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  • Michael Oshman

5 Ways to Lower Your Restaurant’s Carbon Footprint

The U.S. restaurant industry consumes 1/3 of all electricity in the retail sector. If we don’t dramatically reduce our planet’s dirty energy consumption, we will see sea levels rise, glaciers melt, increased extreme weather events, and many more negative effects on our Earth. Luckily, there are ways for restaurants to curb their emissions. Here are some ways you can lower your restaurant’s carbon footprint and save money along the way.

1. Invest in high-efficiency pre-rinse sprayers and aerators

These don’t just save water, they also help to save a tremendous amount of energy for your restaurant. Install a pre-rinse spray valve that uses less than a gallon per minute and has a 21 second or less clean time, such as T&S Brass B-0108-C and Strahman Valve’s Kwik Clean 3®. 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. Aerators that use .5 gallons per minute (GMP) are 75% more efficient than 2.2 GMP aerators, and installing just one high efficiency model could save your restaurant $500 per year.

2. Install Energy Star equipment

Whether you’re currently in the construction phase of your restaurant or need to replace an old appliance, investing in Energy Star equipment is key. Energy Star equipment is 30-40% more efficient than traditional models. Some utilities even offer rebates on qualified products.

Source: Energy Star's Guide for Restaurants

3. Renewable Energy

Investing in renewable energy (solar panels, wind power, etc.) can have a profound impact on your restaurants carbon footprint. There is often a good return on investment, which can be 5 years or less; sometimes you can lease them for less than what you are paying on your current electricity bill. It also shows your employees and consumers that you are truly committed to a more sustainable future, which can lead to more business for your restaurant and higher employee retention.

4. Switch out your lightbulbs

LEDs can last over 10 years and emit very little heat. To compare, CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. Although the upfront cost are higher, the bulbs require fewer replacements, less maintenance, and use less energy, which can significantly lower lighting costs over time. The graph below shows how much your restaurant can save by using LEDs.

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

5. On-site food production

Planting an herb or vegetable garden on site is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. On average, food has to travel 1,500 miles to reach its final destination, which in turn creates a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Typically, an American meal contains a least five ingredients from different countries. That is a lot of carbon emissions just for one meal!

Interested in learning more about how you can reduce your restaurant’s energy consumption? Check out our energy certification standards here. If you are interested in becoming a Certified Green Restaurant®, please email or call 617-737-4422.

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