Going Green with LEED
More and more restaurants are going green, and making sure your establishment is up to LEED standard is essential to saving energy and reducing your footprint. The LEED acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it’s defined by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) as a set of standards that allow builders and property owners to construct new buildings that are as green as possible. If you’re constructing your restaurant and are looking to ensure that it’s environmentally-friendly, take a closer look at the LEED standards.
LEED-certified establishments must register with the USGBC prior to construction, making certification of a pre-existing restaurant impossible. The LEED certification standards deal with construction, and a rating system is established where said restaurant can accrue points towards certification. Here are some things to keep in mind to accrue the most points and get your new building LEED certified:
Location: True enough, the location of your restaurant can actually earn you more points depending on how easy it is for your workers to get to and from work. If your location is near a bus line, you’ll earn more points, as your employees are more likely to use public transportation. Same goes for installing bike racks and changing rooms so workers can use alternative transportation methods.
Green Energy: Think: Solar panels. Energy-efficient equipment is a must-have in this setup, but finding alternative energy sources as opposed to the typical can earn you additional points.
Waste: Organic methods of waste disposal can get you closer to LEED certification, so consider how you’ll be disposing of waste products. Also, consider the items you’ll be offering, as this will play a role in what goes to the dump (ditch the styrofoam containers, folks!).
While these restrictions may seem difficult, there are well-known chains who are pulling it off! Subway, Arby’s, and McDonald’s make the cut - so what’s keeping restaurants from doing it? If you aren’t sold, here are a few benefits to operating a LEED certified establishment:
Marketing: Going LEED can be a great marketing tool for any owner. Environmentally-conscious customers are a huge chunk of your market, so cater to the hearts and minds of those who consider the environment before their meal.
Finances: The theory goes that the less energy you use translates to less money spent. While we’re still seeing if the theory holds water, it may pay to take the chance.
Mandatory Future: It makes sense that this certification may one day be mandatory, so jump the gun and be LEED certified! It’ll give you an advantage over your competitors if requirements do change.
LEED certification is good for both the restaurant and the consumer. If you plan to build a new restaurant, consider these standards, and make the proactive decision to go green with LEED!