FCSI Panel LEEDs the Discussion on the Greening of Foodservice

A veteran foodservice design consultant shares three keys to achieving LEED status for a design project.

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The greening of foodservice operations remains top of mind for most every member of the industry. Generally speaking, most every foodservice operator is in favor of making their business more environmentally friendly but the key is balancing the extra costs associated with going green with the return such steps can provide. In other words, everyone is in favor of helping the environment right up to the point when they have to pay for it.

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So it was with great interest that I attended a FCSI-sponsored LEED panel discussion that took place on the eve of The NAFEM Show. The room was swollen with consultant and allied members of FCSI, which leaves me believing that the many people throughout the industry are continuing to come to grips with what it actually means to be green in a foodservice sense.

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Moderator Richard Eisenbarth of Cini Little, an international design consulting firm, shared his experiences on what it takes to get a foodservice project LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. All foodservice-related LEED projects share three common traits, he said, including:

An Owner Committed to Pursuing LEED Certification: Because some of the more energy-efficient pieces of equipment tend to cost more than other items, the price of pursuing LEED certification can be higher than other foodservice projects. As a result, if the owner is not committed to pursuing LEED, the project runs the risk of having the energy-efficient items value-engineered out in order to cut up front costs.

Know Your Baseline: It is important to understand the starting point for energy consumption, water use and other environmental factors and be able to show the ways the project improves upon these levels. Expanding on this point, later in the presentation Bill Clark of Manitowoc Foodservice, said that the typical foodservice operation's energy consumption breaks down something like this: 13 percent to lighting, 6 percent to refrigeration, 18 percent to sanitation, 35 percent to food preparation and 28 percent on HVAC.

No One Piece of Equipment will Result in Earning a LEED Point: Specifying energy-efficient products, including those with Energy Star ratings, can help a foodservice project eventually accumulate LEED points but no specific piece of equipment will generate a LEED point on its own, Eisenbarth said. It is important to know the innovative aspects of a foodservice design and be able to quantify that when pursuing LEED. For example, low-volume exhaust hoods can be very helpful when pursuing LEED. But it is important to quantify the actual savings these items represent.

Clearly, there's a lot more to cover with LEED and the overall greening of foodservice. So in my next post, I will share a few other thoughts from this panel based on the presentation of Todd Taylor, director of design for Darden Restaurants.
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