In Part I of this series, we discussed how to conduct an energy audit of your coffee shop or restaurant, to learn where best to incorporate energy efficiencies.
If an audit uncovers expensive fixes for your energy habit—like a need to upgrade your restaurant equipment to Energy Star models or install a new H-VAC system (not easy tasks), don’t fear. You can do those things in phases, and in the meantime, implement green measures that won’t break the bank:Conserve water.
Simple changes in your water use such as running the dishwasher only when it is completely full, loosening dried food by soaking rather than rinsing and installing low-flow faucets and toilets can help cut down on water, soap and energy—saving your business money, and possibly thousands of gallons of water—even hundreds of thousands—each year.
Invest in energy efficient lighting.
Make the big switch to energy efficient light bulbs in your restaurant. You’ll save up to $25 per bulb per year in electricity costs.
Got daylight? Keep the lights off.
If your establishment benefits from good natural light, make it a habit to keep lights off when they’re not needed. You might also want to try intelligent lighting that automatically turns lights off when an area is bright enough and doesn’t need to be artificially lit.
Turn down the thermostat.
During the colder months, turning your thermostat down by a degree or two can make a big difference in your energy costs. If going from 72 to 70 is still comfortable, there’s no reason not to do this. The same goes for air conditioning: If it’s cold enough in your establishment that people need a sweater to be comfortable, you’re overdoing it on the AC.
Smart thermostats like Nest and Ecobee are extremely easy to program—they’re as intuitive as any iPhone app—so you can warm the place up just in time for opening, and cool it down at closing time.
Refrigerated food and drinks need to be cold, not frozen.
Use your refrigerators efficiently by keeping items cold enough—not nearly frozen. (Unless they’re in the freezer for future use, of course.)
Purchase sustainable foods.
Food that supports the long-term health of ecosystems and agriculture includes organic and locally grown items, both of which reduce use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers and pollution associated with long-distance transportation. Get in touch with your local farmers to find out what produce they carry, and when.
Recycling and composting.
Recycling is an obvious and easy green initiative as it can be done almost anywhere. (Stay tuned for Green Goals Part III: Eliminating Plastics. It’s a hefty topic that warrants a blog post all its own.)
The key to recycling in a restaurant is to have stations set up in all areas, such as the kitchen, wait station, bar and office. The next important step is training the staff, which can take a little time, but is worth it in the end.
Composting food waste is a natural fit for restaurants that have gardens. It’s easy to do once you have a station set up outside. If you don't have a garden, but still want to recycle food waste into compost, connect with local farmers or garden clubs and arrange for someone to pick up the compost periodically.
Get your staff involved in your green goals.
For your green initiative to succeed, everyone should be involved. Educate your staff about the importance of sorting recyclable items. Tell them to turn off lights when they’re not needed. Encourage them to bring in their own take-home containers instead of using disposable restaurant packaging.
Check out more posts in this series: