Green Business: Restaurant Tips and Ideas for Energy and Water Conservation


  • Complete regularly scheduled maintenance on your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and refrigeration systems.
  • Clean permanent filters with mild detergents every two months (change replaceable filters every 2 months).
  • Check entire system each year for coolant and air leaks, clogs, and obstructions of air intake and vents.
  • Keep condenser coils free of dust and lint.
  • Keep evaporator coils free of excessive frost.

Save energy in the following ways:
Equipment and Facility:


  • Use weather stripping and caulking to seal windows and doors.
  • Use Energy Star® electronic equipment, ensuring that Energy Star settings are enabled (manual set-up often required).
  • Use power management software programs that save energy by automatically turning off idle monitors and printers (must be purchased separate from computer).
  • Use a time switch to automatically turn off office equipment after working hours.
  • Use sensors on vending and ice machines and place machines in shaded areas.
  • Use timers on hood, exhaust systems and hood lights.
  • Insulate all hot water pipes, hot water heaters and storage tanks.
  • Use a booster heater for hot water use.
  • Use a solar water heater or preheater.
  • Replace electric hot water heaters with natural gas ones.


  • Replace refrigerators older than 10 years with new Energy Star® ones.
  • Insulate refrigeration cold suction lines.
  • Use plastic strip curtains on walk-in refrigerator/freezer doors.
  • Use open-door buzzers on walk-in refrigerators.
  • Maintain refrigerator doors by replacing worn gaskets, aligning doors, enabling automatic door closers, and replacing worn or damaged strip curtains.


  • Use a low-flow pre-rinse nozzle for dish scraping/pre-cleaning (saves both heating and water costs).
  • Use a water-conserving dishwasher to save both heating and water costs. Reduce dishwasher temperature to the lowest temperature allowed by health regulations and consistent with the type of sanitizing system you are using (a door-type dishwasher should use 1.2 gallons/rack or less).


  • Replace any older T-12 fluorescent lighting with energy-efficient T-8 or T-5 fixtures with electronic ballasts.
  • Replace any incandescent bulbs with efficient compact fluorescents or LED lighting.
  • Reduce number of fixtures.
  • Increase lighting efficiency of lamps, by installing optical reflectors or diffusers.
  • Improve exit sign efficiency by using LED exit signs, compact fluorescents in exit signs or electroluminescent exit signs.
  • Install lighting controls like occupancy sensors; or bypass/delay timers, photocells or time clocks (often used in security systems).

Heating and Cooling:

  • Apply window film to reduce solar heat gain
  • Shade sun-exposed windows and walls with awnings, sunscreens, shade trees or shrubbery.
  • Use ceiling fan for air circulation.
  • Convert electric heating system to a natural gas system.
  • Replace inefficient or broken windows with double pane energy-efficient windows.
  • Replace or supplement an A/C system with an evaporative cooler.
  • Install economizers on A/C to increase air circulation.
  • Replace single or package A/C unit with one with a greater Energy Efficient Rating (EER)
  • Install bypass timers and/or time clocks.
  • Provide shade for HVAC condenser, especially roof-top fixtures

Staff Practices:

  • Institute a formal policy to turn off equipment when possible (e.g., in unoccupied areas)
  • Plug equipment into a time switch to turn off after working hours.
  • If available, use the standby mode on equipment (e.g., energy saver buttons on copiers).
  • Turn off exhaust hoods and hood lights when appliances below are off (these must be on when appliances are on.)
  • When repainting building exterior and roofs, choose light colors to reflect more sunlight.


  • Always turn off lights when leaving.
  • Use light switch reminders to remind customers and staff to turn off lights.
  • Institute a policy that all lighting be turned off in unoccupied rooms.
  • Clean lighting fixtures, diffusers and lamps; and replace aging fluorescent tubes.
  • Use task lighting instead of lighting the entire area.
  • Rearrange workspace to take advantage of areas with natural lighting
  • Check and adjust lighting control devices (e.g., time clocks and photocells).
  • Disconnect unused ballasts in delamped fixtures AND replace burned out lamps quickly to avoid ballast damage.

Heating and Cooling:

  • Close blinds and curtains to keep room cooler.
  • Turn room-cooling units off when the weather is cooler.

