How to design an energy-efficient coffee shop
Yker Valerio speaks with Professor Chahan Yeretzian of the ZHAW Coffee Excellence Center about the importance of reducing energy consumption in modern-day coffee shops.
Even before the recent rise in oil and gas prices, energy efficiency was a priority for many businesses around the world. And in few industries is it more pressing than in hospitality.
According to Energy Star, “restaurants use about five to seven times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings“. As relatively high-consumption businesses, restaurants and cafés direct much of their energy use into refrigeration, lightning, and air-conditioning.
The global reach of coffee shop businesses adds to the relevance of their energy efficiency goals, not only also from an environmental point of view, but from an economic perspective.
Chahan Yeretzian is head of the Coffee Excellence Center at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). He explains that energy efficiency has a strong association with environmental, ethical, economic, and political implications.
“The ethical aspect of energy efficiency is paramount because energy consumption creates huge dependencies and environmental impacts,” he says. “European countries are very energy dependent, so energy consumption is a political statement.”
He adds that energy efficiency is also a selling point, as it can be high on the list of customer expectations.
Regarding the economic impact of energy efficiency, recent research backs its importance. According to the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy Efficiency report, around 80% of additional energy efficiency gains over the next decade will result in savings for consumers.
Additionally, research by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute suggests that energy efficiency measures work faster and cost less than implementing renewable energies. In this regard, coffee shops of all sizes can benefit from improving their energy efficiency while contributing to the spreading of ethical business practices.
How to measure energy efficiency
Deciding where to start streamlining your energy consumption can be challenging. For that reason, learning to measure energy efficiency first is crucial.
A widely used approach is to perform an energy audit, which involves studying how a business uses energy and making recommendations for improvements. According to a recent study by the European Investment Bank, an energy audit is a valuable tool and is particularly effective for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Chahan claims that hiring an expert to perform an energy audit is essential, but a good start could be checking the energy consumption of existing equipment like coffee machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
“Nowadays, coffee machines and many other appliances have energy efficiency labels,” he explains. “These will help coffee shop owners buy more efficient appliances, enhancing the overall energy efficiency.”
However, detailed energy audits can sometimes be too challenging for business owners without extensive training and adequate equipment.
As such, following more accessible recommendations from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s DIY energy assessment guide can be quite helpful for business owners who don’t have the budget to hire an expert.
Finding improvement areas for energy efficiency can start with the following steps:
- Locate and seal air leaks and consider proper ventilation.
- Check insulation levels at your premises. This is critical for old buildings, as insulation standards are always improving.
- Inspect heating and cooling equipment and consider more efficient alternatives.
- Evaluate your lightning and whether it’s all necessary.
- Determine the most critical areas for improvement, considering the findings, costs, and ease of implementation involved.
Improving energy efficiency
Replacing old appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, dishwashers, batch coffee brewers, and espresso machines can help considerably improve a business’ energy efficiency.
However, Chahan recommends avoiding buying high-performance appliances unnecessarily.
“It’s common to see coffee shops with espresso machines equipped with four brewing units, when they rarely use more than two,” he says
For this reason, it’s crucial to buy energy-efficient coffee machines, such as those with dimmable and programmed lighting systems, that suit individual business needs.
Furthermore, the way your coffee business is structured can also cut energy use. “Roasting on-site can be surprisingly efficient compared with centralised roasting, and accounting for transport energy consumption,” Chahan says.
Installing solar panels and reducing waste can boost energy efficiency, too. Solar panels can help coffee shops reduce their energy bills by generating renewable energy, while reducing waste or using sustainable packaging helps coffee shops save money and decreases the amount of waste in landfills.
This doesn’t just help the coffee business – it also eases the strain on the services that process waste, resulting in lower energy consumption.
LED lighting is another area where coffee shops can make a big difference. They use much less energy than traditional light bulbs and last far longer.
However, focusing on the coffee shop itself isn’t necessarily enough. These days, businesses can easily influence the behaviour of both partners and customers. That means that they have the potential to improve the energy efficiency of the entire value chain.
It’s no exaggeration that coffee shops have more ways than ever to improve their energy efficiency than ever before.
So, start with an energy audit and adopt recommendations accordingly, and encourage business partners and customers to take steps toward a more energy-efficient coffee value chain. At the end of the day, it benefits all involved.