A majority of restaurateurs across all industry segments have or are looking to invest in energy- and water-efficient technology, while many operators are looking to build efficiency into new construction.
With utilities representing 3 percent to 8 percent of a restaurant’s overall costs, conservation of energy use alone can lower a restaurant’s utility bills and deliver meaningful savings. Today’s restaurateurs also know that good environmental stewardship can attract customers, which makes efficient use of resources a smart choice for a business’s bottom line and the environment.
Energy efficiency is gaining steam, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast. A majority of operators, led by 85% of quickservice operators and nearly 80% of family-dining and fast-casual operators, invested in energy-saving light fixtures in 2012, and between 52% and 75% plan to do so in 2013. About 50% invested in energy-saving kitchen equipment, with 55%-71% planning to do so in 2013. Also in 2013, about half of operators expect to invest in energy-efficient refrigeration, air conditioning or heating systems.
Water efficiency has become a priority for operators. With quickservice restaurants consuming 500 to 1,500 gallons of water a day and full-service restaurants consuming up to 5,000, efficiency is critical. The NRA found that between 29 percent and 50 percent of operators installed water-saving equipment or fixtures in 2012. About 60 percent of fine-dining operators, 55 percent of casual-dining operators, and just about half of operators in other segments plan to upgrade in 2013. Operators are also training employees to conserve water.
Operators are sharing the news: it pays to be efficient. Starbucks switched its stores to LED lighting and reduced its energy use — and bills — 7 percent per store. Darden Restaurants reduced electricity use charges 2 percent per store through its usage scheduling program and DFS lighting. And Ted’s Montana Grill is realizing a 2-to-1 return on its $110,000 investment in low-volt fluorescent lighting. As for operators’ water savings, these flow mainly from replacement of high-consumption equipment such as dipper wells, as well as from staff training.