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Sustainability remains a core component of the foodservice industry. Here’s a recap of 10 simple, cost-effective, ways foodservice designers can work with operators to reduce their energy consumption.

The strategies come from Energy Upgrade California, an education initiative dedicated to informing the public about energy management and efficiency in partnership with the Green Business Network, a program created by the nonprofit Green America to encourage businesses in all sectors to reduce their carbon footprint.

  1. Toss those incandescent bulbs once and for all, and pick up some LEDs. These greener bulbs, which have become more effective and less cost prohibitive as of late, use 25 percent to 30 percent less energy and they last up to 25 times longer than halogen incandescent bulbs. This means less time spent climbing ladders and more time keeping customers happy.
  1. Install motion sensor lights. Foodservice operators will never again have to remember to flip the switches off before they leave a room if you specify motion-activated lights. Using less artificial light is one of the easiest ways to cut down on energy costs.
  1. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models. Energy Star-certified exhaust fans with lighting can potentially save 70 percent more energy than typical models. By choosing an energy-efficient fan, your business can save money on electricity and enjoy a quieter space.
  1. Install low-flow faucets. In bathroom and kitchen sinks, low-flow faucets reduce excessive use of water. Heating water can be extremely costly and using less is good for your energy bill and your state’s water reservoirs.
  1. Wrap an old water heater with an insulating jacket. Make sure to not cover the air intake valve, though. This gives water heaters a coat can save up to 10 percent on water heating costs.
  1. Use a programmable thermostat. If you’re all about installing motion sensor lights, you might as well go ahead and save an extra 10 percent on annual heating and cooling costs by installing programmable thermostats that will automatically regulate the temperature of a building. For more savings, set that thermostat just one degree warmer than you normally would in the summertime; that will typically save 2 percent to 3 percent on cooling costs.
  1. Insulate and seal ducts. If your ducts aren’t in a row, you’re losing out big time. Sealing and insulating ducts properly can help to reduce up to 20 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption.
  1. Encourage your client to change air filters regularly. While the lifespan of an air filter can vary from product to product, it’s important to regularly check your HVAC equipment’s filters. A good rule of thumb to offer your clients is to change air filters any time they look dirty, no matter how long ago they were replaced. A dirty air filter makes the HVAC system work harder and reduces air flow, costing money and potentially turning into a bigger issue that requires mechanical maintenance.
  1. Encourage an energy audit. Foodservice operators may believe they are saving energy but continue to see high utility bills. Suggest that they request an energy assessment from their local energy provider, which will help identify any issues and determine areas where they can save more energy and money. The best part? Many electric utility companies offer audits for free.
  1. Become a certified green business. There is a growing list of legit green certification programs out there, and these programs help businesses make the most of their energy-, water- and waste-saving efforts. Don’t know where to start? Check with your local energy provider to learn about potential programs that could assist your clients in reducing their carbon footprint. In addition to the California Green Business Network, there is also the Green Restaurant Association, the Green Business Bureau, WELL, LEED, Green C Certification, EDGE, The Institute for Green Business Certification, Bay Area Green Business Program and Green Plus.