[Skip to Content]
Cafeteria

A cafeteria blends several uses--including food preparation, food service, and multi-use seating areas--into a diverse set of rooms with substantial visitor sustainability education opportunities. Food service equipment uses a lot of energy and often requires items to be powered on all the time to maintain food quality. Using energy-efficient fixtures and lighting can assist in making the space more efficient. Food service areas also provide great opportunities for large-scale recycling and composting, reducing the waste stream. Look for creative ways to reduce a cafeteria's environmental impact, such as limiting the types of cooked food per meal, using steam or hot water powered equipment in lieu of electric, and offering reusable or compostable service ware instead of disposable.

Share
Tilt device for optimal viewing Click on a hotspot to learn sustainable strategies and compare materials for that system
  • Hot Food Service
  • Hot Food Service

    • Consider humidity created by warming trays when specifying cooling systems for the serving areas. Inadequate humidity control can lead to moisture on windows, which can cause mold if allowed to drip behind walls and floors.
    • Seal any visible steam leaks from warming trays to save energy and avoid excessive humidity in the space.
    • Manage plug-load by selecting products that can be powered off completely during non-business hours.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Signage
  • Signage

    • Communicate progress towards achieving building energy efficiency, solid waste reduction, or other sustainability goals.
    • Display real-time information about current energy consumption and/or performance of alternative energy systems such as solar panels.
    • Display signage about the environmental benefits associated with design choices within the food service area. For example, educate visitors about compostable and biobased materials while they are waiting in line.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Cold Food Service
  • Cold Food Service

    • Select equipment that does not use CFC based refrigerants or uses SNAP-program approved substances.
    • Select energy-conserving appliances, including Energy Star rated and FEMP-designated appliances.
    • Manage plug-load by selecting products that can be powered off completely during non-business hours.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Tray Service
  • Tray Service

    • Using reusable trays and serviceware minimizes waste, but they require hot water and soap to clean and sterilize.
    • Use biodegradable alternatives to plastic if using disposable take-out containers, flatware, and plates.
    • Serve condiments via large dispensers and small recyclable cups to reduce waste and support buying condiments in bulk.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Beverages
  • Beverages

    • Select a coffee machine that does not continually heat water duing nonbusiness hours.
    • Offer beverage dispensers and reusable (glass or plastic) cups instead of pre-packaged beverages.
    • Clean ice makers regularly using sanitizing solution according to the manufacturers specifications to avoid the accumulation of biofilm, molds, mildews, and disease-causing bacteria.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Lighting
  • Lighting

    • Use controls that dim or turn off electric lighting in response to natural light levels to reduce energy consumption.
    • Limit the use of accent lighting to specific artwork, menu boards, and educational items to reduce energy consumption.
    • Incorporate daylighting or views to the outside to create an inviting, ascetically pleasing environment as natural light is usually preferred to artificial lighting.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Solid Waste
  • Solid Waste

    • Most cafeteria waste can either be recycled or composted. Composting diverts waste from landfills and creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
    • Consider white boards or tack surfaces in lieu of printing signs that change regularly. When printed materials must be used, consider materials that are reusable or recyclable.
    • Equipment that pulps and dehydrates organic waste onsite into a compostable material can save space, reduce the frequency of trash pickup (as few as once every 2-3 weeks), and save money.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Cashier Stations
  • Cashier Stations

    • Make receipts optional instead of printing automatically. Provide email receipts instead of paper where practical.
    • Provide healthy snacks in the checkout line.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Cleaning Station
  • Cleaning Station

    • Conserve water by using WaterSense labeled faucets.
    • Use hands free sinks to decrease germ transfer and to prevent continuous faucet operation.
    • Post signage to ensure dishwashers only run when completely filled.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Food Preparation
  • Food Preparation

    • Use cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that balance environmental considerations with appropriate food safety cleanliness standards. See the Commercial Food Service Standard 189 for additional information.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Food Storage
  • Food Storage

    • Use Energy Star rated and FEMP-designated appliances to reduce electricity consumption when in use and to reduce phantom plug load during off-hours. Alternatively, use only appliances that can be turned off completely when not in use.
    • Select temperature settings that balance food safety needs with energy conservation efforts.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Pest Control
  • Pest Control

    • Make sure all food is stored in air-tight containers or in refrigeration units.
    • Food should not be stored on the floor in bags that can be easily infiltrated by pests. Keep food up on shelving that can be cleaned underneath and inspected easily.
    • Seal cracks in flooring and walls to prevent pests from entering food service areas.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • HVAC
  • HVAC

    • Design for high efficiency kitchen hoods with low capture and containment (C&C) airflow rates. Ensure air exchange rates are maintained above code minimums, including NFPA 96 and local restrictions, but below ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010 recommended maximums.
    • Utilize demand control ventilation (DCV) kitchen hoods to conserve energy by reducing exhaust airflow when cooking is not taking place. ASHRAE provides guidance for DCV testing and configuration.
    • Consider automating kitchen exhaust via temperature, smoke, or appliance energy use sensors to optimize performance.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Cooking Appliances
  • Cooking Appliances

    • Use Energy Star rated and FEMP-designated appliances to reduce electricity consumption when in use and to reduce phantom plug load during off-hours.
    • Use only appliances that can be turned off completely when not in use.
    • Consider activating only appliances that are required for the scheduled menu service

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Fire Safety
  • Fire Safety

    • Use fire suppression systems that use a SNAP-approved (non-ozone depleting) substance to extinguish fires.
    • Keep a Class K fire extinguisher close to the deep fryer and all appliances that may ignite grease.
    • Ceiling-mounted sprinkler systems should be incorporated into the ceiling layout, but the locations should be carefully coordinated with non-water suppression systems required over the cooking line.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Walls
  • Walls

    • Walls should be cleanable and nonporous to prevent growth of mold and mildew.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Cleaning Station
  • Cleaning Station

    • Conserve water by using WaterSense labeled faucets.
    • Use hands free sinks to decrease germ transfer and to prevent continuous faucet operation.
    • Post signage to ensure dishwashers only run when completely filled.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Flooring
  • Flooring

    • Select materials that are extremely durable to withstand high load applications.
    • Install non-slip mats to improve safety in locations where spills occur frequently.
    • Select materials that are impervious to reduce bacteria accumulation and mold formation.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Solid Waste
  • Solid Waste

    • Most cafeteria waste can either be recycled or composted. Composting diverts waste from landfills and creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
    • Consider white boards or tack surfaces in lieu of printing signs that change regularly. When printed materials must be used, consider materials that are reusable or recyclable.
    • Equipment that pulps and dehydrates organic waste onsite into a compostable material can save space, reduce the frequency of trash pickup (as few as once every 2-3 weeks), and save money.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Patron Seating
  • Patron Seating

    • Use movable, re-configurable tables and chairs to maximizes functionality of space.
    • Consider how seating areas can be utilized during non-peak hours. Movable furniture, a speaker system, and wireless internet connectivity support additional space uses.
    • Evaluate sustainable attributes such as high recycled content and rapidly renewable materials when selecting furniture cross-link GPC for the space.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips

  • Windows and Daylighting
  • Windows and Daylighting

    • Skylights can provide copious ambient light, minimizing the reliance on electric lighting for portions of the day.
    • Focusing window glazing in a specific direction can assist in either harnessing more direct light (to the south) or providing more diffuse, constant ambient light (to the north).
    • Shading devices can be employed to minimize glare and heat gain.

    Click Design Guidance to View Additional Green Tips