LEDs or Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

Restaurant Interior Design Sustainability Trends 2023

2023 is the year that sustainability and social consciousness in new restaurant design and construction will engage the industry. With an increased awareness of their impact on the environment, customers are actively looking for restaurants that demonstrate sustainable solutions to global issues more than ever before. Restaurants and cafes will begin to advertise at scale how they are actively reducing their environmental footprint through their use of sustainable building materials and deployment of alternative power. The restaurant industry has never been more vibrant and forward-thinking as it will be in 2023. We have identified some key trends that are really pushing the boundaries of sustainable creativity when it comes to new and upgraded designs. The following are the top ten sustainable trends we have identified in 2023.

1.LEDs or Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

While LEDs are not new, they facing increasing demand. Lighting styles are integral when it comes to pushing the limits of what a restaurant experience can be, ranging from theatre lighting to moody dark spaces perfect for intimate dinners. Consumers are becoming more aware of accessibility, color schematics, environmentally friendly materials and unique welcoming designs where all restaurants become worth entertaining guests!

LED and CFL bulbs use less energy than traditional lightbulbs, thus represent an obvious choice for reducing energy waste. When it comes to efficiency, CFLs use about one fourth the amount of energy of a regular bulb but last 10 times longer. In comparison, LEDs require about the same amount of energy as CFL’s yet shine brighter over the course of up to 25 times longer.

Finding bulbs in different colors and shapes to coordinate with restaurant decor is not a challenge; LED and CFL models come in many sizes and styles and are available at many specialist vendors as well as mainstream wholesalers/retailers such as Ferguson Home Depot.

Sustainable value:Reduced power use

Reduced manufactured material & energy cost

Reduced replacement cost


2.Timers and Motion Sensors for Lighting

Lighting rooms with no occupants is a major energy waste and can have a significant monthly impact on electricity expenses. Restaurants are moving en masse towards light automation using timers and motion sensors. This way, the habit of forgetting and leaving lights is eliminated. Traditionally, restaurants and hotels were installing automatic lights in areas such as bathrooms, storage rooms, and offices. These spaces aren’t typically occupied for long periods of time, thus transitioning to motion sensor activated lighting is an effective step towards reducing energy consumption. However, moving forward, restaurants have more access to new technology that provides sensors and timers for main areas, resulting in lighting, HVAC, and other energy utilization only as needed and with substantial waste removal. These strategies enable restaurants to cut back on energy waste relating to lighting, general power, and equipment.

Sustainable value:Reduced power use

Reduced manufactured material & energy cost

Reduced replacement cost

Extended equipment life


Biophilic Design

3.Biophilic Design

Biophilic design utilizes nature’s elements to craft an inviting atmosphere that reduces stress and emotions. Photographs, plants, and stimulating colors immerse visitors in the decor’s natural embrace and enliven them with confidence in the environment. Other materials discussed later in this trend forecast, such as hemp and bamboo-based construction materials, add to the natural and sensory dining experience. Biophilic design not only gives customers joy while they visit a restaurant or cafe but also helps increase margins on profits and attract more patrons due to its uniqueness and a serene, balanced ambiance. Furthermore, air filtration through living flowers and plants greatly reduces dangerous airborne germs, which is attractive given the Covid-19 experience.

Sustainable value: Reduced need for paint

Reduced replacement cost

Reduce noise levels naturally


4.Low-Flow Toilets, Sinks, and Spray Valves

Low-flow water fixtures are quickly becoming the norm, making environmentalists and restaurant owners alike consider switching over from conventional models. In fact, some countries and states are only allowing the sale of more eco-friendly alternatives.

How much does a low-flow toilet, sink, or spray valve really help reduce water waste? These new options utilize quite an array of technologies to use far less water than previous generations possibly could. The [US] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that older toilets used as much as 6 gallons in a single flush, compared to the 1.28 to 1.6 gallons held by modern ones.

Switching over is beneficial from both perspectives: it reduces the consumption of finite natural resources and reduces water charges significantly.

Sustainable value:Reduced water and energy use

Reduced replacement cost

Reduced utility cost


5.Solar Power

In the 1980s, when solar technology was first introduced, it had limited capabilities. However, since then, it has drastically improved in efficiency with installation and usage now easier than ever before for all users. This advancement in renewable energy can benefit both the environment and reduce electricity bills for those who opt to switch to solar power instead of relying on fossil fuels and natural gas.

Currently, restaurants are particularly eager to use solar because it is reportedly less costly and ordinarily exempt from traditional electrical outages caused by extreme weather events. For this reason, observers predict that in 2023 there will be huge uptake of these clean energy sources across hotels, restaurants, and cafes due to the competing benefits of money saved as well as contributing a positive message about sustainability.

Sustainable value:Reduced utility cost

Reduced grid-based energy reliance

Protection against local power outages

Potential tax incentives offered by government


Widely acclaimed to have the lowest environmental impact from a lumber alternative, HempWood® is being adopted for a variety of construction and decoration uses in restaurants. Restaurants are now able to engage mass production and order fulfilment for this unique and magnificent material. The utilization of a multitude of eco-friendly hemp materials has given birth to sustainable design and finish materials of ever-increasing quality. HempWood consists of safe, non-toxic hemp composites that serve many purposes, such as counters, wall siding, planters, and flooring.

