12/29/2011 - Asheville restaurants going green in New Year
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times
ASHEVILLE -- More area restaurants that have made a reputation serving the best local foods on their menus are adding local energy going into the New Year.
The city already boasts half of North Carolina's existing certified green restaurants in a bid to turn the city into a center for environmentally sustainable dining. With a $258,000 state grant, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is working to help 18 members achieve the coveted "green" status from the Green Restaurants Association.
Posana Cafe on Pack Square was the first to be certified by the national Green Restaurant Association. Tupelo Honey's downtown and South Asheville locations, as well as Green Sage downtown, have also achieved certification.
"It's going to be a great selling point for all our restaurants," said Peter Pollay, owner of Posana and a member of the AIR association's Green Team.
All the restaurants aim to achieve the green certification by Earth Day, April 22, according to Katie Cavert, a spokeswoman for Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute. BRSI partnered with the restaurant association to win the grant from the N.C. Green Business Fund.
Area restaurants invested an additional $100,000 in the project, adding energy-efficient lighting, programmable thermostats and recycling and composting in the kitchens.
Sundance Power Systems workers are scheduled to install final arrays of solar panels today to heat water for Posana and the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.
Solar hot water systems have also gone up at Luella's BBQ, Homegrown, Green Sage South, Rosetta's Kitchen and Neo Cantina.
"Going green really sets these business apart as being committed to their local community," said Erika Schneider, outreach coordinator for Sundance. "These are local restaurants that have become firmly established using our local food. Now they're bringing in local energy in another step toward sustainability."
Other restaurants participating in the green certification process are Bouchon, Burgermeister's, The Corner Kitchen, Frankie Bones, Laughing Seed Cafe, Jack of the Wood and the downtown and south locations of Fiore's.