How Do You Get Businesses To Save Energy? Show Them How It’s Done

Five locations. Two kitchens. 80 employees. 300,000 meals served every year. The Capuchin Soup Kitchen does it all through private donations and being good stewards of their money.

So, Brother Jerry Smith was intrigued when he received a phone call about doing an energy audit for their kitchen on Conner St. As he says, they are always looking to economize. He had no idea that a few months later, the location would be given new energy-efficient commercial ovens, fryers, natural gas water heaters and LED lighting, effectively lowering their energy costs by $4,000 a year.

“I said, ‘Oh, sure,’ without realizing that it would result in all of this,” said Bro. Jerry.

Throughout the audit and resulting energy makeover, the Conner St. Facility remained open so they could continue to serve three meals a day, six days a week. DNV GL donated and installed all of the equipment to demonstrate what is available to restaurants and other businesses through the financial incentives offered through DTE Energy’s energy efficiency program.

While Public Act 295 passed in 2009 made it possible for DTE Energy to offer incentives to save energy, restaurant owners are utilizing the incentives at a much lower rate than other business segments. One reason for that says Ken Randazzo, DTE Energy’s Energy Partnership manager, is these business owners use equipment until it fails and then go directly to their equipment distributor to replace it.

By demonstrating how planned obsolescence can save the Capuchin’s money in the long run, Randazzo hopes to capture the attention of others in the food service industry.

“We want to change how we approach energy efficiency with this segment of customers,” he said at a recent media briefing.

He also announced that DTE Energy will be working directly with the distributors to make sure non-chain food service businesses have a chance to take advantage of all available incentives. The potential energy savings for these businesses is enormous, approximately 43 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 137 million cubic sq. ft. of gas each year.

“We think this program will help restaurant operators become more energy efficient, reduce their operating costs, increase their profit margin and then they can expand their businesses here in Michigan,” said Randazzo.

Saving 19 percent a month on electric and gas usage will make an impact on the bottom line for the Capuchin’s, and doing the work necessary to achieve those savings without negatively impacting the people served at the Conner St. Facility was another positive outcome
of the demonstration.

“This has been a real joy to participate in this program,” said Bro. Jerry. “Everybody involved in it has been really great to work with. We didn’t miss a beat in getting this equipment installed, the services when on here as usual, so we’re just really grateful and pleased.”


This article was originally written for and published on DTE Energy’s

For more stories for small business owners, visit CBS Small Business Pulse Detroit.


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