Regardless of whether an operator seeks LEED certification, it remains prudent to make every effort to become as sustainable and efficient as possible.
Arons explains that the desire to be green often comes up against the cost of doing it. Even though a foodservice operator wants to be green, the project "ends up being more yellow" because of up-front costs. While he supports the principle of sustainability and efficiency, Arons also understands that cost may be a deterrent for some operators to embrace the new systems.
On the other hand, money is also a big motivator. "Good business people will understand the return on the up-front investment," Arons says. "And, if you help the environment at the same time, it's a win-win."
Tarah Schroeder, LEED AP, director of sustainability at Ricca Newmark Design in Denver, believes that perception of higher costs plays a large role in a company's decision to delay going green. Some owners, she says, have a lower tolerance for return on investment, so strategies that reduce energy or water use over the lifetime of a foodservice operation might be overlooked.
As the market for energy-efficient equipment matures, the capital investment will not be as great. "Options are becoming more cost neutral now," Stanley says.
The effort does not stop with achieving certification or completing a project according to LEED guidelines. There must be a program for monitoring performance to ensure that equipment and processes are producing the optimal effect.
Schroeder agrees. "Follow through on design intent is critical. The success of a sustainability initiative depends on how the equipment is operated," she says.
LEED has organized and is driving the green revolution in foodservice design. Regardless of whether an operation becomes certified, the LEED program stands as the guide for sustainability and efficiency. Operators who don't start some aspect of a greening program will be left behind the curve.