Next LEED Certification Phase

We've completed another milestone in our LEED certification process. We've provided all clarification requests made by the review team concerning our design submission. 25 of our 38 credits we're attempting for a LEED Gold rating are related to building design.

The big LEED focus is energy efficiency and reduction in energy consumption. In Chicago, 70% of our greenhouse gases come from buildings, and a big chunk of that comes from restaurants. We hope to show restaurants how to reduce energy consumption-- they save money, and we all get cleaner air. Who cares? I think of all the kids in school with allergies and asthma. Poor air quality makes all of it worse. How much better could kids do in school if they were healthier, more alert, free of respiratory problems? We can all do our part.

Plus, it's a really short walk from clean air, water and soil to amazing flavor in food.

So, our design includes a lighting plan that uses 35% less energy than a standard facility. HVAC uses 30% less. 100% of our equipment is Energy Star rated if it's in a measured class. One example: our sound system in the dining room-- Energy Star-- uses just 10% of the power of a conventional system.

These energy calculations are done by our engineers; they measure against a green building code called ASHRAE. It's the standard LEED uses to set performance measurements for energy systems in buildings. Think of it as the "green" building code.

One of our major design innovations is in kitchen hood that's above our equipment. It has variable controls that adjust the draw of the fans based on sensors that can tell how much cooking is going on. It will save about 20% of our heating and cooling energy by reducing the exhaust fan speed when cooking activity slows way down.

Most people think of all the recycled materials when you imagine a green building. We certainly have plenty of that, but energy efficiency is the biggest difference we can all make. Before this project, I thought my electric bill was a given, a number I couldn't do much to change. Since January of this year, I've cut my electric bill in HALF. And I don't feel like I gave anything up. I went to, and signed up for real-time pricing from ComEd. I run my dishwasher overnight; laundry too. My bills keep going down, and I keep finding more ways to reduce, thanks to the web tools they have. It's been much easier than I ever imagined to do my part.