Restaurants Can Expect 30% Return with Energy Cuts

The National Restaurant Association launched a new campaign—the National Restaurant Association Conserve/EPA Energy Star Challenge—and is encouraging the nation's nearly 1 million restaurants, their 13 million employees, as well as their suppliers and guests to reduce energy and water use in establishments.

"There are many different ways to reduce energy and water consumption in restaurants," said Association President and Chief Executive Officer Dawn Sweeney. "We hope that our Conserve/EPA Challenge campaign will motivate those within our industry to continue their journey toward a more sustainable future. Many of the small steps recommended on our Conserve Web site will make a significant difference in preserving our planet's resources, and may add dollars to some businesses' bottom line."

Jerry Lawson, national manager of the Energy Star Small Business & Congregations Network, added "Restaurant profit margins are typically only 3–9 percent of total revenue. Controlling costs such as energy and water can make a big difference in a small business' profitability. Restaurants that follow the Conserve/EPA Energy Star Challenge and invest in energy efficiency could realize a 30 percent return on these investments over time."

By reducing their use of energy and water, restaurants save on utility costs. The association provides a free and easy check-list of energy- and water-saving tips to get Conserve/EPA Energy Star Challenge participants started. The check-list includes steps such as turning off lights and equipment when not in use, serving water upon request, and motivating employees to reinforce conservation efforts.

Another step encourages restaurant operators to benchmark their current energy and water consumption. By benchmarking, or measuring usage, operators can identify opportunities for savings, validate their efforts, and set goals for future reductions. Participants can use the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which allows users to set and measure energy- and water-reduction targets.

National Restaurant Association research shows that environmentally sustainable practices are increasingly important to today's consumers. Forty-four percent say they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on a restaurant's efforts to conserve energy and water, and six out of 10 say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers food that was grown in an organic or environmentally friendly way.