Three-star Michelin restaurant Azurmendi has once again been crowned the “World’s Most Sustainable Restaurant” by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Noteworthy for its renewable energy systems that offset the building’s carbon footprint, the LEED Gold-certified restaurant has also distinguished itself as a leader of sustainable development with its proactive community role in encouraging knowledge-sharing and a circular economy. Located in Spain near the town of Bilbao, Azurmendi is also currently working on a germplasm bank to host over 400 local seed varieties of vegetables to show the importance of preserving genetic diversity. 


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Helmed by owners Eneko Atxa and Gorka Izagirre, Azurmendi was developed with the belief that all parts of the restaurant’s operations should be holistically considered, from the land it sits on to the surrounding Basque cultural heritage. Completed in 2010, the bioclimatic building was designed to minimize site impact and incorporate local and recycled materials as well as cutting-edge renewable energy systems. In addition to being recognized as the World’s Most Sustainable Restaurant by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2014 and 2018, Azurmendi also earned LEED Gold certification and is the first sustainable restaurant of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula.

Related: Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

tree stump seats inside a room of glass walls and ceilings
cloth-covered tables beside walls of glass

Along with adherence to passive solar conditions to minimize energy usage, Azurmendi is equipped with highly efficient insulation, energy-efficient fixtures and high-performance glass that improves energy savings by 50%. The building draws power from photovoltaic solar panels as well as geothermal energy, which is used to power the climate control systems. Rainwater is collected and stored in tanks large enough to cover 100% of irrigation and toilet needs.

bright orange tables and brown seats in covered courtyard
lounge chairs in a room with glass walls

To further reduce its carbon footprint, the owners planted 700 native trees around the restaurant. They have also joined an initiative promoted by the City of Larrabetzu to recycle all of the restaurant’s organic waste into compost that is then used by local farmers to fertilize their fields. Azurmendi works closely with several producers in the area for local ingredients, which are picked up by a single truck in one trip to reduce carbon emissions.

+ Azurmendi

Images via Azurmendi