Turns Out, The Low Hanging Fruit Is Green

Jun 16, 2012 by

Turns Out, The Low Hanging Fruit Is Green

It started when a light bulb literally went off over his head.

While paying bills one day about nine years ago, a standard 100 watt light bulb burned out and Joey Terrell of Denny’s in Mokena found himself changing the bulb and doing some quick math. He replaced the bulb with an energy efficient 12 watt compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and calculated the monthly savings on his electric bill. He then figured switching all of the bulbs in the store to CFL bulbs would save him $440 per month in electricity and the investment in the new bulbs would pay for itself in nine months. Beyond that, pure savings.

“It made me wonder what else I could do,” said Terrell. “What other low hanging fruit was out there that could result in savings and assist us in operating a successful restaurant.”

Nine years later, Terrell and his wife Susan have continued to actively pursue green initiatives – some big, some simple – that serve to save money as well as the planet.

One of their bigger initiatives was the recent registration for a US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification for a new Denny’s they are building in Joliet, IL. It will be the first green Denny’s in America.

“Susan and I attended a US Green Building Council meeting and learned quite a bit about saving utility costs. Energy requirements for restaurants are generally higher than other building types per square foot because of dish washers, fryers, ovens, griddles, toasters, ice machines, etc.” said Terrell. “I realized the economies of scale for restaurants were enormous.”


Included in the plans for the new Denny’s was special insulated walls and roofing as well as a reflective membrane on the roof, two instant hot water heaters, skylights and energy efficient dishwashers and fryers. Some of the biggest efficiency gains will be in lighting and water. Now using Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) instead of bulbs, the new Denny’s will have lighting bills 50-73% less than normal and the water usage will be reduced 30-50% due to tamper proof aerators on all faucets, low flow sprayers on the dishwasher and a high efficiency dishwasher from Ecolab.

Along with being a member of the IRA Board of Directors, Joey Terrell is a proud member of the Illinois Restaurant Association’s Green Restaurant Committee.

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  1. jeff nave

    Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Jeff.

  3. I always like to have a read about such things, my blog is related if you want to have a look round it please feel free. I have added yours to my bookmarks.

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