Efficiency Trends to Improve Sustainability

By: Ben Liegey

The world of pubs and bars is following sustainability trends. The good news? It drives revenues and helps control costs. Governments and destination management organizations across the province are preparing their regenerative tourism strategies. Is your business leveraging eco-efficiency actions to go green and be more profitable?

Trend #1: Energy Efficiency

A typical pub, bar, or restaurant should be able to save between 30-70% of its energy costs depending upon the extent of energy-saving measures already implemented. Here are five tips to improve energy efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Track Monthly Energy Costs
You can only manage what you measure. To control your energy bill, you must track energy KPIs consistently. This includes your energy consumption (in kWh or similar units) and your energy costs. With this record, you can conduct your own energy audit by looking at your previous energy bills or by using an online energy tracking tool. Then, you can set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-oriented) goals, identify areas of energy waste, and prioritize upgrades and improvements.

2. Consider LED Lighting
Around 20% of electricity used in pubs and bars is linked to lighting. Choosing LED lights is an easy way to save on energy costs. Day white 6000K LED lighting can be quite harsh for indoors and best for toilets or circulation areas. For a cozy atmosphere, use 4000K natural white or 3000K warm white, which gives a similar glow to halogen lighting for your venue.

3. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Food preparation and storage accounts for around half of energy usage in restaurants, so it is vital to ensure you are using your equipment efficiently. Where you can, choose a commercial refrigerator that carries an efficient energy grade and make sure that you keep its doors closed when possible. Additionally, make sure you regularly defrost, maintain, and clean your refrigerator as well as check its seals to ensure the doors are closed properly.

4. Use Programmable Thermostats
Once your business begins filling up with guests, you are likely to use less heat to maintain a comfortable temperature in your venue. A way to control this is to make sure you have a thermostat control behind the bar and that all staff know how to monitor it and use it. Using programmable thermostats will adjust the temperature according to the time of day and occupancy levels, to save energy when the pub is closed or not as busy.

5. Conduct Regular Maintenance of Equipment
Equipment, such as HVAC systems, refrigerators, and cooking equipment, need to be maintained consistently to ensure optimal energy efficiency.

“Food waste accounts for 8 to 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions.”

Trend #2: F&B Efficiency

Are you planning to have another menu price increase this year? If so, the following five tips can help you reduce waste, costs, and your carbon footprint. It is estimated that food waste accounts for 8 to 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions, 4 times the carbon footprint of the aviation industry! When food is wasted, resources are also wasted throughout the food supply chain. According to the BCIT ecoCity Footprint Tool, 51% of Vancouver’s Ecological Footprint is due to food, which is more than transportation and buildings.

1. Track Monthly F&B Costs
You can only manage what you measure. To control your F&B bill, you must track KPIs (Key Performance Indexes) consistently. This includes your food and beverage costs. You should track food and beverage percentages separately. Additionally, compare costs: how do your energy costs compare to your food and beverage costs? Where are your biggest saving opportunities?

2. Track Beverage Loss
One might expect beverages not to experience any yield loss. However, long-term storage of alcohol results in a small amount of evaporation loss, and the process of pouring drinks often results in some spillage, even by the most experienced bartenders. It can be a good idea to quantify this, especially for beer: when poured from a tap, it generally experiences a much greater yield loss.

“Take portion control completely out of the hands of the bartender.”

3. Use an Automated Dispensing System and Integrated Beverage Control System
To get the best results in beverage cost control, it is a good idea to take portion control completely out of the hands of the bartender. An automated dispensing system operates by connecting a series of tubes to a range of liquid ingredients. When a bartender pushes a button to request a specific drink, the automated system dispenses the right amount of each liquid into a glass per the preprogrammed recipe for that drink. A bartender cannot get the machine to pour a drink until the drink has been ordered through the POS system and charged to a check.

4. Consider Tracking Food Waste
Do you have more kitchen waste or more plate waste? This is the very first piece of information you need to identify to take action to reduce food costs. This can be easily determined by tracking kitchen waste separately from food left on guests’ plates (measured once per shift). It is the best practice in the industry to track food efficiency in grams of food waste per guest.

5. Offer Different Portion Sizes
Providing different portion sizes is a way to help your guests reduce plate waste while getting different food experiences. Have you ever wanted to try several mains on a menu? How would your guests react if they could select their salad or protein size? You can increase guest experience and guest satisfaction by implementing these changes.

The hospitality industry should be seen as a good force on a journey to achieve a triple bottom line and maximize the return on investment of their sustainability actions. Isn’t that something we can all support?

Ben Liegey is the Founder at, a Vancouver-based benefit company helping Green Key hotels in BC control food costs.