Back to Basics: Turn your pub green

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Related tags: Pub, Carbon footprint, Recycling, Punch pub

As licensee Simon Taylor-Williams will no doubt tell you, the benefits of making your business more environmentally friendly are huge.Earlier this...

As licensee Simon Taylor-Williams will no doubt tell you, the benefits of making your business more environmentally friendly are huge.

Earlier this year he won the Efficiency Factor, the competition run by The Publican in conjunction with British Gas Business, which rewarded the pub that could make the biggest energy savings over a six-month period.

Through a number of simple measures he slashed energy bills at Ye Olde Albion in Colchester, Essex, by 53 per cent, and CO2 emissions, otherwise known as the carbon footprint, by 46 per cent. In doing so, he saved himself money and got a significant promotional boost in these green-conscious times. Could you do something similar?

Marston's and Punch Taverns licensees have certainly been trying to. Both pub companies have focused increasingly on being more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Marston's appointed Bob Jauncey as its first energy and environmental manager last year with the target of reducing energy and emissions across the managed estate by 15 per cent in 18 months.

While much of the focus has been on new-build pubs at the design stage, it has also been about encouraging tenants and managers to get into the mindset of being green.

"A big part of the job of saving energy has to be done by simply raising awareness among staff," says Bob.

"We are putting an environmental champion in each pub to monitor eco-efficiency - and make sure everyone understands the environmental consequences of leaving lights on, windows open and TVs on standby overnight, for example."

Another initiative at Marston's has been the creation of an 'environment steering and design group', a committee made up of employees from across the business which meets at regular intervals and discusses ways to improve the green credentials of the company's pubs.

Punch's dedicated Carbon Management team has also set an ambitious target - to reduce the company's carbon footprint by 17 per cent by 2010.

Martin Schwaller, Punch's carbon manager, explains: "There is so much we can do to save energy and reduce our impact on the environment. When you consider that the average pub generates 15 to 16 times more carbon than the average household, it is so important to take action."

Marston's and Punch suggest energy-saving measures ranging from the simple and easy to carry out… to the rather more complicated

Some you can act on immediately:

• Make sure lights are turned off when not in use. Punch's Martin Schwaller recommends using stickers on light switches to tell staff and customers how they should be used. "For example, red for lights that should be left on all the time, amber for lights that need to be on at certain times and green for lights that should be turned off when there is nobody in the room."

• Switch off games machines when the pub is closed.

• Recycle waste oil. Both Marston's pub divisions are now advocating that pubs recycle waste oil in order to make biodiesel fuel and generate green electricity. Outside companies can pick up your oil and perform the process, as is the case with Marston's.

Some are more high-tech installations:

• Automatic meter reading. There are systems which can log energy used in the pub, including the kitchen and cellar, in order to pinpoint carbon hotspots.

• Energy-saving kitchen equipment. For example, Marston's is automatically recording freezer temperatures to optimise efficiency. Some Punch pubs have bottle fridges on timers so they switch off at closing time.

Heat-recovery filters recycle warm air pumped out by vents.

And the next big steps:

• Solar panels and wind turbines. Bob Jauncey sees this technology as "the big next step". While it is still prohibitively expensive for pubs, the technology is developing fast.

• Water recycling. "We are also looking at recycling rain water, collecting it, filtering it and using it for flushing toilets and so on," says Bob.

Case study: the Ram's Head, Grapenhall, Cheshire

When Graham Earl Dennett (below, right) took over the lease of Punch pub the Ram's Head in 2004 power shortages in the village were already causing blackouts - and in the planned major development of the pub, its energy needs were going to exceed the available supply.

The answer was an innovative green power supply system that would put energy back into the system.

As Graham explains: "The solution we came up with was to install a combined heat and power unit (CHP) which means we generate our own heat and electricity, and at times of low usage we actually export it back to the national grid."

The pub is also trying to reduce its carbon footprint in other ways. A vehicle converted to run on the Ram's Head's recycled cooking oil is used for collections, and the pub recycles all its waste glass and cardboard.

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