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Empowering Restaurants in America

How Growing a Green Restaurant Lets Your Business Blossom

Photo: Courtesy of chuttersnap

Kelsey Dalzell

Communications Associate, Green Restaurant Association

The restaurant industry consumes one-third of all electricity in the retail sector, and the average restaurant uses 300,000 gallons of water per year. One of the best ways for restaurants to reduce their water and energy usage is by choosing the most efficient equipment, and make sure it continues to run optimally.

Efficient equipment

Food service facilities are highly energy intensive, and 80 percent of energy is often wasted through noise and excess heat because of inefficient equipment, refrigeration, lights and air conditioning systems. If you’re currently in the construction phase of your restaurant or need to replace an old appliance, investing in Energy Star equipment is a great way to minimize your energy use. Energy Star equipment is 30-40 percent more efficient than traditional models. Some utilities even offer rebates on qualified products.

Small changes, big impact​​​​​​​

You don’t need to completely overall your kitchen equipment to see a reduction in energy and water usage at your restaurant. Taking small, often inexpensive steps can still yield significant savings. We recommend installing high efficiency pre-rinse sprayers and aerators. Installing just one high efficiency pre-rinse spray valve in your restaurant could save approximately 50,000 gallons of water, $780 and 10,000 kWh a year.

Insulation provides a barrier to lessen heat loss and gain. Some insulation that you can utilize in your restaurant include: strip curtains on walk-in freezer doors, weather stripping on doors and windows and night curtains on merchandisers.

Maintenance matters

While it’s important to purchase efficient equipment, if you don’t properly maintain your kitchen appliances, even the most effective equipment will suffer. Make sure to keep your equipment clean, check seals on ovens and steamers, turn off unused equipment and regularly look for leaks. Setting up a maintenance calendar and educating your staff on proper equipment management can help your equipment last longer.

Programmable thermostats can keep your restaurant at a consistent temperature and allow you to adjust the temperature depending on when your restaurant is open or closed. Each degree that you turn your thermostat down, your restaurant will use 1 percent less energy.

Change out your lightbulbs. LEDs can last over 10 years, requiring fewer replacements, less maintenance and less energy, which can significantly lower lighting costs over time.

Restaurant kitchens generate enormous amounts of heat from dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, etc., and it often escapes through the roof. Your restaurant could be capturing and reusing that heat to help save energy. Heat recovery systems capture hot water or air from your kitchen equipment, and then are used to heat water and air.

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