Hot Water Use:

  • Drain and flush hot water tanks to the sanitary sewer every six months to prevent scale build-up and deposits (which can reduce heating efficiency).
  • Set hot water heaters to standard 125-130° F.
  • Check pilot lights for proper adjustment. (gas kitchen/hot water)

Water Conservation - Save water in the following ways:
Assign a person to monitor each water bill for early indicators of problems. Call your local water provided if you notice unusual increases in use or for suggestions on how to use water more efficiently.

  • Regularly check for and repair all leaks in your facility. Leaks in toilet tanks can be detected with leak detecting tablets, which may be available from City of Edmonds Public Works.
  • Install low-flow aerators: -As low as 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and no greater than
    -2.5 gpm for lavatory sinks
    -2.0 gpm or less for kitchen sinks
  • Use signs in restrooms to encourage water conservation and to report leaks.
  • If you have landscaping/irrigation:
    • Install matched precipitation rate sprinkler heads in turf areas.
    • Test irrigation sprinklers 4 times per year to ensure proper operation and coverage and repair all broken or defective sprinkler heads/nozzles, lines and valves.
    • Adjust sprinklers for proper coverage-optimize spacing, avoid runoff onto paved surfaces.
    • Water during early morning, pre-dawn hours to reduce water loss from evaporation.
    • Use repeat cycles when watering turf or shrubs to encourage percolation and deep root growth.
    • Adjust the irrigation schedule monthly during irrigation season, or as needed.
  • Operate dishwashers only when full.
  • Hand-scrape dishes before loading into dishwasher.
  • Soak dirty pots and pans instead of cleaning with running water.
  • Use foot triggers.
  • Do not use running water to melt ice in bar sinks.
  • Turn off food preparation faucets not in use.
  • Serve guests drinking water only upon request.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator rather than under running water.
  • Shut off water-cooled air conditioning units when not needed.
  • Consider areas of greatest water use (facility or landscaping) in choosing new measures. Be sure to explore rebates.


  • Install toilets using 1.6 gpf (gallon per flush) or less.
    Go beyond the above 1.6 gpf toilets to 1.3 gpf HETs (High Efficiency Toilets)! Check both this measure and the above one. Ask your water district for rebates when replacing 3.5 gpf or higher toilets with the HETs.
  • Provide additional urinals in men's restroom and reduce number of toilets (urinals use less water than toilets).
  • Replace flush mechanism in urinals with ones that flush at 1.0 gallon or less (as low as 0.125 gallon per flush) or install new waterless varieties.
  • Install self-closing faucets (0.5 gpm and 0.25 gallon/cycle).
  • Set up an annual program to educate staff about the benefits of efficient water use.
  • Indoors, use dry floor cleaning methods, followed by damp mopping, rather than spraying or hosing with water.
  • Change window cleaning schedule from "periodic" to "as required."
  • Reduce water pressure to no higher than 50 psi by installing pressure reducing valves.
  • Adjust boiler and cooling tower blowdown rate to maintain TDS (total dissolved solids) at levels recommended by manufactures' specifications.
  • Replace water-cooled equipment, such as air conditioning units, with air-cooled.


  • Retrofit once-through water-cooled refrigeration units, air conditioners, and ice machines by using temperature controls and a recirculating chilled water loop system.
  • Use 1.6 gpm or less pre-rinse spray valves to rinse dishes.
  • Use water conserving batch dishwasher systems.
  • In conveyor type washer, ensure water flow stops when no dishes are in the washer. Install a sensing arm or ware gate to detect the presence of dishes.
  • Minimize or eliminate use of garbage disposal by using a strainer or trap device to collect food waste.
  • Evaluate the wash formula and machine cycles for efficiency. It may be appropriate to reprogram machines to eliminate a cycle.
  • Use a fan-jet sprayer before loading dishes into dishwasher.


  • Mulch all non-turf areas.
  • Plant drought tolerant plants.
  • Hydrozone: Group plants with similar water requirements together on the same irrigation line, separating plants with different water requirements on separate irrigation lines.
  • Reduce area of turf.
  • If installing new turf, limit area and use drought tolerant species, space sprinkler heads such that the water from one sprinkler head reaches the adjacent sprinkler heads.
  • Modify your existing irrigation system to include drip irrigation.
  • Install rain shut-off devices that turn off the irrigation system during rain.
  • Install irrigation controllers that have at a minimum the following features:
    • precise 1-minute runtime capability;
    • a minimum of 3 separate programs;
    • and 3 cycle start time features.
  • Reduce irrigation system water pressure to no higher than 50 psi ( pressure-reducing valves must be installed to do this).
  • Use reclaimed water for irrigation and other approved uses.

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