Proof That Saving the Planet Saves You Money

Corporate press releases are increasingly reporting how organizations are springing up greener, leaving a smaller carbon footprint or acting more sustainable. it seems the “green” initiative for many companies is equal part public relations, equal part earth friendliness.

Good press aside, the pencil to the paper is proving it’s O.K. to get greedy with your own green initiative.

True, even restaurant industry consumers demand more eco-friendly production processes; diners want greener take-out packaging and more eco- friendly restaurant operations.

And why not? Throughout the united States, a restaurant generates an average of 50,000 pounds of waste and uses 300,000 gallons of water annually according to the green restaurant Association, a nonprofit environmental consulting group for the restaurant industry that certifies restaurants as “green.”

Spokesperson for the GRA, Colleen Oteri, says before they begin a consulting relationship with restaurants, they assess whether the restaurant wants to save money or save the planet because either way, green changes have direct links to beefing up your bottom line.

“Some clients are driven by the customer, some just want to do what’s right and others know they are losing money by not maintaining appliances or equipment or using the wrong kinds of products,” Oteri says.

Facts and figures don’t lie. Oteri says maintenance or simple changes can have a big impact. For instance, a leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.

The GRA was speaking an earth-friendly language far before it was hip. in 1990, founder, Michael Oshman, sprouted the association in San Diego at a time when the environmental movement was on a slow motion ride to becoming a buzz word. Today, however, that early start 20 years ago gives the GRA well-established experience as an advocate for restaurants. To date GRA has helped over 650 clients nationwide become green certified.

After earning their certification, the Fireplace restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts made several changes from reducing their use of paper products to gas, electric and water-saving strategies that yielded a 45 percent return on their investment and cut $1,200 off their annual operating costs.

Whether or not you seek certification, Oteri offers some good fiscal advice on greener tips to cash in on.

  • lighting accounts for 13 percent of the total cost of running a restaurant. Installing energy efficient lights can save $1,800 per year.
  • Cash in on new equipment. The GrA doesn’t recommend pitching old equipment for new, but as you replace items be sure they are Energy Star certified. look for rebates on energy efficient equipment, too, for added savings.
  • A standard toilet uses as much as 4.5 gallons per flush. low-flush toilets use around 1.6 gallons per flush. Consider converting to waterless urinals which save big on water consumption.
  • Installing low-flow spray valves (which cost about $30) are 75 percent more efficient than the average flow valve, yielding a $1,000 saving annually or saving approximately 50,000 gallons of water per year.
  • launching recycling efforts at your restaurant can cut trash hauling bills in half.
  • when not in use, unplugging computers, electronics, coffee machines, POS system and any small appliances can save money.

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