The National Restaurant Association is taking its Conserve Initiative further, challenging its members to reduce energy and water usage.

In mid-May, the Washington, D.C.-based organization launched the Conserve/Energy Star Challenge.

To participate, operators can go to http://conserve.restaurant.org, the NRA’s Conserve Initiative Web site, to sign up. The challenge offers operators a chance to keep track of their energy and water use so they can identify opportunities to save money and set goals for the future.

Participants can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s free Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track their water and energy reduction.

Annika Stensson, the NRA’s director of media relations, said more than 500 restaurants signed up for the challenge by June 1.

The challenge is part of the NRA’s Conserve Initiative, which launched last year. Its Web site offers tips for operators to make their businesses more environmentally sustainable.

“Since the launch, we’ve expanded the site with new topics and will be adding more as we go, and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback about the resources and information we provide,” Stensson said.

Stensson said the NRA focuses on business solutions that conserve both the environment and budgets and include options for restaurants of all sizes.

“Going green is a huge trend right now. Actually, it’s more than a trend. It’s the future way of doing business,” she said.

“As we’re embarking on the journey to realize our organization’s new strategic plan, we’ll be building the initiative further.”

This article was featured in The Packer's annual Foodservice section, published June 29. For more stories about the foodservice sector, visit www.thepacker.com/foodservice.