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Green Seal Standard for Restaurants Unveiled

Green lodging certifier Green Seal has extended its ecolabeling program to restaurants and foodservice establishments that reduce their environmental impacts, the nonprofit said Thursday.

The GS-46 Environmental Standard for Restaurants and Foodservices identified responsible food purchasing and waste reduction as the biggest opportunities for operators to reduce their toll on the environment. That’s because food represents the largest source of a restaurant’s impacts due to its production, which generates between 17 percent and 32 percent of human-based greenhouse gas emissions, according to the organization’s research, which included lifecycle analyses.

The GS-46 also focuses on responsible water and energy management. Coincidentally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced new Energy Star requirements for commercial griddles and ovens that are as much as 20 percent more efficient that standard models.

The GS-46 has three levels -- bronze, silver and gold -- and applies to all types of operations, such as full-service, limited-service, non-commercial and catering. The National Restaurant Association estimates there are 945,000 locations in the U.S., with expected sales this year of $566 billion and 13 million employees.

Green Seal charges operators fees for the on-site verification and continual monitoring, not including other expenses, such as for travel. The fees are based on revenue, and range from $2,380 in combined audit and monitoring fees for a small operator seeking bronze certification with annual sales of less than $500,000, to $7,650 in combined fees for a large establishment seeking gold certification with sales of more than $10 million.

Green Seal designed the standard with the input from more than 100 environmental and health organizations, trade groups, academia, suppliers and operators. The nonprofit also assigns its seal to hotels, retail stores and products used in airports, government facilities, schools, hospitals and offices buildings. Another recent standard released focuses on soaps, cleaners and shower products.

The restaurant certification standard, fee schedules and all other related materials can be found at

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