A Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant commits to performing selected actions from a series of categories directed to making improvements in the areas of energy, water, waste, food sourcing, people, and nutrition. By fulfilling these actions, a restaurant stands out as a leader within its community.

Waste Reduction

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants take measures to reduce wasted food, maximize recycling, and limit the amount of garbage going to landfills.

Half of the overall waste a restaurant produces comes from wasted food. This can come from food waste created during kitchen prep, overproduction, spoilage, and plate waste by consumers. Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants take measures to reduce food waste.

According to the Green Restaurant Association, on average a restaurant generates an astonishing  75 tons of garbage each year. In other words, Pittsburgh’s restaurants alone generate enough waste to cover the surface of Heinz Field with a mountain of garbage 90 feet deep every year.  Much of this waste can be eliminated through recycling. Packaging, shipping boxes, bottles, cans, jars, some take-out containers and cups, and paper can (and should) be composted and/or recycled. By participating in recycling and purchasing recyclable products or those made from recycled materials, a Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants drastically cut down the amount of garbage going to landfills. Aside from fact that garbage in landfills produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and pollute the water and soil, restaurants who take the step to divert their waste are effectively keeping the prices of disposal down. Landfill space is limited and the more waste that travels there to be dumped, the greater the cost will grow over time.

Water Conservation

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants implement methods to conserve water usage.

Water is a vital resource that is mission-critical for the future of the world’s food supply. On average, a restaurant uses 5,800 gallons of water per day with almost half of that coming from kitchen use; restrooms come in second. Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants make use of various methods that reduce consumption. Some of the best ways to reduce water waste come by improving dishwashing stations, upgrading to low-flow toilets and urinals, and fixing leaky faucets, which can save thousands of gallons of water every year. Some restaurants have even installed rain barrels, green roofs, or water catchment systems to irrigate the food they grow and help with stormwater management in their community.

Energy Efficiency

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants make efforts to reduce energy usage through installing energy efficient appliances, using efficient lighting, and implementing other “green” measures aimed at energy conservation.

Restaurants are the largest consumers of energy in the commercial sector. Reducing energy consumption in restaurants starts with the kitchen, where energy consumed per square foot is five times higher than the rest of the space. There are all sorts of things that restaurants can do to reduce energy consumption. The most impactful change is equipping the kitchen with ENERGY STAR appliances. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, commercial buildings equipped with ENERGY STAR appliances consume 40% less energy than those without. Minor behavioral changes, like turning off lights, hoods, ranges, signs and fans when not in use, can make a major difference.

Beyond the kitchen, major steps toward energy efficiency can be taken by replacing conventional lighting with LED lighting. Lights account for 13% of a restaurant’s energy usage, and LED lights use 75% less energy, last between 10 and 50 times longer than conventional lighting options, and are friendlier for the planet.

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants demonstrate their commitment to the environment by taking steps toward energy efficiency. These efforts are doubly beneficial because they also help these businesses save money. Energy cost accounts for 30% of a typical restaurant’s annual budget, so major steps to save energy also impacts the bottom line of the restaurant—saving 20% on energy can increase a restaurant’s profit margins by as much as one third.


Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants are committed to improving the treatment and care for employees as well as being active with and contributing to their local communities.

People are an important component of sustainability, whether we’re talking about employees, consumers, or the residents of the community. Restaurants have the ability to make a big difference within their communities through the way they educate people about food, whether through preparation, nutrition, or buying local and seasonal products, provide access to food for those in need, and uplift worker standards. Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants have made a commitment to the people who live and work in our region.

Responsible Sourcing

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants work to source their food responsible, showing a commitment to high quality, fresh and local products, and focus on reducing environmental impacts.

One of the best ways a restaurant can connect the social and environmental aspects of its operations is through how it sources its food. Responsible sourcing means that a restaurant understands the value in supporting local farmers and businesses, providing guests with fresh, quality products, reducing environmental impacts by streamlining its supply chain, and contributing to a stronger local economy.


Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants contribute to our region’s wellness by actions like offering healthier meal options, more fruits and vegetables, smaller portion sizes, nutritious children’s meals, and through setting an example for restaurant goers.

Obesity is the number one cause of death in America. Obesity rates have doubled in adults and children since the 1970s. Levels of sugar and calorie intake, as well as food choices and portion sizes, are all contributing factors to this issue. In recent years, Pittsburgh’s obesity rate was reaching nearly 30% according to CDC estimates, and nationally more than one third of children and adolescents were obese or overweight.

Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants make a difference by including more healthy and nutritious options on their menus,  right-sizing portions, and offering wholesome meals for children. People look to restaurants as role models for food options, so the impact of these efforts goes far beyond just what people eat when they’re in the restaurants. Guests of these restaurants can learn about appropriate portion size and different nutritious options that also taste great.