Plans drawn up for new energy certification

EPA and industry associations are calling for the foodservice community’s help in developing an Energy Star certification for restaurants

It’s no secret commercial kitchens are huge energy drainers, and with utility bills on the rise, foodservice operators face a growing challenge to save costs and profits. In recognition of this need to boost bottom lines, sustainability and branding, the U S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  has partnered up with the National Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Facility Management Association to develop a new Energy Star certification, not for another piece of equipment, but for an entire restaurant.

“If all goes well, restaurants will become one of the classes of buildings that can get certified by the  Energy Star programme to be in the top 25% of energy efficiency,” says Richard Shandross, associate director at Boston-based Navigant Consulting and head of the foodservice project team with the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance, which, in addition to the PG&E Food Service Technology Center in San Ramon, Calif., has been working with the EPA on the certification programme. Specifically, the group developed and launched a survey to gather important feedback from the foodservice community about the idea of an  Energy Star certification.  This certification would apply to any foodservice establishment that has been in business for at least a year in the same location and can provide energy data for a period of at least 11 months.

The EPA opened up the survey last fall to restaurant owners, chains, food companies and others industry members on the BBA and EPA websites. Since then, the closing deadline has been extended to March. Visit to enter your comments before it’s too late.  All data collected by RFMA will be made anonymous before being submitted to EPA.

“Without data from a cross-section of the food service sector, the EPA cannot determine the national average energy usage for the industry, and so it would not be able to develop a performance scoring method for restaurants or other foodservice facilities,” says Shandross.

Once the comments are in, the EPA will analyze the results and use that feedback to develop rating criteria for the potential certification program.  An  Energy Star restaurant certification programme could them take shape in as early as a year from now, Shandross says.

Amelia Levin

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