Sustainable value:Reduced deforestation

*Highly renewable *Hemp grows in 120 days, compared to 50-100 years for oak trees.



Bamboo is a star green building material! Getting it just right requires very little energy and its unique benefits help the environment beyond just buildings. Bamboo can prevent soil erosion, yield an impressive biofuel, provide shelter to wildlife, and manufacture a beautiful food source for numerous populations.

In South-East Asia, bamboo is commonly used to construct numerous structures such as scaffolding, upright props, and even entire huts and houses. It is difficult to believe that a predictable, seemingly “fragile” material can actually be stronger than steel. And yet it’s true; the tensile strength of a steel bar is 23,000 pounds per square inch (PSI), while the jiboo variety widely available in those regions amazingly exceeds standard specs with an incredible 28,000 PSI.

Restaurants are using bamboo in table tops, chairs, wall siding, and flooring, as well as operational execution such as disposable bamboo cutlery. The adoption is growing where demand is higher than supply, thus resulting in a dominant sustainable trend in the hospitality sectors.

Sustainable value:Reduced deforestation

*Highly renewable. *Bamboo grows insanely fast, sometimes at a rate of 3 feet (90cm) per day, depending on variety. To grow to full maturity only takes 1 to 5 years Nontoxic


8.Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is often the favorite material for designers of award-winning hospitality designs. Its use is surprising in its innovation and broad range of applications, from floors to walls to near about any design style. Wood has been reclaimed for generations for its inherent durability and warmth as well as its unique character resulting from all it went through before being chosen again, styling in streaks and nail holes which are truly remarkable in their representation of stories untold. With this elegance amidst history, the signs of reclaimed wood add distinct flavor, whatever style it is given. Capturing nature’s varied hues and adventures from many years back, reclaimed wood can cherish our memories as part of a noble legacy that deserves everlasting responses.

Reclaimed wood products have seen a resurgence in demand in large part due to the sustainability of the material. While there are transport costs involved, no tree needs to be culled. By way of example: one of TNI Design’s clients has opted for a 100% reclaimed wood siding for their new interior design. This decision will save around 70 trees per location totalling 5,000 trees for the entire remodel program.

Sustainable value:

Reduced deforestation

Renewable and reusable


9.Recycled Glass

For the environmentally-minded designer, tiles and slabs created from sustainable bamboo, reclaimed wood, and recycled glass components provide a wonderfully satisfying way to make an impact on their surroundings. These unique, one-of-a-kind materials are made from mirror windows, windshield shards, and demolished glass that have been mixed with a binder to create magnificent terrazzo-type slabs. Not only is this material mix being adopted as floor, wall, and counter finish options, they also deliver stunning aesthetic results in addition to offering important practical benefits of stain resistance and reduced maintenance. Perhaps best of all is their incredible potential to showcase artistic beauty while serving their sustainable purpose at the same time.

Sustainable value:Reduced deforestation

Renewable and reusable



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reports on restaurant waste reveals that an astonishing 60-80% of garbage produced is comprised of food waste, amounts which can have an immediate negative environmental impact from a human perspective. Composting provides a useful strategy in tackling this particular issue as it keeps this waste out of landfills and reduces the instances of hazardous emissions released into the atmosphere. Additionally, to compost encourages savings on waste hauling and disposal costs in favor of a more natural strategy for fertilizing nearby plants and cultivating truer nourishment over time. Ultimately, with active composting, restaurants can cultivate connections within their local community.

Composting also has economic benefits. With most of a restaurant’s waste being composted, businesses can reduce the number of trash pickups its establishment requires and therefore lowers its waste removal bill. If a restaurant grows its own produce, it can use its compost instead of purchasing expensive fertilizer.

Sustainable value:

Reduced trash pick ups

Reduced trash costs

Reduced deforestation

Renewable and reusable

Sustainability has gone beyond merely being a recent trend in hospitality; it has now become the basis for forward-thinking restaurant design and construction. Consumers are increasingly discerning regarding restaurants that use sustainable materials, making it necessary for dining brands to take this concern seriously, not only to stay ahead of their competition, but also out of respect for our impact on the environment.

As of this year, many socially mindful restaurants are now taking the initiative and actively informing their customers about the actions they are taking in favor of sustainability, including utilizing different eco-friendly resources and practices. Such efforts will be immensely beneficial long term as it builds loyalty while ensuring their core values remain aligned with their customers’ needs.

At TNI Design, we pride ourselves with staying ahead of trends when it comes to new restaurant designs and space upgrades. Our expertise is in combining current and upcoming style choices within eateries. Integrating comfort, functionality, and stunning aesthetics, we strive to create the most interesting restaurant spaces that invite customers in from the moment they approach the doors. We believe any good design should complement its operations and promote efficiencies both small and large, contributing not just aesthetically but also economically. From flooring designs to shades of paint, our forward-thinking engineering team puts modern imaginative touches on every project. Here at TNI Design, we love creating breathtakingly beautiful and sustainable restaurant designs tailored specifically to our customer’s visions and desires.

About The Author Robert Ancill:

Robert Ancill is the CEO of TNI Design and The Next Idea Group. Widely considered the ultimate restaurant authority on emerging and frontier food and design trends, Robert is well known as one of America’s leading Global Restaurant Design Consultants.

Contact: TNI Design +1 818 887 7714 / info@tnidesign.com