The Akron Zoo’s Komodo Kingdom Café has been awarded four-stars by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), making it one of the greenest restaurants in the U.S. The zoo’s café is the first four-star green restaurant in the state of Ohio and only the 7th in the United States. The Akron Zoo is the first zoo in the country to receive such honor. It is currently ranked as the fifth greenest restaurant in the U.S. according to the GRA.
The GRA is a national non-profit organization that has been working to improve restaurant sustainability since 1990. The GRA’s Green Restaurant Certification Standards provide a clearly defined and cost-effective way for restaurants, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers to become more environmentally responsible.
The certification process is based on a point system. Each aspect of the building and every process within the foodservice operation is scored based on the level of energy efficiency or level of sustainable practice achieved. To achieve full certification you must accumulate a total of 100 points, meet minimum points in each category, have a full-scale recycling program, be free of polystyrene foam (aka styrofoam) and provide yearly guest education. Komodo Kingdom Café received a total of 349.01 points.
Points are awarded in the following areas: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable food, energy, use of disposable products and chemical/pollution reduction.
Because the café is inside Komodo Kingdom, which is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building, it helped the café achieve some of the most difficult sustainability points. For example, the café received credits due to the building’s geothermal heating and cooling system. Komodo Kingdom was the first LEED certified building in Summit County. The zoo also received points because it increased its usage of vegan and vegetarian foods. Other categories receiving high marks include the zoo’s food waste composting program and the introduction of Green Seal certified cleaning products.