Peter Pollay and I squeezed into a narrow ladder well which leads to the roof. “Watch out when you stick your head out; the wind is cold,” he tells me. “Thanks,” I say, zipping up my fourth layer over my head and slinging my 40-pound camera bag over my neck. “Up we go,” Pollay continued. “Oh, and there is some ice up here too,” he cautioned as we climbed.
Pollay owns Posana Cafe in downtown Asheville, and he serves on the Asheville Independent Restaurants’ “Green Team.” Ice or not, the Green Team’s mission is to make AIR’s 78-member restaurants as environmentally friendly, sustainable and energy efficient as possible. A $258,000 grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund is helping, and on a brisk December day, a solar system was being installed on Posana’s roof — ice or not.
Although not as high as the BB&T building next door, the angled roof catches all the wind coming down the French Broad River valley from the north. So, sure enough, there was ice on the inclined roof.
And there were new solar hot-water panels. Installed with help from a crane, the panels number 11, and they’re made in North Carolina and installed by an Asheville-area company, Sundance. The install crew had to fashion a steel frame to support the weight, and were preparing to lift and man-handle them into place, solder them together and connect it all to the water system.
Pollay explains that the installation is part of the cafe’s an ongoing: AIR’s Green Team is dedicated to making the city the “green restaurant capital” of the United States. Pollay and the Green Team secured a $258,000 grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund. The monies are earmarked for green renovations and updates to AIR’s 18 member restaurants (see below).
Posana Cafe has received national recognition for its environmental efforts, such as becoming the first North Carolina restaurant to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association of America.
Here’s the full, related press release from AIR:
As the year draws to a close, Asheville Independent Restaurants are reaching a milestone in completing an important stage in the green restaurant initiative. A significant number of AIR restaurants participating in the green restaurant certification, have either completed or are in midst of installations of solar panels for hot water usage. The installation is the latest step toward a grant project in the works since mid-2011 in conjunction with Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI).
Awarded from the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology’s Green Business Fund through a unique partnership with the Asheville Independent Restaurant (AIR) Association, the $258,000 grant will improve the environmental sustainability and economic success of 17 AIR member restaurants. In addition, the BRSI/AIR partnership, a major component of BRSI’s Regional Energy Upfit Campaign, will provide the foundation for Asheville as a Green Dining Destination™ city, attracting tourism and promoting job creation and economic development in the region. The funding will enhance the restaurants’ efforts to increase use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and promote energy conservation in support of achieving Green Certified Restaurant® status through the national Green Restaurant Association.
“It is very exciting to be part of this grant and the movement of AIR restaurants to become greener and have less of an impact on our environment,” said Peter Pollay, owner of Posana Café /AIR Board Treasurer and Green Team member.“Asheville has had a long standing outlook on pro-sustainability and AIR restaurants want to do our part to support that effort.”
AIR members included in the grant and working toward or have completed GRA certification are Bouchon, Burgermeister’s, The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, The Corner Kitchen, The Green Sage downtown (Completed), Green Sage south, Fiores downtown, Fiores south location, Frankie Bones, Homegrown, Laughing Seed Café, Jack of the Wood, Luella’s BBQ, Tupelo Honey Café downtown (Completed), Tupelo Honey Café south location (Completed), Neo Cantina, and Rosetta’s Kitchen. AIR member Posana Café in downtown Asheville, the first certified restaurant in NC, also participated in the grant and is one of only eight existing GRA certified restaurants in North Carolina. Four of the eight restaurants are in Asheville, Posana Café, Tupelo Honey Café (both downtown and south locations) and The Green Sage, downtown.
The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is committed to the local economy, local businesses, and local philanthropies. For more information about becoming a member, associate member or sponsor of the Asheville Independent Restaurants, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.airasheville.org.