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Pittsburgh Restaurants Serving Up Sustainability

Courtesy Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants

Pittsburgh restaurant owners, chefs and farmers have teamed with Sustainable Pittsburgh to launch the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program, which recognizes southwestern PA restaurants for their efforts in operating energy efficient and socially responsible establishments, especially as the city’s eateries garner increasing national attention.

The restaurant industry is the second largest private-sector employer in the United States, and by implementing sustainable practices such as waste reduction, water conservation and energy efficiency, the impact it has on the nation is crucial, said Rebecca Bykoski, program manager at Sustainable Pittsburgh.

She said sustainability is a growing trend in dining choices nationwide.

“Preferences indicate that well over half of consumers would pay more to eat at sustainable restaurants, and that 72 percent say they’re more likely to dine at a restaurant that sources food locally,” Bykoski said.

The timing of this program’s creation is important as Pittsburgh’s restaurant industry continues to gain national attention, said Bykoski. The city has received high praise on dining lists, including the number three spot on’s 2015 10 Best Foodie Cities.

“Implementing the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program now establishes Pittsburgh and its restaurants as front-runners in this movement to engage more restaurants in sustainability,” Bykoski said.

To qualify, restaurant owners fill out a self-assessment that asks for the business' operating information on water conservation, waste reduction and social issues like helping people in the community gain access to food, implementing fair working standards and using local farm products, she said.

Restaurants are asked to provide information about local food suppliers and farmers they work with and their most recent waste and energy audit dates. If the validation statements match the sustainability claims the restaurant makes, Bykoski said, the application should sail through.

Designations vary by the number of requirements met. Each criterion achieved earns the restaurant a certain number of points, and the end total determines the “plate” the establishment will receive, ranging from “Starter” to “Platinum.”

Certification is free for the first year, and $75 annually for every subsequent year.

Once certified, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant’s website will feature the restaurant on its Restaurant Finder page, which allows consumers to browse certified establishments in the area.