Case Study: Shari’s Restaurant

Creating a Culture of Sustainability

Shari’s fosters a culture of sustainability awareness and continuous improvement. Their approach to strategic energy management demonstrates their commitment to the communities they serve, positioning them to achieve a 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2025.

DRIVING LONG TERM SAVINGS

Shari’s Café & Pies path to an industry leading strategic energy management (SEM) program began in 2008, with cost-saving operational improvements, and grown through partnership with Ecova into a holistic strategy with aggressive 2025 reduction targets. The successful implementation of the SEM program has resulted in:

  • 9% reduction in energy intensity (2016)
  • 30% reduction in water intensity (2016)

EMBARKING ON AN SEM JOURNEY

In 2008 Shari’s Café & Pies kicked off a bold initiative to evaluate operational costs and identify potential areas for improvement and savings. After identifying utility charges as the third largest controllable expense (behind food and labor), Shari’s made conserving energy and water a top priority—culminating in their deployment of an industry-leading strategic energy management (SEM) approach.

Jodenne Scott, Director of Financial Support Services has driven integration of SEM principles at each level of the organization to achieve company-wide engagement. Under Scott’s leadership, Shari’s partnered with Ecova to develop a comprehensive plan, culminating in the formation of the Shari’s Water Energy-Efficiency Program (SWEEP). SWEEP reaffirms the company’s mission to be a positive force in the communities they serve by integrating energy, water, waste, and food efficiency into all aspects of business planning and operations.

Shari’s holistic SEM program is designed to continuously improve energy performance and sustain long-term energy and cost savings through organizational, behavioral and operational change. The deployment and management of Shari’s SEM relies on Ecova’s Portfolio Benchmarking Report and regular audits to provide accurate and actionable data needed for developing baselines, allocating resources effectively, identifying opportunities, and tracking progress. During the first year of their engagement with Ecova, Shari’s reduced energy consumption by 11% and fostered a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the organization.

PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS TO ACHIEVE GOALS

Building on these early successes, Shari’s partnership with Ecova helped inform the creation of a 2025 Strategic Plan. Shari’s strategic plan establishes realistic goals for sustainability efforts as well as the actions required to achieve these goals. The resulting strategic plan provides a clear roadmap for Shari’s stakeholders to follow, integrating good corporate citizenship into all areas of the organization.

Shari’s 2025 strategic plan includes targets set through U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge (BBC), which include the following compared to a 2012 baseline:

  • 20% reduction in energy intensity by 2025
  • 35% reduction in water intensity by 2022

Shari’s ability to achieve their BBC goals requires a culture in which staff at each restaurant are aware and accountable for actions influencing energy, water and waste management. Every other month, Shari’s sends out an internal newsletter sharing the company’s progress towards energy/water reduction goals and helpful tips or best practices. Having transparency into site-specific environmental responsibility efforts helps generate excitement about the work each restaurant is doing and supports the persistence of behavioral and operational changes needed to reach these targets.

THIS SHIFT REDUCED WATER USAGE BY AN AVERAGE OF 35%
AND REDUCED NATURAL GAS BY 15-20%

With all levels of staff supporting energy and water management efforts, Shari’s completed several key projects as a component of their SEM strategic plan, including:

  • Equipment Upgrades. Scott, who oversees the company’s energy budget, was in a unique position to inspire adoption of more efficient equipment company-wide—from faucet aerators to packaged HVAC rooftop units. Scott made sustainability a priority in her work, maximizing SWEEP’s efficiency budget by investing in retrofits that would drive long-term savings. Scott said, “Collaborating with our facilities staff and head chef we established equipment specifications and standards to move the needle on procurement of efficient and more sustainable equipment.”
  • Energy and Water Conservation Measures. Shari’s saw significant results from redesigning their systems to include new energy-efficient technologies. After Ecova’s equipment audit found that dipper wells used to clean ice cream scoops were wasting 8 million gallons of water each year, the company switched to a new system that adds water in regular increments, rather than flowing perpetually. This shift reduced water usage by an average of 35% and reduced natural gas by 15-20%. Similarly, changing the design of broilers so that efficiency is built into the settings rather than relying on employee compliance led to savings of 30% on natural gas usage. Shari’s now leases ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwasher systems to further reduce water and natural gas usage.
  • Recycling. To better understand their sites’ waste disposal processes, Shari’s performed a right sizing audit, which assesses container size, contents and pick-up schedules. The audit identified consistent recycling services for plastics, cardboard, metal, glass, bottles and cans, with composting efforts at eight sites. Plastic pie clamshells, a huge component of Shari’s waste, can be recycled in some counties with special agreements. According to Scott, “After performing the right-sizing audit we found we could reduce our waste costs by both changing the bin size and decreasing the number of pick-ups through improved recycling habits. This was especially beneficial at our Oregon sites due to the State’s no-cost recycling program.”

As Shari’s moves towards their 2025 goals, they remain fully committed to their company’s culture of sustainability, as evidenced by their adoption of strategic energy management principles. By moving away from a technology and project-centered approach to a holistic program supported by engaged leadership and staff, they are cementing their position as an industry leader in corporate responsibility.

THE ECOVA ADVANTAGE

Ecova makes companies successful through energy and sustainability management. With its robust data management solutions and hands-on energy expertise, Ecova is uniquely positioned to become an extension of its clients’ teams—giving them more room to focus on activities that drive energy efficiency, carbon reduction and brand value. Clients leveraging the company’s Carbon Manager software and consulting services have an average CDP Disclosure score in the 90s, with four clients on the CDLI and one on the A-list. Ecova is proud to partner with leading global companies, such as Shari’s, to drive powerful results and significant environmental progress.

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