Among other firsts New York can now claim is the country’s first 3-Star Green Certified museum food court: the American Museum of Natural History has just earned its certification from the Green Restaurant Association, a non-profit organization that promotes environmentally conscious practices in the restaurant industry.
To attain certification, the museum had to earn points in such GRA environmental categories as waste reduction and recycling, chemical and pollution reduction, and water efficiency. To do this, the food court took measures that included installing compact fluorescent lighting, using non-toxic cleaning products, and sourcing local and organic food.
According to Youn-Jung Lee, AMNH’s Senior Director of Event and Conference Services, the museum began working towards its certification in August. “Though in a way, we started long ago because of the museum’s sustainability policy,” she says. “Getting the number of points required was not a huge endeavor in that sense. We couldn’t use bottled water, so we used tap with a filter, and our containers for anything prepackaged were made out of cornstarch plastic or sugar cane. We had ketchup and mustard pumps instead of packets, and already used local produce. And we already had water-saving features in our faucets.”
The changes to the food court, which include incorporating wind energy into its daily operations, largely affect the museum’s central kitchen, which services the food court and the museum’s four other eateries. When possible, Lee says, the museum uses local produce distributed by Baldour, Riviera, and Sid Wainer, and changes its menus every two months to incorporate what’s seasonal whenever possible.
Although Lee has heard that Lincoln Center is accumulating green points for its new restaurant, “right now, we’re only non-commercial restaurant with three stars in the whole country. There’s only a dozen [commercial restaurants] in the country. So we’re very proud of it.”