A new, high-tech Subway franchise in Kokomo, Indiana, recently received the state’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) commercial project certification, thanks in part to a Control4 automation system.
As part of Subway’s Eat Fresh, Live Green Eco-Restaurant initiative, the restaurant earned accolades for its use of intelligent automation technology for saving energy and for its green-building methodologies.
George Estep, franchisee of the newly opened Subway, had experienced the sting of his monthly electricity bills at his other restaurants and knew building a green restaurant was about more than just recycled construction materials and native plantings.
“Rising utility expenses were a factor in deciding to make this location a showcase of energy efficiency,” Estep says.
Estep teamed up with Brandon Pitcher, chief sustainability officer at Indiana-based real estate development firm Fortune Management.
Pitcher presented a vision for a store that was high-tech, economically sound, and environmentally conscious. Pitcher then commissioned Huston Electric to create a fully automated lighting, HVAC, and occupancy sensor-driven system powered by Control4 that would allow the building to act and react automatically to predetermined commands.
The building was fit with programmable light switches, thermostats, motion sensors, daylight sensors, and an eGauge energy-monitoring device that communicates wirelessly with the Control4 system.
The processes were then automated so interior and exterior lights would switch on and off based on pre-set opening and closing hours, bathroom and kitchen lights function based upon occupancy, and two exterior light level sensors harvest daylight to automatically conserve power.
When the sensors reach a set percentage of light, near 60 percent, the dining room lights on the side room will shut off, thereby “harvesting” the natural light coming into the dining area. Thermostats were also programmed to rise or drop automatically based on business hours alongside an in-ceiling ERV air recovery unit also controlled through a Control4 switch. A monitor in the lobby displays the Control4 navigator with the Eragy App in real time, acting both as an education and informational display tool.
In order to measure the project goal of a return on investment within 36 months, Huston turned to Eragy, a leading provider of smart energy software applications and services, to monitor the building’s overall power usage.
The Eragy system monitors electrical loads throughout the restaurant so that energy usage can be tracked and accessed remotely, allowing the restaurant staff to quickly understand projected monthly energy costs even before they get their bill, and make prior adjustments as needed.
Being able to monitor and record the shops’ energy savings allows Estep to track just how much money he is saving on his monthly electric bill. The energy savings alone is projected, at its current rate, to pay for the system in just over two and a half years–sooner than their original goal. At that point, the energy savings becomes additional profit to the business’ bottom line.
“Control4 and Eragy allowed us to combine high tech with a positive environmental impact,” says Huston’s Nate Cushman. “By organizing the different systems to work together, we’ve created effortless control with environmental consciousness that allows this Subway location to monetize their energy savings.”
The store displays the energy usage on a large monitor for customers to enjoy and discuss.
“We invested in an intelligent system because it made solid economic sense,” Pitcher says. “We went public with Eragy’s Watts On Now! app to expose customers and staff to the real world energy usage it takes to make a Subway operate. We want our store to provide creative and interactive experiences to our customers so they gain an understanding about economic and environmental issues.”
“Eco-restaurants reflect our commitment to social responsibility and sustainability,” says Marketing Director Elizabeth Stewart, who heads the Subway brand’s corporate social responsibility efforts. “We have pledged to make our restaurants and operations more environmentally responsible and it’s exciting when a franchisee takes this level of effort with their restaurant. They set a great example of just what can be done.”
With today’s affordable technology solutions, even small restaurants and businesses can deliver a high-tech experience to customers, while also enjoying energy savings.