In this award-winning column, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies looks at best practices, case studies and more on how to take the best ideas in green building and operations and apply it to your foodservice operation.
With the concept of sustainability becoming more top of mind for most everyone, buzz words like "green," "eco-friendly" and others now permeate all facets of the business and consumer worlds, from advertisements to product packaging to marketing and signage on company doors and windows.
A key component of any sustainable foodservice operation involves saving energy, water and waste as well as reducing carbon footprints. Not only does this benefit the environment, it also makes the business more efficient.
Talking about going green is one thing, but as with any business endeavor, the key to quantifiable success comes about through careful goal setting, assessing, planning and measuring results. Sustainability consultants use calculated, thought-out plans to help companies set goals and follow through on them. Here's how.
Now in its 20th year, Croc's 19th Street Bistro in Virginia Beach, Va., is a popular restaurant among tourists, locals and those visiting the nearby convention center. But it has also made huge strides as the first green-focused restaurant in the state, as recognized by the state's tourism department and its Virginia Green program, a self-certifying initiative geared toward conserving the state's natural resources through waste reduction, recycling and energy and water efficiency, among other sustainable efforts. Croc's earned this certification in 2008, a couple years after the restaurant had already set forth on a green plan of action.
Purchasing energy-efficient equipment can lead to, in some cases, dramatic reductions in energy and water costs — that's been proven. But without proper maintenance or operator training, poor performance can easily negate any potential savings. What then is the point of those upfront investments?
Sarah Elizabeth Ippel had a vision. In fact, beginning at the ripe age of 23, she spent 2 years pounding on the Chicago Board of Education's doors — figuratively speaking — until they considered her proposal for a green charter school.
Water filtration systems have improved dramatically over the years, and the range of options for use and types of use have increased, as well.
Four years ago, the University of Texas (UT) at Austin embarked on a complete renovation project of its dining facilities and kitchens. The fourth and final phase, completed last year at Jester Second Floor Dining Room, helped seal the deal on the university's plans to create a more sustainable dining and meal preparation environment for students, faculty and staff.
With an equipment-wide update to Energy Star qualifications coming down the pipe early next year, the Food Service Technology Center has been actively working on developing specifications for commercial water heaters, a new venture for the industry and for the FSTC.
Trayless dining took the college foodservice sector by storm a few years ago, just as the sustainability movement began taking shape. Trayless dining means less food waste (because students are not piling on mounds of food they won't end up eating), in addition to potentially less energy and water use (because trays aren't run 24/7 through a flight-type dishmachine).