Sustainability is Everyone’s Business
We’re all citizens of Earth.
This third rock from the sun may not be the most significant orb in the vast cosmos, but it’s only home we have. As such, in recent years more people have renewed their commitment to this planet and our own future generations.
The word often used today to describe this responsibility is sustainability. While sustainability means different things to different people, most often its definition includes three key elements: the planet itself, economics, and society. And sustainability is no stranger in the restaurant industry.
After all, operators don’t have to be environmental experts to make a difference. When you think about it, ecology and economics go hand in hand. When we reuse, recycle and renew, we are helping to save the planet and its natural resources, while at the same time affecting our own economic well-being. We are perceived by society to be good corporate citizens. Sustainability pays big dividends all around.
From using local and seasonal produce to waste management to community involvement, there are a number of ways for operators to be environmentally responsible. For the purposes of this piece, we’re going to tackle tips for how you can design a sustainable brick-and-mortar establishment.
According to the U. S. Department of Energy, the United States spends about $200 billion to power commercial buildings annually. It is estimated that lighting alone accounts for nearly $40 billion a year.
The very nature of the foodservice industry necessitates an enormous need for power. Many restaurants are open for extended hours each day, which means the lights are on. Customers come and go, allowing cold air in and valuable heat to escape in winter and vice versa in warm months. The coolers and freezers, exhaust fans, ovens and ranges, dishwashers, ice machines and beverage dispensers all must be powered day in and day out.
Intelligent Restaurant Design is A Critical Factor
Sustainable, intelligent restaurant design is a critical factor for operators. Conservation measures add up to big savings, both in terms of money and reduction in fossil fuel depletion. Your menu is another important element in fostering sustainability, saving money and maintaining the natural balance. Here are some effective practices to consider:
- Obtain advice from HVAC professionals on ways to ensure that your heating and cooling systems are working at peak efficiency.
- When replacing appliances, look for models that meet Energy Star® standards.
- Install energy efficient lighting fixtures and light bulbs.
- Maintain all equipment in good working order to ensure peak performance.
- Recycle your paper, glass and plastic refuse according to local requirements.
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
- Install metering faucets and toilets to save water when replacing plumbing fixtures.
- Switch from paper towels to accelerated hand dryers in restrooms. The annual cost savings is considerable, and this measure eliminates adding paper waste to landfills while saving trees.
- Donate used fryer oil to companies that convert it into biodiesel fuel.
- Review your menu on a regular basis to weed out items that do not give a good return on your energy investment or that use ingredients not produced responsibly.
- Use only sustainable seafood on your menu.
- Eliminate food waste by participating in local food bank efforts to feed the needy.