In the foodservice industry, sustainable and cost-cutting initiatives often focus on the sourcing of ingredients, energy-efficient equipment and the like. Foodservice operators and suppliers can look beyond the kitchen, however, to extend their sustainability efforts and lower costs. 

Here are seven cost-saving sustainability tips that apply to all businesses, including foodservice, courtesy of consultant Steve Ashkin of the Ashkin Group.

1. Know where your energy dollars are going. The US Department of Energy has identified lighting, space heating, and cooling as the most energy consuming operations in a facility. “By knowing this, we can take steps to reduce consumption in these specific areas,” Ashkin notes.

2. Conduct an energy audit. Even if we know where most of our energy dollars are going, an energy audit will help identify where energy may be wasted, Ashkin says.

3. Label switches. Labeling switches as to which can remain on and which ones staff should turn off at the end of the day gets building users on board, cutting energy consumption and costs. Related to this, sensor lighting turns lights on and off based on room activity and is a very effective way to cut energy costs, where applicable.

4. Remove personal trash containers. Install centrally located trash bins, some for wet and others for dry trash. This reduces the use of costly plastic liners dramatically.

5. Eliminate team travel, when appropriate. Video conferencing saves money, time, and in most cases, proves very useful.

6. Go low-flow. Reducing water consumption by installing more water efficient fixtures also reduces energy consumption. It takes energy to deliver and remove water from a building. Less water consumed means less energy needed.

7. Allow staff members to work remotely, when applicable. This a cost saving for workers, but some studies also indicate many workers are more productive working from home.

“Also put computers into hibernation mode whenever they are not needed,” says Ashkin. “I see people leave their computers on all day. They consume far less energy when sleeping.”