Categorized | Featured, Operations

Green Restaurants, Higher Profits

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Agile Chef

Part 1 of 2

These days, you’ve probably heard a lot about running a more sustainable, environmentally friendly restaurant. But it takes so much effort to keep your operation running smoothly, the last thing you want to do is change the formula that’s working for you! Don’t worry — it’s easier than you’d think to run a greener establishment with just a few quick changes to your daily operations, and with all the incentives out there for eco-friendly restaurateurs, the timing couldn’t be better to start greening” your business.

In our two-part series on greener restaurants, we’ll give you some surprisingly simple tips for conserving water, energy and cash. We’ll also show you how to use the three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) to run a cleaner, greener establishment. You can improve your operation’s environmental efficiency through the simplest substitutions or the most creative recycling programs. We’ll help you find the right balance for your restaurant.

Energy Conservation
Begin by taking a look at your business’ energy consumption. After all, for many restaurants, energy is the third largest controllable expense after food and labor costs. Considering restaurants consume more electricity and use five times more energy per square foot than other commercial establishments, it’s no surprise that utility bills can comprise up to 30% of a business’ yearly budget. Luckily, it couldn’t be easier to improve your restaurant’s energy efficiency while lowering water and electricity bills to boot.

Lighting & Electricity
Lighting is a great place to start. First, switch out your old incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED alternatives for longer-lasting, energy-efficient lighting solutions. This simple swap can save you roughly $30 in electricity bills over the course of each bulb’s life; that translates to hundreds of dollars in savings (not to mention fewer light bulb changes) when you replace all your restaurant’s lighting.

For further savings, don’t forget to turn off any unused lights, both inside and outside your restaurant. (If security is a concern, try replacing lighting fixtures with motion detectors. It’s an easy way to conserve energy without scrimping on safety.)

Water Conservation
Make sure your restaurant is conserving water, as well. Wait to run your dishwasher or washing machine until you’ve got full loads, and take time to select the right volume settings to avoid wasting water. Instead of defrosting frozen foods under running water, stick them in the fridge instead. And look toward tankless water heaters and low-flow toilets to keep your restaurant’s plumbing system as energy-efficient as the rest of your place.

Energy Star Appliances
To conserve additional energy (and save even more on electricity), unplug appliances in the kitchen and dining area after use, and consider newer Energy Star models when it comes time to replace old appliances. Make sure to keep them clean and well-maintained so they run as efficiently as they did the day you bought them!

Energy Monitoring
Additionally, look into installing an energy monitoring system to record restaurant-specific energy consumption data and compare it against predicted energy use. These remote monitoring systems let restaurant operators control everything from ceiling fans to thermostats and access their business’ energy rates online at any time, meaning equipment misuse or malfunctions can be corrected right away – before they create unnecessary expenses.

Factor in government-issued credits for energy-efficient businesses, and it’s no wonder operators are watching their utility costs decrease for the first time in months, if not years.

When it comes to greening your restaurant, there’s no better place to start than with your daily utilities. Keep a closer eye on your business’ water and electricity use, and you’ll see for yourself why increased energy efficiency goes hand in hand with higher profits.

Check back later for part two in our Green Restaurants series to learn how the right recycling program can work for your restaurant!

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