Eco-Friendly Hotels and Restaurants in the Midwest

Trying to be a green consumer comes with the task of researching where you choose to dine and/or book. Listed below are both restaurants with eco-friendly practices as well as hotels that have made the effort to become more sustainable. Many businesses are also dipping their toes in trying to help the planet rather than harm it. 

Best Practices for Eco-Friendly Hotels in Chicago: 

Hotel Felix is a hotel in Chicago’s River North area. It is the first green eco-friendly hotel in Chicago with Silver LEED Certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To rank, a Silver within the LEED requirements means to score between 50 to 59 points out of 79 points in total. Points can be earned in landscaping, lighting choices, recycled products, etc. Hotel Felix earned these points by employing natural heating sources and energy-efficient lighting. This building is made from reclaimed materials, which include concrete, rubble, asphalt, and copper. The building is covered in artwork that is made from recycled materials. The hotel incorporates sustainability into its cleaning approach as well. It uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies and reusable towels and sweepers. In all, Hotel Felix has LEED Silver Certification, energy-efficient lighting, and heat, as well as sustainable art.

Hotel Waldorf Astoria, located in Chicago’s Goal Coast neighborhood, is also regarded as a hotel that values sustainability. They claim to embrace the concept of environmental stewardship. The key to good sustainability in the hospitality industry means helping the planet while not sacrificing a guest’s experience. Using the LightStay system of measurement, the brands associated with the construction and maintenance of the hotel have reached high standards in environmental sustainability policy. This is a policy that reduces all kinds of waste (electrical and physical) as well as limiting the amount of CO2 output. When conducting business, they encourage energy and water efficiency. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel has trained its staff in energy efficiency, air quality, water conservation, and additional environmental protections. They have created a business that preserves, rather than harms, our natural environment. 

The Virgin Hotel in Chicago, in comparison, has gone as far as implementing targeted sustainability initiatives. These initiatives include green housekeeping, hotel-wide recycling, soap donation to ‘Clean the World’, promoting walking tourism, green roofs for better water management, and empowering guests with a powered carbon offset program/renewable energy projects. ‘Clean the World’ is an organization that recycles hotel soap and other amenities. This chain of hotels has over 70% of all lighting powered by LED lights. This means that their bulbs have a longer shelf life, higher energy efficiency, and produce less waste. They practice water conservation by implementing fixtures that reduce consumption by over 20% when compared to current baselines and standards. They also use locally sourced materials and recycled materials. 20% of the materials were sourced locally for the construction of the hotel. This means that they reduced transportation emissions while stimulating the local region, and repurposed many materials without the need for new manufacturing or additional emissions. The hotel uses low to zero-emission materials for all paint, caulk sealants, flooring materials, and composite wood products during construction. This leads to better air quality in the hotel and around it. Hotel maintenance is performed with only green seal-approved cleaning materials that are non-toxic and safe for guests. 


Eco-Friendly, Farm to Table, Restaurants and What They Practice: 


Uncommon Ground is a restaurant and bar in Chicago. They have made it a mission to become a more environmentally conscious business that takes into account all the waste that circulates through the food industry. This restaurant has two locations in downtown Chicago, both with four-star certifications from the Green Restaurant Association. Its location on Devon St. has the first certified organic rooftop farm in the country. Their rooftop farm has a portable, sun-irrigated growing system with a plethora of seasonal plants living in 12 inches of soil. The original location on Clark St. is the home to Greenstar Brewing which is an organic Brewery. Both locations hold to their eco-friendly rating by having everything produced being used in the restaurants and serving customers, making it a true form of a farm-to-table-dining experience. They constantly harvest their crops and serve them on their dining tables. They even support the restaurant with money from their very own beehive! 

Black Cat Bistro also tackles the ambitious task of being a farm-to-table restaurant. Their head chef, Eric Skokan, farms and ranches more than 130 acres in Boulder County, Colorado. He also has a farm-stand at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market and is a part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. This program intends to help people get personal with their food choices and learn where their food is grown, raised, and ultimately prepared. The goal is to stop big corporations from polluting the earth and mass-producing meat in unethical ways, instead of pulling back the curtain and getting individually involved. Most of the food from Skokan’s restaurants is sourced from his homegrown fields. These food items include carrots, lentils, corn for polenta, lovage, lamb, eggs, heritage pigs, beef, goose, etc. 

Grange Kitchen and Bar is an upscale farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. It sources its goods locally with what they call a ‘nose-to-tail’ philosophy. Meaning that they like to use everything from their animals from the nose of the animal to the tail. Their menu is full of locally sourced, seasonal options. 


These are just a few options for sustainable dining and tourism in the Midwest. These practices are becoming more common as sustainability through the industry. It is difficult to live sustainably and take care of our planet. But with this list, it is clear that you don’t have to sacrifice luxury to think eco-consciously.

Hotel Feliz, 111 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 447-3440

Hotel Waldorf Astoria Chicago, 11 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 646-1300

Virgin Hotels Chicago, 203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 940-4400

Uncommon Ground, 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 465-9801

Black Cat, 1964 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 44-5500

Grange Kitchen & Bar, 118 W Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 995-2107

—-Daniella Orellana