Welcome to the Bethesda Green - Greening Restaurant Program!
This page is devoted to helping local area restaurants green their business practices and create a more sustainable way to serve healthy, delicious and top quality food to the surrounding community. This program launched in June 2013 in the hope that it can be replicated as a model for other cities and towns working towards lowering their carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable community to live, work, play and EAT!
Bethesda, MD is a unique area located just outside the nation's capital of Washington, DC. Home to nearly two hundred diverse and delicious restaurants, it seemed only natural to launch a greening restaurant program right outside our office door!
We hope you find this page useful as a first step, or possibly even a second or third step towards making your restaurant more earth-friendly. We have done a ton of research to help save you time and money. There are so many incentives to go green and although the resources listed below are just a start, we hope you will find them useful as you begin the road to sustainability. There are several local restaurants who are already making great strides to green their business (to name a few, Chef Tony's, Yamas Mediterranean Grill, Sweet Greens, Boloco, Redwood) and we know that through learning from their experience we can help encourage others to do the same.
If you have any questions about the Bethesda Green Restaurant Program, please contact Sharon D'Emidio at Sharon@bethesdagreen.org for more information.
Resources and Info
Green Restaurants 101: Our pamphlet, 10 Easy Ways to Green Your Restaurant, provides a brief introduction to help make your restaurant greener.
Choose a topic area of interest and follow the provided links below to learn more about a particular area of greening your restaurant.
Don't see the info you are looking for? Contact us and we will help steer you in the right direction! Email: Sharon@bethesdagreen.org with your questions or concerns.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The Three Rs are a huge part of pollution prevention, reducing the waste generated, reusing material whenever possible, and recycling goods rather than consigning them to a landfill. The links below contain information on recycling regulations and tools to help you track your restaurant's emissions and waste.
1) Montgomery County's Recycling for Restaurants
- Restaurants are required by law to recycle, but what is and is not recyclable can be confusing. Montgomery County Government has provided a comprehensive list of recyclable materials, specifically geared toward the food industry. The site also includes suggestions for reducing waste and reusing materials, the other two “Big R”s in pollution prevention.
2) North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach
- Grease traps can be the bane of a restaurant's existence, but did you know that they can also pose a major threat to the environment? The website sponsored by the North Carolina government offers information on the environmental problems caused by grease and waste oil, how-to guides on preventing grease from entering drains, best management practices for dealing with grease in a sustainable manner, and outreach materials to educated your employees and customers.
3) Maryland Food Bank
- Interested in donating unused food? The Maryland Food Bank, affiliated with Feeding America, accepts donations from restaurants and uses them to help fight hunger in the state of Maryland. To donate, contact Butch Langenfelder at (410)737-8282 ext 228 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4) Food Carbon Emissions Calculator
- The Green Restaurant pamphlet discussed going green by buying locally. The Food Carbon Emissions Calculator allows you to discover exactly how the source of your food can affect the environment. The website also has FAQ section, with more information on reducing your food carbon emissions.
5) Green Seal Certified Cleaning Services
- Green Seal's list of green certified Commercial & Industrial Cleaning Services, listed alphabetically by state. Four of the Maryland services are local, two of which are located in Bethesda itself.
Green Products and Appliances: From refrigerators to cleaners to paper towels, these companies offer sustainable alternatives for kitchen necessities.
1) Energy Star Products
- Energy Star products use less energy, save you money, and help protect the environment. Their label is likely familiar thanks to their presence on home dishwashers, refrigerators, and microwaves, but they appear on a variety of commercial/industrial appliances as well.
- The Energy Star Commercial Kitchen Package page contains information on all of their commercial kitchen equipment, including ice machines, griddles, ovens, steam cookers, and more. They also provide guidebooks, case studies on energy savings, and links to more resources for energy efficient restaurants.
2) FSTC Pre-Rinse Spray Valves
- Pre-rinse spray valves are proven to minimize water consumption and reduce your energy and sewage costs. The Food Service Technology Center has provided a list of FSTC-verified equipment, as well as data on water and energy savings per hour of usage.
3) FTSC Appliance Performance Reports
- The Food Service Technology Center provides a page full of performance reports for a variety of commercial kitchen appliances. Each category has reports on several brands, allowing you to make a well informed decision when it comes time to replace old appliances.
4) Green Seal Certified Products
- Green Seal's website contains information for green cleaning products, packaging, paper goods, hand soaps, and more.
