but I assume they would promote it if the building were LEED certified. I'd be curious to know if they considered it...

Eric Haley said...

Hello. My name is Eric Haley and I'm the Vice President of Communications with Pizza Fusion. Thank you so much for your interest in sustainable restaurant practices. I'm happy to inform you that we're going our first of five LEED certified restaurants for the Pittsburgh market in the first quarter of 08 at 5513 William Flyn Highway, Richland TWP, PA 15044. Stay tuned to our website ( for further information. I'll be distributing a press release this week detailing our expansion in the Pennsylvania market. Thank you again for your interest in eco-friendly companies!

Catt said...

According to LEED, the certification standards for retail will be released sometime in 2008. They have not yet been confirmed. So, how can anyone have a LEED certified restaurant?

If restaurants want to be recognized for their green efforts, they should apply for Green Restaurant Certification from the Green Restaurant Association. It covers all aspects of operation, not just the building.