Food service is an energy-intensive operation. At Project Open Hand, we use gas to cook, electricity to cool, water to clean. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of energy to produce 2,500 meals with love every day, and we have one whopper of a utility bill! Not to mention our costs for garbage and water.
To minimize our consumption, we launched a Green Solutions Initiative in 2005, aimed at greening several parts of our operations. Our goal is to lower our operating costs as well as our impact on the environment.
Green initiatives we’ve implemented so far:
- We are building an indoor greenhouse that will enable Project Open Hand to grow our own organic herbs and greens, which aligns with our continuing commitment to provide fresh, healthy food to our clients, sourced as locally as possible.
- Solar panels added to our roof in 2007, which power electricity and hot water. The panels generate approximately half of our hot water and 10-15% of our electricity. Our solar power system was graciously donated by PG& E and installed by Luminalt Solar Energy Solutions. In 2008, we received a generous grant from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund to expand solar thermal system to maximum capacity.
Energy-efficient window inserts were installed throughout our building at 730 Polk Street in 2011. The project saves us more than $7,500 annually in gas and electric costs.
- We’re going local! We are sourcing more local food from Bay Area vendors, including Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, the Garden Project and San Francisco and Marin Food Banks. In addition, we source a significant amount of our food and supplies from local, family-owned Bay Area companies such as Bay Cities Produce Co. (produce), Berkeley Farms (dairy) Giusto’s (pasta), DelMonte (protein), Modesto (protein), SF Supply (supplies) to name a few.
- We have boosted our recycling efforts. We currently recycle 76% of our waste, and are actively working to increase that percentage.
- We replaced several cars in our delivery fleet in 2006 with more fuel-efficient vehicles, which has resulted in a 50% reduction in fuel consumption.