Three tips for designing sustainable restaurants


Article provided by Brian Laubenthal, A line Architectural Concepts

When we think of a good dining experience, we usually think of high quality food and a beautifully designed space. These are extremely important qualities in the success of a restaurant, but it is also important to recognize that restaurants have a place in the environment and that we can create incredible experiences while keeping this environment in mind.

Sustainability in restaurant design is becoming increasingly important and popular as customers want spaces that conserve our resources and avoid creating unwanted waste. As experts in restaurant design, our architecture firm has created many sustainable dining spaces that always promote an incredible dining experience. Here are some tips for new restaurateurs who want to design sustainable restaurants.


Adaptive reuse is the key to sustainability

One of the biggest causes of waste in our society is construction waste. Tearing down old buildings and creating new ones means a lot of these materials end up in landfills. Most cities are full of old buildings such as warehouses that can be converted into restaurants.

Adaptive reuse is the design concept of reusing an existing structure and transforming it into a new space. Using this method means that restaurant owners can minimize the cost and waste of materials needed when building a new restaurant. By repurposing an existing building, you prevent demolished building materials from ending up in a landfill. Adaptive reuse often gives new purpose to an undeserved building, as your restaurant breathes new life into the community you serve. The best part about adaptive reuse is that almost any pre-engineered metal building can be reused in a foodservice space. For example, our Phoenix Arizona brewery design Roses by the stairs was an adaptive reuse project. We have transformed a 70 year old building which previously housed a costume shop into a modern brasserie.

Many city governments support adaptive reuse projects, and depending on your state and city, you may receive tax benefits or discounts on certain processing fees.

If you’re looking to design a restaurant with the environment in mind, try reusing an existing structure instead of building something completely new.

Avoid fluff and focus on function

Each area of ​​your restaurant should be designed for a specific purpose. Everything you add to your restaurant design should serve the function and flow of the space. Avoiding unnecessary lint and trim in restaurant design means you use fewer materials, save energy, and save money.

Shifting the design focus to a restaurant’s entrance is one way to impact customers as they enter the space. Other areas that have less foot traffic can then be reduced. Many restaurateurs are surprised at how unique their space can be by using minimal features while avoiding things like super decorative ceilings and lighting fixtures. Reducing certain aspects of your design can be good for the environment as well as for your budget as long as these changes respect the integrity of your brand.

Use natural lighting and energy efficient lighting

Keeping the lights on is a costly challenge for any restaurant owner. The electricity bill at the end of the month will always be very expensive, especially if there is energy waste in the space. A sustainable restaurant seeks to minimize lighting costs while maintaining a bright and pleasant dining space.

Natural light is one of the best ways to ensure that you design a restaurant that conserves energy while maintaining a well-lit dining area. Installing skylights throughout the restaurant, as well as designing entrances that let in plenty of light are ways to utilize sunlight. Natural light allows you to save energy while integrating customers into the environment around them. Creating a symbiosis between indoors and outdoors with seamless exits and entrances for diners inside and outside allows for even greater integration with the surrounding environment.

When you need to turn on the lights, installing light fixtures with a high seasonal energy efficiency (SEER) rating is a more sustainable way to light up a space.

Sustainability is an important thing to consider when designing and building a restaurant. Having a sustainable space that helps improve the environment around us can help reduce costs for the restaurant owner in return. The best part is that sustainable design doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice designing a unique, top-notch dining space.


Brian Laubenthal is the owner and principal architect of Aline Architecture Concepts in Scottsdale, Arizona. Aline Architecture Concepts provides a full suite of architectural services, but with a higher level of craftsmanship and understanding of the built environment. Learn more about its website.


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Rozella J. Cook