Sustainability is more than just a corporate initiative for SAVOR…Chicago. It is a passion that touches every aspect of our operations and drives the way we do business. Not only do we practice sustainable operations, we are also committed to sharing our knowledge and experience with others in our industry and locally.
From creating the Midwest’s largest outdoor rooftop garden to sourcing certified sustainable coffee, increasing our recycling diversion rate and reducing waste, here are a few highlights of our commitment:
- The Crown Jewel of SAVOR’s sustainability program is the rooftop garden atop the West Building. We developed our program to serve as a model to promote sustainable local agriculture, serve as a training ground for city residents interested in careers in urban agriculture and to represent on the McCormick Place world stage what can be done with a convention center roof space. No small plot with a few herbs and flowers, our half-acre garden is the Midwest’s largest outdoor rooftop garden and produces seasonal harvest yields of up to 8,000 lbs. of farm-fresh plenty including tomatoes, kale, carrots, lettuce, hot and sweet peppers, beans and herbs. This hyper-local produce is prepared in SAVOR…Chicago kitchens and served in McCormick Place catering and restaurant operations, including “Windy City Harvest” menu items served in the 23rd Street Cafe & Market.
- Additionally, of the various plants we grow on the rooftop, 16 different varieties have been selected from the Slow Foods Arc of Taste to help drive awareness of the importance of bio-diversity, as well as to take advantage of the great flavor available from these currently neglected, but historically important, vegetables.
- Working with BrickStone Brewery, a local brewer based in Bourbonnais, Illinois, we partnered in the creation of McCormick Place Everyday Ale, a session ale that is brewed in part with Cascade Hops grown on the rooftop. Launched at the prestigious Chicago Auto Show, this popular craft beer is now widely available in the greater Chicago area as well as northern Illinois.
- 33% of all food purchased at McCormick Place is local, organic or environmentally preferred. This includes 80% of all seafood purchased being sustainable, all coffee served on McCormick Place campus is certified and we are the largest purchaser of Windy City Harvests Urban Farm vegetables and herbs.
- We managed the waste diversion program from 0% before SAVOR… Chicago was awarded the McCormick Place contract to 63% last year. This significant
improvement is thanks to many different waste reduction initiatives including creation of the proprietary Green Angels℠ post-consumer recycling and composting program, implementation of a rigorous back of the house waste segregation program, changes in packaging and bulk condiments, recycling all food grease to bio-diesel, adopting a cork re-harvesting program as well as other efforts.
- SAVOR… makes the most of food that is still good to eat but that may have resulted from show attendance number fluctuations. In 2017, we donated over 1,000 pounds of food to neighborhood charities including the Pacific Garden Mission. In total, more than three tons of food has been repurposed to folks that needed it the most since SAVOR… began its work at McCormick Place at the end of 2011.
- Finally, as a company that is truly integrated into our McCormick Square community, the SAVOR…Chicago team spends hundreds of hours of their own time working with local organizations including the Illinois Restaurant Associations ProStart culinary education program for high school students, Ronald McDonald House, Eco Educators and others.
Our commitment to being the Sustainable Local Company is constant and ongoing. Some of the awards recognizing our efforts and accomplishments include:
- Green Seal™ Standard GS-55 Certification based on purchase of sustainably-sourced food, waste minimization, use of verified environmentally-preferable products and conservation of energy and water
- International APEX certification
- Green Meetings Industry Council certification
- Recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency most recently in 2018 as a Food Recovery Challenge Award winner. SAVOR…Chicago has been recognized by the EPA five times in the National ‘Sustainable Materials Management Food Recovery Challenge’
- Received the Illinois Governor’s Award for Sustainability
- Awarded the Sara Rowe ProStart Company of the Year