What is Sustainability Beyond the Plate?

Claudia Pingatore, Energy Analyst

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The food plate gets all the attention…but often times there are many opportunities for sustainability in the back of a restaurant that go ignored…

The FSTC’s Richard Young presented Sustainability Beyond the Plate: Intro to Energy Efficiency on June 23rd discussing the fundamentals of energy and water efficiency for commercial foodservice, from the basic sustainable concepts to calculating utility costs.

The following are three audience takeaways based on the learning goals identified during the seminar:

Kitchens Should Be Concerned About Sustainability

Kitchens are resource intensive! They’re money intensive – costing billions per year to operate; they’re people intensive – employing thousands and feeding millions daily; and of course they are energy- and water-intensive. A restaurant typically has an energy footprint (that is, energy use per unit area) about 5-10 times that of office/retail buildings, and there are tens of thousands of restaurants in California alone! This resource intensity certainly affects your bottom line, but the collective impact puts a lot of pressure on our environment as well. Between what’s on the plate and what it takes to put it there, kitchens are in a uniquely influential position when it comes to sustainability.

Efficiency is a Simple Concept

While efficiency is just a part of sustainability, they often go hand-in-hand. And while sustainability is a comprehensive and sometimes overwhelming concept, efficiency is quite simple: it is how much product you can sell vs. how many ingredients you buy. The key here is to recognize that water and energy are ingredients. Just like oil or flour, utilities are purchased by you, delivered to you, and go into the food you sell—that is, if they’re not wasted.

Director of Education Richard Young presents Sustainability Beyond the Plate at the FSTC on June 23rd, 2016.

You Have More Power Than You Think!

Many kitchen operators think that high utility use is just a part of the job: “The kitchen needs what it needs and I just have to cough up the money for it.” But based on the FSTC’s almost 30 years of research, we can tell you that need not be the case.

Once you start managing your utilities like ingredients and looking for ways to optimize them, you’ll see that there is a world of opportunity. For example, many operators think that efficient appliances are too expensive. However, utility rebates can help offset some of the upfront cost and there are many scenarios where an efficient model can pay for itself through utility savings in just a couple years!
If you remember to look at the FSTC’s online tools or give us a call before you shop, you can avoid a misstep that will actually be “too expensive”. Consider attending one of the FSTC’s many seminars or check out our online training video library if you can’t be with us in person. The FSTC’s online tools and resources are accessible and easy to use, truly empowering the kitchen operator to spend their money wisely and practice sustainability “beyond the plate.”

To see the full presentation from the seminar, click here: www.fishnick.com/handouts/06232016