Featured BRSI Sponsor

BRSI is fortunate to have received financial support and sponsorship from local, regional and national organizations, government entities, foundations, corporations, higher educational institutions, and individuals. We feature our dedicated sponsors here.


The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Café

the-green-sage-asheville-ncOn March 1, 2008, The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Café opened in downtown Asheville, in the old Bean Street location. The mission of the business was to serve healthy food in a restaurant committed to sustainability values. The founders, Randy Talley and Al Kirchner, made the decision to be the first restaurant in downtown Asheville to install a thermal hot water solar panel system on the roof—a risky investment for a start-up business. The Green Sage was also one of the first restaurants to incorporate composting into all facets of its operations, including a composting station on the sales floor.

The Green Sage believed that its commitment to the environment, along with offering organic coffee and all natural foods, would attract healthy, green-conscious customers and serve to inspire the greater business and residential community to embrace energy efficiency, renewable energy systems, water efficiency, and composting. Perhaps the most notable aspect of The Green Sage is the food itself, which accounts for about 65% of the business’s sales. The menu includes local meats, eggs, tempeh, and milk; 25% of the ingredients are organic. Most everything is made from scratch, including over 25 baked goods. Scores of options exist for vegan and gluten-intolerant customers.

In 2010, Randy Talley joined the Asheville Independent Restaurants (AIR) Board and was a founding member of AIR’s Green Team, along with Rosetta Starshine from Rosetta’s Kitchen and Kevin Westmoreland from the Corner Kitchen. The Green Team started off with modest goals of sharing green business tips with other AIR members. However, the modest beginnings led to a grander vision to enroll 18 restaurants in a process of achieving green restaurant certification from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). The AIR Green Restaurants partnered with the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI)–and was awarded a grant from the NC Green Business fund for $258,000 to help achieve a combined energy savings of 3.4 Billion BTU’s (amount of energy required to boil approximately 2.5 million gallons of water). Restaurants received financial assistance to purchase solar thermal hot water systems, energy efficient lighting, insulation, and weatherization kits.

On November 10, 2011, The Green Sage partners, joined by Roger Derrough (founder of Earth Fare), opened its second location in the old Southside Café location in South Asheville. Soon after, the original downtown Green Sage received 3 Star Green Certification from the GRA. Later in the year, the new location was awarded 4 Star Green Certification, the first restaurant in the Southeast, and one of only 10 in the United States to achieve the highest level of certification from the GRA. Notable improvements to the south location include: (1) the creation of a hot water system that incorporated six solar thermal hot water panels, plus a heat reclaim system using hot gas from the refrigeration system to pre-heat water, with the overall goal of heating 80% of the restaurant’s hot water needs with free BTU’s; and (2) 95% LED lighting with bulbs rated to last over 20 years creating a lighting system that could run on one 20 amp circuit (5x less than a typical restaurant).

In November 2012, the Green Restaurants achieved the goal of greening 16 area restaurants and achieving GRA’s status as America’s First Green Dining Destination. The entire list can be viewed at dinegreenasheville.com.


Thank you Green Sage for your continued support of BRSI and sustainability in the region!


Visit our previous featured sponsors here:

Purplecat Networks Inc.

Lenoir Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

Build It Naturally

Conrad Industries

Biltmore Farms

Asheville Independent Restaurants

Mack Pearsall

Sundance Power Systems

Advantage West

John Ager

Progress Energy

Buncombe County