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Starbucks Moves Ahead with ‘Green’ Strategy despite Cost

As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) releases an energy-savings guide to help quick-service restaurants reduce their energy use by 50 percent, Starbucks continues to move ahead with plans to make the restaurant chain’s stores environmentally friendly.

Starbucks is part of a growing trend by retailers to reduce their impact on the environment despite the initial cost premium for their efforts, reports The Washington Post.

About 1,300 retail locations have enrolled in the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program through September, compared with 900 for all of last year, and represent about eight percent of all 6,000 buildings that are LEED certified, according to The Washington Post.

Starbucks strategy calls for 50 percent of its energy to come from renewable sources and to achieve LEED certification for all of its “ground-up” sites worldwide. The company is one of several working with USGBC on a new certification program that offers operators the option of pursuing the designation for multiple properties at once, reports The Washington Post.

Starbucks will build or renovate 10 test stores around the world as part of the test program.

Starbucks would not reveal to the newspaper how much the green retrofits cost other than noting “it has been pricey.” However, the restaurant chain expects to achieve a full return on investment for these projects in a few years.

To help restaurants reduce their energy consumption, the DOE and its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have released a technical report that provides recommendations on how to achieve up to 50 percent energy savings in quick-service restaurants.

The guide, “Technical Support Document: 50% Energy Savings for Quick-Service Restaurants” (PDF), provides a number of energy-efficiency measures that cut energy use in quick-service restaurants by up to 50 percent compared to a baseline standard in less than five years. The 50 percent goal covers the reduction of site energy use in all eight U.S. climate zones.

 PNNL used EnergyPlus, an energy simulation program, to determine the energy savings provided by the energy-efficiency measures. The prototype 2,500-sq.-ft. building model was analyzed across all U.S. climate zones, which were divided into 16 representative climate cities.

The report also provides an estimate of the incremental first costs and simple payback years.

Some of the energy-efficiency measures include the following:

–Ultra-efficient cooking appliances that reduced kitchen exhaust air flow

–An optimized HVAC system configuration to better utilize a dedicated outdoor air system and runaround coil loop heat recovery

–Efficient exterior and interior lighting with dimming controls in the dining room

–Enhanced insulation, cool roofs, and high-performance window glazing

The DOE says the 50 percent savings report will provide the foundation for the next series of Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDGs), which are “how-to” guides that show architects, engineers, and building designers how to achieve above-code energy performance for buildings using existing technologies available today.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) works in collaboration with DOE, the American Institute of Architects, the Illuminating Engineering Society, and the U.S. Green Building Council to develop and publish the free design guides.

The DOE has published guides in several categories for commercial buildings. For example, in September, DOE and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released two technical reports that provide recommendations on how to achieve 50 percent energy savings in new and existing large office buildings and large hospitals.

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2 thoughts on “Starbucks Moves Ahead with ‘Green’ Strategy despite Cost

  1. Starbucks’ commitment to sustainability is commendable and they should enter the global Green Awards 2010 to set a global benchmark for all retailers to follow!

  2. With utility/energy costs likely to continue an upward climb at a rate that greatly exceeds overall inflation Starbucks is wise to invest the CAPEX upfront to improve their energy efficiency to save significantly on future OPEX.

    They, like numerous other retail establishments, need to learn how to use the “Off” switch. There is no reason to have the lights on when it is bright daylight outside. Similarly the wireless network, server, etc. can all be turned off at night when the store is closed.

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