Building owners and managers can now gain credit towards a national green building rating by using sustainably cultivated food which is certified by approved organizations such as USDA Certified Organic, Food Alliance Certified, Protected Harvest Certified, Fair Trade, and the Marine Stewardship Council’s Blue Eco Label, and/or by acquiring food from within a 100-mile radius.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a set of standards for environmentally sustainable construction, which was recently updated to include an energy reduction component called Sustainable Food.
To receive this credit, at least 25 percent of all food and beverages used in onsite catering or food service must meet one or more of these sustainability criteria. Double points are awarded if the food is both certified and locally harvested.
The new Sustainable Food strategy is considered complementary to the other strategies that aim to reduce the carbon footprint of a building. A LEED project provides incentives to purchase building materials within a 500-mile radius of the site, enhancing local economies by keeping profits in the community.
The idea is that what goes on in a building after it’s designed and constructed also contributes significantly to a building’s environmental impact. Thus, similar strategies should be applied to building operations, including purchasing food sustainably. No matter the size of a business operation, at one time or another, food will be served at an event or a meeting.