By Brent Francese, Lead Designer at Clean Living
The restaurant and hospitality industry is keenly aware of their energy and natural resource use. Not only do they see it reflected in their utility bills, but as a whole, they make every effort to be socially responsible with the products they use and an overall reduction of waste.
Recently, Dennis Quaintance - owner of the Lucky 32 restaurants and the O'Henry Hotel - was interviewed by Frank Stasio, the host of “The State of Things” (WUNC-FM). Quaintance talked about how he became recognized for his green building efforts (as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council) through the design efforts of the Proximity Hotel, in Greensboro, NC. You can listen to the March 15th “The State of Things” broadcast on the WUNC Web site.
In the interview, one of the areas that comes forth is the struggle to find the payback in ‘Going Green’. In some cases it may not be the best overall choice. There will be instances where the better choice may be a traditional use item, or product, over its green counterpart. But, there are ways that today’s restaurant and hospitality veteran can make better, more informed decisions in the choice to go green.
One of the first places to look is energy use. The simple and straightforward options are in lighting; numerous lighting options are available to reduce overall consumption of electricity and often provide a ‘cooler’ operating environment for a reduction in air conditioning use. Also, look for opportunities to reduce the duration of lighting by offering spot illumination, automatic sensors, or more efficient outdoor lighting in signage and parking lots.
When acquiring new equipment, something Dennis Quaintance conveyed in his interview as ‘first use’, energy efficiency should not be the only consideration in your choice of equipment. By combining this purchase with a larger picture of reduction possibilities, you may find that going green in one area can help in the selection of another, e.g., greener landscaping or building material that lowers the overall temperature of the building may help reduce the amount of cooling/heating power needed for the building – you may be able to purchase a smaller HVAC unit.
Another natural resource to consider is water. Our recent drought conditions in North Carolina brought a keen awareness to the patron and server when it comes to a glass of water served at the table. However, when the drought seemed to pass, in some cases, so did the effort to reduce consumption. Some of the good habits learned in the drought can be adapted for use on a permanent basis. Also, this carries over into washrooms and water usage. Beyond low-flow fixtures, and those with automated mechanisms, think in terms of products that can clean more efficiently with less water, as well as looking for a reduction in cleaning agent use. Here again, a more careful selection in building materials and products can make a difference in the way they withstand frequent cleaning and foot traffic.
Consider your building, landscaping, and overall land use. The smaller the footprint, the better. When it comes to landscaping, think drought. Your plant selection will not only weather better, but in most cases you will reduce water consumption from irrigation, require less maintenance of the grounds, and become a candidate for a reduction in landscaping service costs from outside vendors.
New planting that may require more maintenance in the form of trees or other larger plantings may be a means to cool your building naturally while improving the overall appearance. This is where careful planning and a long term view should be taken into account. Other areas to consider are designs that inadvertently encourage abuse of the landscaping from foot traffic, or shortcuts by employees to other areas of the building.
Lastly, think education. You can carry the Go Green movement outside the confines of your establishment by helping your employees to think green. This effort can bring new opportunities for you as employees return to work with ideas and methods that can help you achieve a stronger environmental presence for your business.
Many local resources are available to learn more about green building practices for businesses. The North Carolina Triangle Chapter of U.S. Green Building Council was formed in 2004, and serves the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel-Hill area and eastern North Carolina. You can locate other chapters throughout the country via the U.S. Green Building Council web site.
About Brent Francese (Raleigh, NC):
Known for his work in the field of construction, Brent has served numerous office environments, small and large residential projects, commercial developments, retail developments and mixed use buildings. He is also an accomplished musician and graphic designer.
Clean Living is the collaboration of two architects, Tony Lineberry + Brent Francese – “Our world has become overwhelmed with the "green" label of design and architecture. It is our goal to help shed this label into creating a smart architecture for living our lives. This architecture is an organic one that will become a necessity to our environment and our daily lives.” More information on Clean Living can be found at: https://www.designsforcleanliving.blogspot.com/