Although they have been around for a while, energy management systems (EMS) have been slow to catch on in the foodservice community. That may soon change, however, due to a growing number of restaurant chains exploring whether these efficiency tools can help reduce energy consumption.
Ris Lacoste, chef-owner of RIS, was excited to go through the REAL questionnaire to see how many points her restaurant could earn. "Over half of our menu comes from locally grown food at the height of the season, and I go to the farmer's market about two to three times per week," she says. "Outside of that, we work with a produce purveyor who also sources local product for us."
For the Guckenheimer cafés, the certification process was slightly different than the one for independent restaurants. "They have hundreds of recipes in their database, and in some cases where they have buffets, points for portion control may not be viable," Williams says. High-volume operations such as these also have different cooking preparation and equipment needs.
A Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization has sought to improve the culinary landscape as it pertains to health, nutrition and sustainability. Modeled after the industry-recognized, highly structured LEED certification process, the Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) program aims to recognize and reward restaurants that take steps toward not only saving natural resources, but also offering healthier food options and supporting local, sustainable producers.
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.