Sustainable Restaurant Design and Sustainable Operations

KONTEKSO Team Design, Hospitality Design, Restaurant, studio KONTEKSO

You’re thinking about the future and want to do your part of being a responsible chef or restaurant owner.  So you have your Prius or Tesla and hired the perfect design team that designed you a green, environmentally conscious restaurant; don’t get excited yet! That is only half the battle and your job of being a responsible citizen of this planet is not even remotely done.   As a matter of fact your responsibilities as the chef or owner of the restaurant are just starting.

Generation after generation, we have exponentially developed reckless habits that has created this cancer called “Global Warming”.  There is no reason to sugarcoat it.  This is exactly what it is, a cancer that has put all of us on the path of being eliminated.  With the ever-increasing global population, irresponsible use of natural resources, waste and pollution in all shapes and forms, a complete elimination is inevitable, unless we change our behavior globally. To put a small dent in the damage that has already been done, just driving your Prius is such a small step that will not even register on the charts. Based on the U.S. department of Energy your Prius is only 40% CO2 reduction compared to a typical gasoline car and depending on where you live, like Indiana a coal based electric grid, your Prius CO2 emissions are far greater than a gasoline car.

Let’s say you’re cutting down on your share of CO2 by 40% driving a Prius.  That is only one of Greenhouse Gases and other activities are constantly contributing to Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).   Increase of these Greenhouse Gases, are directly linked to landfills, deforestation, agriculture, fossil fuel, industrial processes, just to name a few.   Our cancerous behavior extends far beyond Greenhouse Gases and we have not even scratched the surface.   We have destructed wetlands, forests, polluted fresh water supplies, and discarded so much plastic and contaminants into our oceans that there is no hope in reversing the damage.  On your free time study more about “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

So what can you do as the Restaurant Owner and Operator? Well for starters you can tap into some resources available online, to learn about having a sustainable restaurant at the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve website.  Keep in mind, when your design team hand over the keys to your restaurant that was designed with the latest technology in sustainable design, your job starts and it will need to continue.  Sustainability is a collective effort to survive the future.   Sustainability does not mean making sacrifices; we are replacing bad habits with healthy choices that will improve the quality of our lives.   We are at the point of All Hands On Deck!

By embracing sustainable practices, not only you will be doing your part as a responsible operator, but it has been demonstrated that a sustainable design and operation procedures will pay for themselves and increase revenue by reducing overhead, energy use, waste of supplies/resources, a better work environment for employees, and an enjoyable environment for your guests.  Here are some changes you can make to your restaurant operation:

  • Provide a Sustainable Menu– Our oceans are over fished, the industrial livestock farms are a big contributor to pollution (land, air, water), support your local farms. There is so much you can do to develop a sustainable menu.  Research and explore as we are not the experts in menu design.
  • Reduce Food Waste: According to the United Nations Environment for Development Program, 1.3 Billion tons of food is wasted every year with 870 million people going hungry every day.  Not only dramatic reduction of food waste can put a dent in world hunger, it will also reduce water pollution, Greenhouse gases, and also reduce the waste of natural resources that were used to produce the food. The amount of pollution of food production is great, from the farming stage to the final stage of being plated. (Fuel, fertilizers, chemicals, methane, water pollution, pesticides, etc.)
  • Plastic bottles/ Plastic Bags: Consider elimination of plastic bottles and switching to in-house filtered water, bottled in glass containers.  Eliminate the use of plastic cups, polystyrene cups and takeout containers.  Here’s one company, FOLD-PAK  that has an alternative and provides recycled paper containers for take-out. Talk to your supplier, they should have a great selection of sustainable products.
  • Cleaning Chemicals: harsh chemicals going down the drain eventually find their way into our water supply, oceans and eco system.  Switching to biodegradable cleaning and sanitation products not only eliminates the health risks of your employees, but it also improves the indoor air quality of your restaurant while eliminating any additional contribution to pollution. Ecolab, one of the leading suppliers of foodservice industry has made a commitment and developed ecofriendly cleaning products for restaurants.

There is much more you can do, and mentioned earlier, the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve website is a great place to educate yourself towards a sustainable path.  You can do more things like, Recycling of your frying oil, having a strict recycling policy, conserving water and so much more.   The objective of this was to bring awareness as opposed to a solution manual.  It’s great that our transportation is environmentally friendly, and more design teams are paying closer attention to delivering sustainable design solutions, but none of these on their own will put a dent in the cancer we call “global warming”.  Collectively everyone will need to contribute to fighting this cancer by changing our bad habits in our personal and professional lives and replacing them with healthy choices and will improve the quality of life globally.

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