Going for the green

Going For The Green

Greening your commercial kitchen – from saving money by installing a more energy-efficient walk-in cooler to using cleaning products that are safer for the environment – is good for your entire company. So the transition should involve your entire staff. Training all your employees will help ensure the new practices are carried out effectively, and everyone is invested in the end result.

Start by setting up a staff meeting to announce your green initiatives. Mandatory attendance – with pay – makes it easier to educate your team, and communicates the importance of a green standard. Ask for your employees to offer suggestions on how to make the workplace more environmentally friendly.

Explain why you're making changes. Restaurants are energy-intensive, and use about 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. With energy costs increasing six to eight percent per year, efficiency measures can help protect your business against rising expenses. Recycling, composting and using sustainable take-out containers help demonstrate to your customers that you are committed to environmental awareness.

Some changes to consider:

  • Installing a Smart Defrost kit™ on the refrigeration system can cut energy usage by reducing defrost cycles up to 45 percent. The unit automatically predicts frost accummulations and defrosts the coil only when needed.
  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) not only uses less electricity, it can also reduce the fixtures' heat output by 75 percent.
  • Using electronically commutated motors (ECM) on evaporator and condenser fans can reduce fan energy usage by two-thirds. Adding automatic door closers and strip curtains to a walk-in refrigerator limits outside air infiltration.
  • Running conveyor-style dishwashers in auto mode and powering down dishwashers at night helps eliminate wasted energy.
  • Replacing air filters and cleaning your heating and cooling system's coils reduces energy costs and helps extend the life of the equipment.

Emphasize training and focus on safety. Whether you're installing new equipment or introducing greener cleaning supplies, your staff should be well-trained on usage and safety.

Assign responsibilities and make your expectations clear. Be sure your staff understands that green behavior is the new norm. Assign tasks to specific employees and enlist responsible staff members to help monitor and encourage green behavior. Be patient and allow time for transition. Create reminders, from small signs and stickers to recycling bins in the break room.

Set an example, and reward employees for positive behavior. Let employees see you recycling cans, or using reusable cups. Make rewards fun and you'll reap the rewards of a fully invested staff.

To learn more about greening your commercial kitchen, visit www.energystar.gov.

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