Restaurants. Beyond the experience of a good meal, many of us don’t think about everything behind the scenes that goes into the meal, even when we have a practice of gratitude and/or prayer that causes us to pause before diving in.
Envision in your mind the whole sequence of events behind your meal. There are all the supplies and materials used at the farm and/or fishery level ("where did your food come from?"), there’s the energy for processing and packaging, there’s the transportation to get from processing to restaurant, there’s the energy used at the restaurant itself, and then there are outputs: fed people, paid restaurant workers and food waste.
Sustainable Restaurant Group came together out of a shared goal of maximizing the benefits all these events, supply-chain relationships and resource uses. When they came to us to help them figure out their impacts, we were only too happy to assist, because we could see they had real integrity around what they were trying to do. One big concern of theirs is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their related climate effects. As it turns out, there is a well-established process for what is referred to as “greenhouse gas accounting” to collect the gallons of fuel, the kWh of electricity, the miles traveled by truck or boat, and other relevant numbers, and convert that into climate impact. What we looked at: farm-level and fishing fleet GHG, transportation from fishery and farm to port, transport from port to Portland, refrigeration energy in transport, fugitive refrigerant emissions during transport, transport of other supplies (like wine and rice and vinegar), and energy use at the restaurant.
Here are the results. (And watch the comments below for the forthcoming Fast Company article about them and our work!)
Our staff have been conducting greenhouse gas inventories for over 10 years. It’s a key part of our Pacific Coast practice in green business and green building evaluation.
Ultimately, the goal is to inform smart business strategy around what we see as climate risks and responsibilities. If you look, the vast bulk of companies understand that climate change is something to which they need to pay attention, like any other business risk. It’s a clear risk whether they care about what customers think and want, what they expect regulators to do in any area of the world in which they do business, or whether they’re worried about upsets in their supply chain. The responsibility, then, is not only to communities and the world at large, but also shareholders in responsibly running the business.
This is exactly why our tag line says "environmental excellence" as well as "quality design” and "smart community building”. We see all this work as connected, focusing on building healthy communities in right relationship to the land, whether we’re master planning with rural and tribal communities or helping urban businesses improve their relationship with the surrounding living systems. A challenge in that, quite honestly, is being able to do different types of work very well . . . and we strive to bring together diverse teams to accomplish just that.
In any event, next time you’re in Portland, check out the sushi! And know the people behind it are being very intentional about how your meal gets to you in the best possible way.