Everyone loves to eat out at a restaurant—food just tastes better when a chef prepares it and you don’t have to wash the dishes. But when it comes to sustainability reporting, most restaurants are in the black, not the green.
Restaurants use large amounts of energy and water and produce vast amounts of waste. “There’s huge potential for increasing sustainability in the hospitality industry as we are a huge user, and abuser, of energy,” says Allen Someck of the New York State Restaurant Association.
Someck is the director of a new Green Restaurant Initiative grant awarded to the NYS Restaurant Association by the Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of the grant is to educate restaurant owners on energy conservation and sustainability.
“Our focus will be on how to reduce energy, water, and hazardous waste at the restaurant level while supporting each individual restaurant’s bottom line,” said Someck. “It’s a way for us to facilitate the green movement in the hospitality sector.”
The grant includes providing a series of eight conservation trainings for restaurant owners over a period of 18 months. Trainings include presentations from energy industry leaders and departments as well as sustainability experts. In addition, audits will be performed at each restaurant in order to customize conservation recommendations and energy efficiency tips.
“We have found the best way to implement change is to work with restaurants on a one-on-one basis. We’ll be making recommendations for short and long term investments,” says Someck. “Some of the recommendations will be immediate and easy to implement. Others will require more planning.”
Among the innovative clean technologies discussed at the training series will be an affordable energy management system that allows a restaurant owner to control the restaurant’s energy system, including temperature and compression levels, remotely from a laptop.
A big step in the right direction, I’d say. Kudos to the NYS Restaurant Association for leading New York restaurants into a greener, more ecofriendly future.