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Energy efficiency especially important for cafes and restaurants

All businesses use energy - from computer systems in offices through to manufacturing plant in factories. But it turns that commercial kitchens are among the most inefficient commercial spaces, according to a new study from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What's more, the UK's Carbon Trust found that only 40 per cent of that energy is actually used in making food. A significant portion of the wasted energy is dispersed into the kitchen in the form of heat and light, reports the Guardian..

With this in mind, it's easy to see how important it is for those in the catering industry to find energy-efficient solutions for their kitchens - as it will make a big difference to the environment, as well as the business's profit margin.

Many food industry professionals are beginning to realise the importance that energy efficiency can play in the success of their restaurants - and they are taking steps to reduce how much power they consume on a daily basis.

Cutting down on your energy use starts by increasing awareness about how much you're using and where it's going, explains Anthony Scaroni, director at Warehouse Cafe. Situated in Birmingham's Friends of the Earth building, the cafe was runner up in the OFM awards 2013 and 2014 best ethical restaurant awards.

"All of our appliances have energy meters. Energy consumption is a daily conversation at the cafe. Many people are already aware and have understanding of the basics [of energy saving]. It’s about creating a good culture," Mr Scaroni says, adding that little things like turning off the lights can make a big difference.

Of course, more substantial changes can also lead to a drastic drop in a cafe's energy use. For example, the Warehouse Cafe has had solar panels installed, they aim to operate a zero landfill policy and they compost kitchen scraps to fertilise a herb garden at the back of the building.

According to GreenRestaurants.org, heating and cooling a restaurant uses about 28 per cent of the building's power - reducing this number simply requires good thermal insulation and suitable HVAC equipment.

Mr Scaroni  says that the Warehouse Cafe has seen a "signifcant drop" in their energy bills after spending £20,000 on improving the building's thermal insulation. 

Lerryn Whitfield, owner of Lerryn’s cafe in Peckham, explains that for her, energy efficiency wasn't just about the environment or her business's bottom line - it was also a question of ethical responsibility.

"I opened the cafe as an attempt to build a space that people feel welcome in, in a community that I know and love. The cafe didn’t start up as an energy efficient project but I soon realised, among other things, that it was something I was responsible for," she says.

Mr Scaroni agrees and points out that demonstrating those strong ethics can help to bring in more customers.

“Our green restaurant awards are always in show in middle of the restaurant - a lot of people come here and ask about our ethical accolades," he says.


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