Powerhouse Dynamics Blog

America’s Greenest Restaurants slash energy use while serving up sublime sustenance

Posted on May 18, 2015 1:00:00 PM by Jay Fiske

Last month, The Daily Meal announced its annual selection of America’s Greenest Restaurants. The top 20 restaurants are chosen for their dedication to green and sustainable operation, while at the same time, serving “standout cuisine.”

Restaurants selected for the list must demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by earning a 3- or 4-star Green Restaurant Association (GRA) rating, a national certification for restaurants similar to LEED Certification for buildings.

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Posted in: Restaurant Energy Management, restaurant, Sustainability, green restaurant association

Are you waiting for your HVAC equipment to fail?

Posted on Mar 24, 2015 1:44:00 PM by Martin Flusberg

Powerhouse Dynamics CEO Martin Flusberg tackles the perceived cost of proactive equipment maintenance, and why it may actually cost much less than the more common "run to fail" approach.

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Posted in: HVAC, equipment performance monitoring

How Much Do Energy Management Systems Save Small Commercial Facilities?

Posted on Mar 3, 2015 6:00:00 AM by Martin Flusberg

I have often been struck by the wide range in claims about the effectiveness of an Energy Management System (EMS) in reducing energy usage. I have seen claims of anywhere from 10% to 35% in expected savings. While this wide range may be attributable to the range in functionality of different systems, I have actually seen this full range claimed even for systems that have the same functionality of heating and cooling control only.

I thought it would be interesting to explore what levels are reasonably achievable, to help in the process of parsing claims made by EMS vendors. Since we focus on smaller commercial facilities, let’s limit the discussion to facilities under 15,000 square feet and look at both retailers and restaurants in particular.

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Posted in: Energy Management Systems, savings, energy savings

Restaurant Facility Management Association (RFMA) Throws a Bash

Posted on Feb 5, 2015 11:26:00 AM by Jay Fiske

We’re just back from a fantastic RFMA 2015 Conference — this year held in beautiful San Diego. Hats off to the RFMA team for once again putting together a fun and productive event.  

I must admit to feeling somewhat guilty for leaving my family, friends and colleagues and narrowly escaping yet another winter storm in New England. The sun, balmy temperatures, and palm trees of San Diego were a welcome respite to a snow-clogged Boston.  

On Sunday night, the party kicked-off in true fashion with the Super Bowl extravaganza at Jolt’n Joe’s. The crazy-exciting game only served to electrify what is always a lively opening event for RFMA, and as a Boston-based company, we certainly had an extra spring in our step the next day. 

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Posted in: RFMA

Local Heroes: The Greater Boston Food Bank

Posted on Jan 30, 2015 5:11:58 PM by Helen Fairman

If you tried to reach anyone in our Boston office yesterday, you probably noticed an unusual amount of background noise on the call.

That's because our whole Boston-based team was sorting food donations at the Greater Boston Food Bank for the afternoon. And we can neither confirm nor deny that there were a couple of customer support calls taken right from the assembly line.

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Posted in: powerhouse dynamics

4 Resolutions: Reduce Small Commercial Facilities' 2015 Energy Spend

Posted on Jan 6, 2015 11:51:50 AM by Martin Flusberg

Practicing energy efficiency is a bit like exercise; you know it’s good for you, but you don’t really have the time to deal with it.

If this is true for the average homeowner, it is even truer for an operator of multiple small commercial facilities, such as restaurants or retail locations. 

But, since this is early January, let’s resolve to try harder, and look at a few ways to wring out the old way of looking at energy while you ring in the new year.

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Posted in: Energy Efficiency, Energy Management Systems 2.0, EMS 2.0, small commercial facilities, asset management, enterprise energy management

Will retail chains see more green than red this holiday season?

Posted on Dec 23, 2014 9:09:00 AM by Helen Fairman

I used to work in retail a decade or two ago, and the holiday season (which began roughly in September) was our most important - the time when we made all of the cash. We'd look at the daily numbers and watch our top line increase, but at the store level, what we never saw was the bottom line. Nonetheless, we managed stock levels carefully to make sure that we had just enough to cover our increasing sales without having overstock on December 26. And we doubled our staff with seasonal hires, all of whom required training. In fact, our costs probably doubled at holiday time, between increased product costs, increased staffing, increased shrink (unfortunately), and longer holiday hours. 

All of that is still true, but now we have many more tools at our disposal to assess our success against actual real-time costs.

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Posted in: Retail Energy Management, Energy Management Systems, circuit-level monitoring, EMS

30% price hike?! Restaurants, C-Stores & Retail: Time to Manage Energy!

Posted on Nov 5, 2014 10:47:00 AM by Helen Fairman

This morning, a local Boston radio station broadcast a story about the projected 30-50% rise in electric prices this winter across New England. Because the price hike is due to structural issues including a lack of natural gas transmission capability (over 50% of electricity is generated by natural gas in New England), it is unlikely to be temporary, and has resulted in a dubious distinction: New England is likely to have the highest natural gas rates on earth, according to Taff Tschamler of energy supplier North American Power. Ouch.

While this isn't a surprise to industry watchers - it's been predicted for several years - it's likely to hit home (or more to the point, hit the wallet) for New England consumers and businesses this winter. So what are energy intensive enterprises like multi-unit restaurant, convenience store, and retail chains to do to prepare for the inevitable pinch? Other than hoping for a warm winter or waiting for multi-billion dollar pipelines to be built, how can these businesses protect themselves from the worst bottom line effects of these astronomical price increases?

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Disruptive Technologies: Why companies need to embrace change

Posted on Oct 6, 2014 4:00:00 PM by Jay Fiske

This afternoon at MUFSO, I listened to a compelling discussion about emerging technologies and the disruptions they pose to our current business models and strategies. David Starmer, vice president of Global IT Store Systems at Dunkin’ Brands, Gary Price, president of Corner Bakery Café and Mark Freeman, senior manager of Global Dining Services shared insights into the technologies we should pay close attention to and those that are not worth the investment.

A major topic that was only briefly discussed was the growing conversation around the value of automating operations for energy management.

Historically, energy has been considered an “uncontrollable” cost by most food service businesses. The amount of data flowing in has always been concentrated in a report at the end of the week or month with an overarching retroactive perspective. Other than these reports, energy is essentially an invisible commodity, with the only observable amenity being lighting – a relatively low-cost resource.

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Posted in: Restaurant Energy Management, smart building technology

Cultivating a Food Safety Culture in Your Restaurant

Posted on Oct 6, 2014 11:30:00 AM by Jay Fiske

At MUFSO today, we attended an interesting presentation about an important topic for all restaurant organizations: safety. Customers and employees are the driving forces behind any successful restaurant so their safety and well-being is a top priority for restaurant managers. When a restaurant is identifying opportunities to keep its customers and employees safe, it doesn’t focus only on facility safety issues like using “caution wet floor” signs. Rather, restaurant management and food preparation personnel are constantly focused on the safety of the food they’re serving. While many angles of food safety can be discussed, Powerhouse Dynamics is most focused on preventive measures, instead of responsive tactics, when it comes to the food safety conversation.

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Posted in: restaurant, food safety

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