Zero Waste Bistro

When creating the space-within-a-space Zero Waste Bistro, Designer Linda Bergroth relied completely on eco-friendly materials. This pop-up installation was presented by the Finish Cultural Institute at this spring's NYCxDesign event.

She did have a moment where she realized how different this café would be from the average restaurant. "It was interesting, when I was drawing the kitchen, I said, 'You probably need some trash cans,'" describes Bergroth. "And they were like, 'No, we don't have any trash.' And now it really feels real to me, that there's no trash."

Zero Waste Bistro only existed in New York City for four days and was inspired by the Helsinki's Restaurant Nolla, the Nordic region's first zero-waste restaurant. Although this space may sound extreme, the atmosphere might be a clue in the direction restaurant and venue design is headed.

With no garbage bins available, chefs at Zero Waste Bistro relied on Oklin brand composting technology. "The peelings, the chopping, the leftovers, everything was composted, and it's a very fast process. It turns to soil overnight," Bergroth explains.

The pop-up's blue walls may have looked like wallpaper, but they were actually upcycled Just Water containers. Breakfast, lunch, and dinners were all eaten at communal tables made from 100 percent recyclable Durat. Durat is made from recycled plastics. Diners left with pulpable carton board takeout coffee cups from Kotkamills. The idea was to get diners to rethink eating out.

Hopefully the experience would chance some facts. The Finish Cultural Institute reports that in the U.S. alone, more than 58 billion disposable cups make it to landfills every year! Even though this is a serious message, Bergroth wanted to fight stereotypes diners may have about recycled materials. "I wanted to make it fun and draw attention for a good cause; it doesn't mean if it's for a good cause it needs to be deadly serious," she shared of the social-media friendly space.

1 Hotels

While this eatery transported diners to an all-blue room to rethink about how the Earth is affected by their meal, there are other eco-friendly venues trying to literally bring the outside in. This is the concept behind biophilic design, a concept 1 Hotels believes is on the rise.

"We recognize people have an inherent love and affiliation for nature, and incorporate natural materials, natural light, vegetation, views, and other experiences of the natural world into our hotels. This results in each 1 Hotel being a place of refuge for our guests," explain Christopher Kochuba, vice president of design, and Hannah Bronfman, director of sustainability and impact.

Each location is unique to it's locality. This includes the materials selected, the plants used, and even the integration of the hotel into its local economy.

At 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the building is an extension of the waterfront pier. Salt marsh grasses and refuse shipping materials are integrated into the design. The upcoming 1 Hotel in China will include an on-site farm to be both run and managed by the property. This will provide food for the hotel's restaurant and catering programs.

Jacks Monterey

An on-site garden and green wall is part of California's LEED-certified Portola Hotel & Spa's newest restaurant: Jacks Monterey. Opened in 2017, not only does this allow bartenders to pick fresh mint, the garden "helps us give a sense of place if a guest is traveling to Monterey for the first time," says Robert Polacek of Puccini Group. He is one of the project designers.

Also featured are indoor trees retained from when Portola was DoubleTree, and works from local artists. This includes driftwood sculptures.


Also located in California, San Fransisco's Perennial is looking to use the menu to combat climate change.

They operate an aquaponic greenhouse where even the menus are eventually fed to the greenhouse's worms and the dining room was designed by Paul Discoe, a woodworker who exclusively uses reclaimed wood. "One thing that I think is not as common these days is building out of wood," says Anthony Myint, executive chef. "It's kind of a shame, because I think that is the most eco-friendly building material out there."

GrizForm Design

Diners might not notice one other aspect of green hospitality design.

"We're finding that everything we're using is being manufactured in a somewhat sustainable way," Griz Dwight points out. Griz Dwight is the principal and owner of GrizForm Design in Washington, D.C. "I don't think that's a key piece right now. I think really right now it's a lot of the energy systems that the hotels and restaurants are using."

Dwight calls out innovations in HVAC, LED lighting, and insulation as the most exciting sustainable features he has recently found.

At the LEED-certified Farmer's Restaurant Group restaurants, designed by GrizForm, in the Washington area, sustainability is a major player. This goes from heat recovery units, all the way to daylight sensors that adjust the indoor lights accordingly.

The good news may just be how accepted these things are in 2018.

"Sustainability isn't one of those things that you have to push--I think it's minstream," says Dwight. "Most of our clients are really concerned about it these days. Everybody is looking at how things can be better."


You can continue to be eco-friendly by traveling with reusable totes, and packing leftovers in a reusable snack or lunch bag.