A Quick Look at Some Foodservice Eco-Investments That Make Sense 

With millennials moving into the marketing driver’s seat as America’s largest population segment, food-buying studies continue to show consumers no longer see dining out as a simple pastime of indulgence.

They now make decisions about what and where they eat based on a social conscience. This trend, of course, is having significant influence on the foodservice industry in a number of ways, including the movement toward ‘green kitchens.’

Make no mistake. Green has its public-relations upside. But, with every eco-friendly alternative should come the same question never to be understated: What’s the ‘environmental impact’ to your bottom line?

As a stepping stone to deeper research, here are two worthy angles to consider.

1. Basic, Low-Cost Eco-Solutions

Among the most sensible eco-investments is that of time, specifically in the way of doing your homework, training your staff or changing habits.

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

Energy efficiency happens long before you make investments. Lean on your consultants and other qualified professionals during kitchen planning or remodeling. Optimizing efficiency is not just about the equipment you buy. It’s also about how the equipment is laid out and installed.

Establish a New Mindset

Just like safety, workplace efficiency is a culture. Study the nuance of your everyday operation and train your staff accordingly. For example, Fast Casual offers some great insight on how to manage waste and conserve resources. Meanwhile, you can also impose low-cost, high-value management habits on yourself as well, such as holding fast to seasonal HVAC and other equipment maintenance schedules. 

Explore Everyday Alternatives

Take lighting, for example. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can cut the cost of incandescent lighting by 75%. Better yet, LEDs (light emitting diodes), while a little more expensive, are at least as efficient as CFLs, but last much longer and offer more functional advantages

2. More Advanced, ROI-Minded Eco-Solutions

On the other end of the green spectrum are other smart, but more sophisticated, ideas in efficiency.

Research the Heck Out of Equipment Purchases

NAFEM recently posted a great energy-efficiency Trend Watch article pointing out that, according to “Pacific Gas and Electric’s Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) . . . 80 percent of the $10 billion spent annually on energy in the commercial foodservice sector is due to inefficient cooking, holding and storage equipment.” (The NAFEM Show, July 26, 2016.)

Virtually every other day a food equipment OEM is launching a new product. Many boast energy and other green-like efficiency attributes, but not all provide a cost savings worth the investment—especially if, in the case of cooking and holding equipment, that savings comes at the expense of performance.

Explore EMS

If you run a foodservice chain, you very well may already be hearing the buzz about web-enabled energy-management systems

Not all providers offer the same depth of service. But, as a standard, implementing an EMS system with any value-add aside, typically results in a 10–15% reduction in annual energy usage. 

Beyond that, robust diagnostic, monitoring and analytics services can add tens of thousands of dollars in equipment optimization and maintenance savings.