5) Green Restaurant Association's (GRA) Endorsed Products Database
- GRA presents a small portion of their database in their free Online Guide of GRA-Endorsed Products. All endorsed products meet the highest level of environmental responsibility mandated by the GRA-Endorsement Standards.
Green Building & Construction: Be green from the ground up; the following links have resources for green building certification, construction materials, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and everything else you need to make your restaurant green from the foundations to the roof.
1) LEED Building Standards by Region
- The U.S. Green Building Council provides a comprehensive database of LEED Certification requirements by region. The site allows you to choose your certification level and then displays all applicable regulations for your region. A great resource for those just getting into “green” building.
2) Energy Star Building Shell Opportunities
- It is often not possible to start from scratch and create a fully green building to house your restaurant. But improvements made to the building's shell, such as insulated walls and weather-proof windows, can serve to reduce your energy usage and improve your building's efficiency. Energy Star provides a series of guidebooks on various aspects of building shell improvement.
3) Energy Star HVAC Guide
- Proper heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are crucial to maintain a comfortable and healthy environment in your restaurant. The more efficient your HVAC system, the lower your energy bills and impact on the environment. Check out Energy Star's page for Small Business HVAC systems, full of information on improving and upgrading your system.
4) Energy Star Lighting Guide
- Lighting is crucial to the success of your business, but can use a huge chunk of energy- it can account for 20%-50% of the energy costs of your business! You can save significant money on electric bills by ensuring that your lighting is energy efficient; the Energy Star Lighting Guide states that major lighting upgrades usually provide the highest return-on-investment.
5) Energy Star Office Equipment & Appliances
- Inefficient POS modules and older office computers not only use more energy than newer models, but also tend to run hotter, increasing your cooling costs as well! Energy Star's guide is full of certified equipment, along with simple suggestions to reduce everyday energy usage.
Tax Breaks, Incentives, and Rebates: Save money by going green! Federal, state, and local governments often offer incentives for businesses and individuals to move toward sustainability. Take full advantage of your decision to go green, and get all the rebates you're eligible for.
1) Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
- This comprehensive database includes information on a variety of rebates and tax cuts available in the state of Maryland, including the Montgomery County High Performance Building Property Tax Credit and the Be SMART Business Efficiency Loan Program.
2) Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
- The DSIRE database also contains information on all the relevant federal loans, rebates, and initiatives designed to encourage businesses to go green, along with rules and regulations on appliance and energy standards.
3) Energy.gov Savings for Maryland
- This government-sponsored website provides information on rebates available in Maryland, and has a quick-view format that allows to check the county, who is eligible, what green improvements you can save money on, and which county department to apply to.
4) Energy Star Tax Reductions for Commercial Buildings
- Energy Star provides specific information on federal tax rebates for commercial buildings. The site also includes links to IRS notices and energy savings calculators.
Smart Purchasing – Food: Make your restaurant menu sustainable by focusing on local, seasonal products. The guides below have information on local produce, foods with high pesticide levels, and avoiding genetically engineered food.
1) NOAA FishWatch
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides the FishWatch guide so restauranteurs can make sustainable choices in their seafood offerings. You can search for fish by name, or simply scroll through their list to learn more information about each species of fish. The entries include information on population status and seasonality, along with recipe suggestions for each fish!
2) GRACE Presents Sustainable Table
- Sustainable Table is a comprehensive source for all information regarding sustainable foods. They offer health and nutritional information, in depth articles on sustainability and the growing sustainable food movement, and an Eat Well Guide that allows you to find farms, stores, and other sustainable food sources close by.
3) True Food Network
- The Center for Food Safety presents this pocket guide to genetically engineered (GE) food. The guide contains lists of the Big Four crops that are most often genetically modified, as well as information on avoiding GE foods while purchasing meat, produce, and canned goods.
4) Local Harvest
- Local Harvest is a search engine that allows you to locate wholesale farms in your area. Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve in upper Montgomery County is full of farms, and many are committed to sustainability. Enter in your zip code, and check out the local farms!
5) Eat Wild
- Unless your menu is vegetarian or vegan, you probably need meat for at least some of your recipes. Eat Wild allows you to search for local farms that provide grass-fed and free-range food, including chicken, eggs, pork, and beef. Looking for something beside the basics? Some of the farms in the area also provide turkey, duck, rabbit, and goat.
