Restaurant Sustainability: A Guide for Designers and Restaurant Managers

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Restaurant dining is on the rise. Americans spent more money in restaurants in 2015 than on groceries, and well over half say they eat out at least once a week. Restaurants offer convenience, entertainment and a place to relax and get away from it all.

There’s a dark side to the restaurant industry, however. It traditionally has been one of the most wasteful sectors when it comes to wise use of resources. Consider these facts:

  • For every restaurant meal served, an estimated half-pound of food is wasted.
  • Nearly 80 percent of energy used in commercial food service is lost to inefficiencies.
  • Americans throw out enough packaging from takeout meals each year to circle the planet three times over.
  • Restaurants use an average of 5,800 gallons of water per day — more than 1,500 of which easily could be saved through simple water conservation measures.

Fortunately, more and more restaurant owners and industry designers are becoming aware of these issues and taking steps to mitigate them. Restaurant planning increasingly makes use of innovative solutions — such as building information modeling — that reduce waste and contribute to more sustainable restaurant design and operations. These solutions ultimately help preserve the environment, saving significant amounts of money for the restaurants involved along the way.

Restaurant sustainability is a complex issue. The accompanying guide is designed to be a simple introduction to some of the most important concepts in sustainable restaurant planning, to help designers and restaurant managers more easily achieve their sustainability goals.