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Why Going Green is Good for Business

Typical restaurant owners and operators have a lot on their plates--literally. From keeping track of labor expenses to managing food cost to ensuring customer satisfaction, the restaurant owner is always concerned with ensuring the restaurant's success. One way to mark this success is by measuring the restaurant's ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Going green is one of the most important movements affecting commercial food service operations today. Going green can be one of the smartest operational decisions you can make for your restaurant, as it not only reduces consumption and draws environmentally-conscious customers, but actually saves money for your operation in the long run.

Save Profits
As a restaurant operator, chances are you know exactly what expenses are bogging down your profit and loss (P&L) statement. What you may not know is that going green can actually save money for your restaurant. By reducing consumption and changing some daily behaviors, your operations can move from guzzling energy to saving money. Going green involves many transitions, especially in a commercial environment where electricity, gas, water and disposable products are used in vast quantities on a regular basis. Use the following guidelines to protect the environment as well as your profits:

Invest in energy-efficient commercial kitchen equipment. Purchase ENERGY STAR® qualified commercial kitchen equipment whenever your old equipment wears out. With efficient equipment, your operation will consume less energy and less water without sacrificing quality. In fact, the money you save in utility bills is often enough to recover the cost of the equipment itself. »

Establish a start-up and shut-down schedule. Your commercial kitchen equipment may be constantly powered on, running up a high energy bill even during your slowest hours. Develop a schedule that educates kitchen staff when to turn on and when to turn off the equipment to help minimize lost profits.

Switch to energy-saving restaurant lighting. A simple to way reduce energy usage and cut down on monthly expenses is to replace your conventional light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescent lighting. These bulbs produce less heat and more light, putting the energy dollars where they count the most.
» Learn More About Energy-Efficient Lighting for Restaurants

Retain Customers
In a 2008 National Restaurant Association survey, 62 percent of consumers polled stated that they would prefer to dine at an environmentally-friendly restaurant if given the choice.1 Making earth-friendly changes in your operation requires a great effort on your part, but that effort is crucial to gaining the allegiance of almost two thirds of American diners. Customers today are conscious of their choices as well as that of the businesses where they spend their time and money. Operating an environmentally-conscious restaurant is a key strategy in keeping your business going strong in a future of strained resources and educated diners. As an owner or operator, be sure you consider your customers' opinions and values. Communicate your own values by making the choice to go green.

stack of disposable and washable cups and plates Conserve Resources
Restaurants pollute the earth's atmosphere and water resources every time they open their doors for business. In fact, studies show that commercial kitchens use over twice the energy per square foot than other commercial buildings.2 By taking steps to make your restaurant more environmentally friendly, you will reduce your operation's negative impact on the environment and improve your commitment to a healthier atmosphere.

Use green cleaners in place of conventional cleaners. Green cleaning agents are preferable when it comes to their impact on the environment, meaning that they do not contain harmful chemicals which can contaminate water resources and harm wildlife.
» Learn More About Making Your Own Green Cleaners

Reduce your restaurant's water consumption. Although water is relatively inexpensive, overuse has already begun to affect the global demand for clean and safe drinking water. Install a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve, reuse water when possible and simply reform daily operational behaviors in the commercial kitchen to begin conserving water.
» Learn More About Saving Water in the Commercial Kitchen

Cut down on waste. Restaurants produce an egregious amount of waste. From wasted food product to empty food containers, most restaurant operators can stand to reduce their garbage output by implementing a recycling program, composting food scraps and using biodegradable materials.
» Learn More About Waste Reduction in the Commercial Kitchen

Restaurants benefit from going green by saving more money, retaining eco-conscious customers and conserving resources at the same time. Going green is a smart move for your operation in many ways. Consider implementing these behavioral and equipment changes that will profit your restaurant as well as the environment.

1 "Restaurant Industry—Facts at a Glance" National Restaurant Association, Restaurant.org http://www.restaurant.org/research/ind_glance.cfm (accessed November 30, 2008).
2 Commercial Food Service Equipment, Energystar.gov http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=commercial_food_service.commercial_food_service (accessed November 30, 2008).