6) Smarter Living, Eat Local
- The National Resources Defense Council has provided a comprehensive list of Maryland foods available by season. Whether you want your menu to change as the seasons do, or simply offer seasonally appropriate menu specials, this website has something for you.
Smart Purchasing – Containers: Get rid of the Styrofoam clam shell, and turn your take-out sustainable! The sites below offer containers that are biodegradable, compostable, made from recycled materials- anything but that old clam shell! Make sure that your containers don't end up living in a landfill, and check out the links below.
1) BPI Certified Compostable Food Items
- All the companies featured on BPI's website sell foodservice products that have been certified compostable. BPI's standards specify foodservice products to be plates, cups, bowls, utensils, and other items used to serve food. The products on the site were all designed to disintegrate and biodegrade quickly and safely in a professional composting facility.
2) Green Seal Certified Food Packaging
- Green Seal certifies more than just cleaning services and appliances- their site also contains certified food packaging products. You can narrow your search and filter by category, manufacturer, and standard.
3) EcoLogo Certified Food & Beverage Containers
- EcoLogo provides third party certification for environmentally preferable products. The food and beverage containers listed on the site are all certified, and can be displayed by product, by manufacturer, or by brand name.
4) FOLD-PAK Sustainable Packaging
- FOLD-PAK offers a variety of sustainable take-out containers, made from recycled materials or from renewable resources. Links to each type of product are provided, with more information on their features and sustainability.
5) G.E.T.'s Eco-Friendly Products
- G.E.T.'s website offers a variety of eco-friendly foodservice products, including takeout containers, dinnerware, drink containers, and more.
6) Biodegradable Foodservice Items
- Sustainable Foodservice offers a comprehensive list of manufacturers of biodegradable foodservice items with some product information and links to their websites.
Smart Purchasing – General Supplies: Toilet paper, cleaners, composting supplies and more, the sites below offer resources to make every product you use green.
1) BuyGreen Foodservice
- BuyGreen offers a list of products associated with foodservice, including dishware, serveware, and restaurant cleaning supplies.
2) Eco-Flame Non-Toxic Warming Gel
- Perfect for your catering needs, EcoGel is nontoxic and developed by a company devoted to sustainability and environmental health.
Biofuel & Waste Oil: Our pamphlet discussed responsible disposal of waste grease and the resources below provide more information and links to fuel recycling companies.
1) Greenlight Biofuels
- Greenlight Biofuels provides waste oil recycling services to restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, and more. Their services include scheduled pickups, on-call service, and a cleaner process than many other grease collection services. After collection, Greenlight Biofuels works to transform the waste vegetable oil to biofuel, which is then put to use in the community.
2) Fat, Grease, and Oil Fact Sheet
- This Best Management Practices sheet has a variety of information on dry cleanup, spill prevention, maintenance, and more.
3) AG Solutions LLC Waste Oil Heaters
- AG Solutions LLC provides waste oil boilers and used oil heaters for businesses and agriculture. Their website contains information on waste oil sources, converting waste oil to heating fuel, and the costs and benefits of doing so.
Composting: While it might seem intimidating, composting is easier than you think. The links below lead to composting how-tos, regulations for Maryland businesses, and composting services for businesses and restaurants. Start composting, and watch your sustainability go up and trash collection bill go down.
1) Mid-Atlantic States Composting Regulations
- This EPA document details the regulations on composting in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and includes contact info for specific questions on permitting and regulations.
2) For Maryland Composting Regulations and Permitting Information, contact:
Maryland Department of Agriculture
State Chemist Section
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
3) Mid-Atlantic States Composting Facilities
- The EPA has provided a comprehensive list of all composting facilities in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
- Composting is great, as is staying local! Use FindAComposter.com to search for facilities within a 50 mile radius of your zipcode. Search results offer contact information and links to the facility's website.
5) Fat Worm Compost Facilitator
- Fat Worm Compost provides the bin, you provide the material! Simply place your food waste in the provided bin (lined with a compostable bag) and Fat Worm will pick up your waste and transform it into nutrient-rich soil. No need to worry about overflowing the bins before your scheduled pickup – pickups can happen as many times a week as necessary.
6) Growing Soul
- Growing Soul is an organization based out of Suitland, MD whose goal is to fix our broken food cycle by connecting farmers and consumers, reducing waste by composting, and educating the community on sustainable food practices. They have information about composting services, links to current projects, and what you can do to get involved.