Heirloom Restaurant in northwest Charlotte has beehives on the roof, grows its own herbs and uses energy-efficient lighting. Chef Clark Barlowe, who grew up on a North Carolina farm, buys meat and produce from local farms and composts all of his food waste.
"There's just no reason that we shouldn't be doing that," he said. "And so you ask why do I do it? I think the more important question is, why isn't everybody doing it?"
For practices like these, Heirloom has earned the top rating of "three crowns" in the city's new Green Seal program.
City officials formally launched the program Wednesday at Heirloom on Bellhaven Boulevard. The program recognizes restaurants, bars, food trucks and markets for environmentally friendly practices. Officials say it's a voluntary alternative to new regulations.
Green Seal is one of several environmental initiatives the city has rolled out recently, in part to help fight climate change. They include goals to eliminate the city's use of fossil fuels by 2030, and to create jobs by reducing waste and recycling more.
City officials hope the program's one, two or three-crown ratings will encourage other businesses to join in.
The idea came from city council member Larken Egleston, who said he wanted "something that incentivized people to do the right things in their businesses as it relates to sustainability and green initiatives, rather than us trying to mandate something."
Other businesses certified so far include Free Range Brewing on North Davidson Street and Viva Chicken's four city stores.
The program is run through the city's Office of Sustainability. Plans are to approve Green Seal applications every three months. They're good for a year, then businesses have to reapply.
More information is at charlottenc.gov/greenseal