The National Restaurant Association launched the pilot of Greener Restaurants—a new, national program to recognize restaurants’ environmental sustainability efforts. A limited number of restaurants have signed on to participate in the pilot before opening it to industry-wide participation in the next few months. Greener Restaurants will show operators how to save money while “going greener” and share their successes with guests.

“We listened to what our members have told us they wanted: a flexible, effective, and affordable program to help them do the right thing for the planet and for their business, and worked closely with them to develop the program,” says Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association president and CEO. “As we perfect the final program details in the pilot stage, we are working with our state restaurant association partners to introduce it industry-wide.”

The goal of the Greener Restaurants program is to help restaurant operators save money and manage costs while incorporating sustainability practices throughout the restaurant. In addition, the program will help restaurants market their efforts to “go greener” to guests both onsite and online. It was developed with the input of restaurant operators and partners of the National Restaurant Association Conserve initiative—the Turner Foundation, Kendall College, Food Service Technology Center, and EPA ENERGY STAR.

The program comprises a checklist of action items from which participants select areas of focus and build a profile on an interactive Web site ( The checklist contains both smaller steps, such as using low-energy light bulbs, and larger moves, including equipment and remodeling. The checklist will be accompanied by resources and instructional videos to help the operator implement each practice and report progress.

The online profiles will become part of a consumer-oriented Web site with a nationwide search engine that will be part of the public launch of the program later this year. Participating restaurants will also receive a door decal and other marketing materials to highlight their commitment to sustainable practices to customers.

Association research shows that environmentally sustainable practices are important to today’s consumers. Four out of 10 say they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on a restaurant’s conservation practices. And restaurants are responding: 40 percent of full-service restaurants and 31 percent of quick-service restaurants plan to devote more resources to green initiatives in 2010.

The Greener Restaurants program is an extension of the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve: Solutions for Sustainability initiative, which encourages and assists restaurant operators to increase their environmental efforts while preserving—and many times boosting—their bottom line. The Conserve Web site,, provides tips, tools, and resources to help restaurants reduce their environmental footprint and increase business.

Information on Greener Restaurants will be available in the Conserve Solutions Center at the 2010 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (May 22-25 in Chicago). New this year, the Conserve Solutions Center will showcase exhibits highlighting a range of sustainability-focused products and services. It will also feature a series of presentations and panel discussions that will explain how to put ideas into practice.