By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo) Restaurants face many challenges when they try to implement eco-friendly initiatives. From massive walk-in refrigerators to churning out hundreds of meals, it’s probably not surprising that restaurants typically use more energy than other types of commercial buildings.
Plus, food waste efforts typically happen at the household level and the pandemic-induced takeout surge led to a glut of single-use plastics and landfill-bound Styrofoam. (To combat this, Denver has a new ordinance that prevents single-use utensils from automatically being placed in takeout orders and there’s a forthcoming statewide ban on Styrofoam).
But several Denver area restaurants want to take things a step further and shake things up in the food and beverage industry by pioneering new practices and technologies to reduce their carbon footprints.
This trend ranges from Snooze donating one tree in honor of each of its employees to Mercury Cafe, allowing vines to grow over windows and walls to help cool the building and absorb CO2. Somebody People uses wash-and-reuse glass containers for its takeout operations and Woodie Fisher has EV charging stations so diners can recharge while noshing on homemade pizzas.
One of the most interesting initiatives to come about recently is the solar panel systems at ChefReady, a virtual kitchen space that opened in Denver in 2020. The food delivery industry is expected to grow from $43 billion in 2017 to $467 billion by 2025. Virtual kitchens allow delivery-only eateries to have a plug-and-play space for chefs to prepare food without a customer-facing storefront.
When ChefReady entered the Denver market, Nili Malach Poynter, co-founder and president, said she wanted to make the space as green as possible. So, in addition to composting and recycling programs and outfitting the space with LED lights and having an oil recycling system, ChefReady partnered with Buglet Solar to create a custom steel solar panel canopy. The custom design (which provides shaded parking) collects energy on the top and bottom of its angled panels.
“It’s something we’re really proud of,” Poynter said. “There’s a lot of residential solar panels, but there’s not as many commercial buildings doing this.”
The average home solar panel system is a 7kW solar kit, while ChefReady’s is a 30kW system. The solar panel results in electricity savings of up to 25 percent for their tenants.
Several other restaurants throughout the city are wind-powered, including the eateries in the Edible Beats portfolio (Linger, Ophelia’s, Vital Root, El Five and Root Down), plus maintains a beehive to source its restaurants with fresh, raw honey and help bees thrive. Now that’s buzz-worthy.