Forget pepperoni and extra cheese—a new generation of pizzerias tops their pies with social and environmental consciousness. Michael Gordon and Vaughn Lazar founded Pizza Fusion in Deerfield Beach, Florida, in 2006, envisioning a fast food–type restaurant that would change the industry. “The decisions we’ve made involve common restaurant choices—water usage, building standards, delivery vehicles,” explains Lazar. “We’ve just chosen the most eco-friendly options and hope others follow our lead.”

Pizza Fusion—which has four locations in Florida and sixty-three franchises in the works in nine other states—boasts an impressive list of eco initiatives. The company requires franchisees to build according to LEED certification standards, aims to eliminate water heaters by recycling the heat from its ovens, and makes deliveries in company-owned hybrids, part of a growing nationwide trend.

Overall, the pizza sector has been at the forefront of the green restaurant movement. In Minneapolis, Galactic Pizza runs on wind power and employs a fleet of electric delivery cars; Hot Lips in Portland, Oregon, relies on bikes, two electric cars, and a hybrid to transport their pizzas; and last year, Dominos tested ZAP Xebra electric cars for deliveries in Las Vegas. Will a handful of green-minded restaurateurs and industry execs actually transform the delivery scene? Who knows, but watch for outfits like Pizza Fusion to make it all look as easy as, well, pie.

Story by Jessica Tzerman. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008