Haven't had much occasion to write about Microsoft in this blog as extensively as some of the other big hardware-oriented tech players, but this item was pretty intriguing, because it's a great lead-in to some other cool information I briefed on about a month back.
Here's the skinny: Microsoft's food service operations on its Redmond, Wash., campus are being held up as being the first in the United States to meet the Certified Green Restaurant standards. It's doing all the things you might expect, like recycling products, using sustainable sourcing, switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and so forth. I just learned that there's a whole other twist to green kitchens: there is an astonishing amount of technology found in your freezer, fridge or restaurant-scale stove. But there have been astonishingly few standards put in place about what constitutes a "green" edition of these things.
An organization from Greenwood Village, Colo., FoodServiceWarehouse.com, is aiming to change that with its Going Green Program. The effort includes educational resources for helping commercial food service staffs adopt green practices, especially water conservation and energy usage reduction, and it also includes a certification component (the Certified Green Commercial Kitchen Program) that restaurants and food service operations will be able to use to highlight their efforts. "Commercial kitchens are behind the times, especially when it comes to technology," says Steve Kurtz, vice president of the company.
As an example, Kurtz notes that commercial kitchens on average are the highest energy consumers in the United States -- using about 250,000 BTUs per square foot, which is twice the per-square-foot usage rate of other types of commercial buildings. The annual bill for the commercial food sector is about $10 billion. Both of those figures, by the way, are from Energy Star, which has a commercial food service focus with one of its programs.
Kurtz says roughly 80 percent of that energy is wasted because of inefficient appliances or because of the way that kitchens are typically designed. For example, placing a freezer near a hot oven might make a whole lot of sense from a food preparation standpoint but not as much sense when you start talking about air-conditioning and ventilation.
FoodServiceWarehouse.com's program looks at five different areas and makes recommendations about how commercial kitchens can move toward better policies AND start understanding how to use equipment more efficiently. (For example, when certain devices are turned off or on during a typical day in the kitchen.) The five areas that the company really hones in on are energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction, green cleaning and education for all of the above. Believe it or not, there aren't a whole lot of information resources in this area yet aside from Energy Star. The U.S. Green Building Council hasn't added a commercial kitchen focus to their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system yet.
Two customers that are embracing FoodServiceWarehouse.com's green initiative include The Cereal Bowl and the Charlotte Shout Festival. So you get the idea of the types of organizations that are embracing this, although the company also had an inquiry from a prison during the early days of the program.
To build awareness for its program, FoodServiceWarehouse.com plans to give away $40,000 in green kitchen tech.