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The Green Kitchen: Why and How

The Green Kitchen: Why and How

(photo by Creative Commons user terriem)

John Lawn | Food Mangement

Making a kitchen more sustainable can be like bringing a wild beast under control.

Look at an onsite kitchen and what do you see?

A 30-year old, central production facility that’s showing its age? A major investment that has to compete with other departments and organizational goals for capital?

Day-to-day managers may observe that the kitchen is an increasingly decentralized operation, with prep and cooking areas gradually moving out to servery space or satellite stations. And a chef may see the kitchen as the “heart of the house,” a creative studio where meals are conceived and where staff transforms the most humble of ingredients into an immense range of offerings.

Increasingly, operators, consultants and administrators are also seeing onsite kitchens as voracious beasts, with pounding, energy-driven hearts, lungs gasping makeup and refrigerated air and with space that consumes more than five times the energy per square foot as any other part of a building.

Kitchens are also thirsty, often consuming thousands of gallons of water a day, much of it heated and also much of it wasted.

Finally, kitchens are the repository for huge volumes of pre- and post-consumer waste, everything from carrot peelings to plate scraps, excess food production, steel cans, packaging corrugate and landfill-clogging disposables.

At a time when it is becoming an individual, corporate and institutional imperative to address such sustainability issues, it is also becoming clear that traditional kitchen designs and equipment need to evolve, and do so quickly. The financial savings from lowered utility bills and reduced hauling and tipping fees can justify many needed investments. And the social and environmental cost savings provide an additional impetus for organizations that want to be part of the sustainability solution, not a contributor to the sustainability problem.

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