Shari’s Café & Pies, a leading West Coast family dining chain, understood the value of smart energy management early on. Their relationship with Ecova began in 2008: first with cost-saving operational improvements and evolving into more intensive measures. By 2016, the company had achieved a 9 percent reduction in energy intensity and a 30 percent reduction in water intensity. This tremendous success is due in part to Shari’s adoption of a strategic energy management (SEM) program. Their SEM deployment created a culture in which employees at every level understood how their actions impacted the company’s energy, water and waste consumption—and felt truly engaged in the company’s efforts to use these resources more efficiently.
Strategic energy management—an approach championed by Ecova moves away from siloed, measure-specific programs to drive continuous improvement of energy performance within an organization. SEM programs fundamentally shift the dynamic of sustainability initiatives, utilizing data to inform long-term strategic planning and engaging all company stakeholders in resource management work. Shari’s worked closely with Ecova to ensure their program’s success from the beginning: using our Portfolio Benchmarking Report and audit services to inform baseline development and resource allocation. They also used the SEM structure to identify and prioritize site-specific projects with the potential to improve efficiency, including equipment upgrades, energy and water conservation measures, and modifications to their recycling program.
Leading the Charge
A successful SEM program requires a strong internal champion to lead the program, advocating for its value to corporate decision-makers and driving employee engagement throughout the organization. Shari’s was fortune to find theirs in Jodenne Scott, Director of Financial Support Services. Jodenne’s passion for sustainability was infectious, energizing employees at every level of the company and empowering them to make a difference in their day-to-day work. In team with Ecova, Jodenne also led the development of the Shari’s Water Energy-Efficiency Program (SWEEP), which integrates energy, water, and waste efficiency into planning and operational activities.
Committing to the principles of strategic energy management paid off for Shari’s. During the first year of their engagement with Ecova, Shari’s reduced energy consumption by 11 percent and fostered a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the organization. The process also helped identify behavioral and equipment improvements with strong savings potential. Switching to a more efficient system for cleaning ice cream scoops, for example, reduced water usage by an average of 35 percent and natural gas usage by 15-20 percent.
Shari’s involvement with Ecova also impacts future success, informing the creation of a 2025 Strategic Plan. This plan serves as a roadmap for all Shari’s team members and sets the following targets for the company through U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge (BBC):
- 20 percent reduction in energy intensity by 2025
- 35 percent reduction in water intensity by 2022
As these ambitious goals and their successful SEM deployment demonstrate, Shari’s is truly “walking the walk” when it comes to corporate responsibility. Read our full case study to learn how the company’s shift to a holistic program driven by engaged company leadership and employees will position them at the forefront of their industry for years to come.