FOODSERVICE MONTHLY: RAMW-EF and NRA Provide ‘Green Kitchen’ Audits to Local Schools by Josh Gibson

Fsm 09-09 hi-res Josh Gibson is executive director of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington Education Foundation. Comments or questions can be sent to His article on Green Kitchen Audits appears in the September Foodservice Monthly and is presented here as part of an ongoing series of features from the current issue.

foto: The use of the stocked rolling cart at Roosevelt High School limits the number of energy wasting trips into walk-ins.

RAMW-EF and NRA Provide 'Green Kitchen' Audits to Local Schools

The staff in DC’s public schools’ culinary teaching kitchens
are used to being on the providing end of education. But, over the past two
months, the tables have been turned and the teachers have becomeJg headshot 09 the students.
The subject matter? How to design and run a “green” kitchen.

Through a partnership of the National Restaurant Association
and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington Education Foundation
(RAMW-EF), the teaching kitchens at two DC schools, Roosevelt Senior High
School and Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, underwent an
informal “green” kitchen audit. RAMW-EF coordinated the logistics for the
exercise, and the National Restaurant Association conducted the audits.

Wearing the “green eyeshade” for the visits was Chris Moyer,
manager of the NRA’s Conserve: Solutions for Sustainability. Through Conserve,
Moyer has visited more than 100 restaurants in nearly a dozenGREEN 01 0509  states that are
embracing the environmental movement.

“Making your operations more sustainable is fundamental in
order to be more profitable,” says Moyer. 
“It started for me with a dripping faucet. Once I saw the financial
benefit to doing the right thing – not to mention the amount of energy and
water savings on my P & L report – I was hooked.”

During his kitchen visits, Moyer could have been mistaken
for a Health Department inspector. He turned the sinks on and off, flipped each
light switch, peeked in each refrigerator and oven, and even sought out the
janitorial supply closets.

The kitchens at both Roosevelt and Carlos Rosario, both
built in the past couple of years, passed their audits with flying colors.
Nonetheless, Moyer had some suggested changes for each kitchen that would be
easy, inexpensive, and impactful to implement. 

These included:

  • Install
    aerators on all hand washing, restroom and utility faucets (by reducing
    water flow slightly, an aerator can save thousands of gallons of water a
  • Fix
    all dripping faucets
  • Place
    motion/occupancy sensors on all lights in low-traffic areas. Lights will
    automatically switch themselves off when the kitchen, a storage closet, or
    the restroom is empty.
  • Have
    kitchen lights on multiple switches (if possible). It makes no sense to
    light the front of house in the morning if you don’t open until the
  • Make
    sure all gaskets for refrigerators and freezers are clean and in good
    repair. Keep the cold air inside and the warm air stays outside. Clean
    refrigeration coils routinely.
  • Install
    curtains in walk-in refrigerators. Moyer recommends swing curtains over
    dangling strip curtains for cleaning and sanitation purposes.
  • Invest
    in rolling cart to be used the walk-in cooler. Reduce trips and times you
    need to open walk-in doors by taking out everything you will need at one
    time (or less times rather than making multiple visits, reopening the door
    each time)
  • Unplug
    appliances when not in use or put on power strips that can be switched off
    easily. (especially receipt printers, chargers, coffee machines and
    non-programmable microwaves)
  • Install
    side panels on cooking hoods so they ventilate just the cooking area, and
    not the entire kitchen

Moving forward, RAMW-EF will work closely with the NRA’s
Conserve program, so that any future teaching kitchens that the Foundation has
a part in designing incorporates green principles from the start. Moyer points
out that kitchen staff who have worked in a “greener” kitchen become
evangelists for the cause, with future employers “picking their brains” for
advice on how to implement money (and environmental) saving measures in their
own kitchens.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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