Viewpoint: Are we crisis fatigued or crisis fit?

18 October 2022 by
Viewpoint: Are we crisis fatigued or crisis fit?

If you can find solutions to the issues facing the climate, they will automatically help you tackle energy bill rises, says Mark Chapman

The multiple crises faced over the past few years have challenged the very viability of the hospitality business model. The scale and pace of the increases in energy costs will undoubtedly require continued government support to ensure the viability of businesses in many industries. But the reality of the impacts of both the climate and energy crises mean that business as usual isn't an option for any hospitality operator.

To find a way through any problem it first helps to understand what it is. The impact of the climate crises through droughts, flooding and wildfires has already caused food price inflation and impacted supply chains. The expectations of customers, employees and investors are that the businesses they buy from, work for and invest in can demonstrate what they are doing to tackle the climate crises. Rising energy prices mean that securing long-term supply at an affordable cost, and ensuring you minimise usage through your operational practices, building design and menu will be critical to business survival.

One of the founding purposes of the Zero Carbon Forum is that it is better, quicker and more cost-effective to work out and implement the solutions to these problems together than on your own. We've created the Zero Carbon Forum Calculator and Toolkit with priority actions for operators of all sizes, which is available online free of charge, as well as a carbon footprint calculator.

Minimising waste, responding to consumer trends and de-risking your supply chain will help you not just survive but thrive in our challenging times

Once you've identified what you can do, we advise breaking actions down into the categories of people, product and place:


All the people in your business can play a role in taking action to minimise the climate and energy risks.

It's important that your plan of action is communicated and committed to by your leader to ensure everyone's buy in. The ‘why' – ‘to ensure our survival as a business and maintain a habitable planet to serve food and drink on' – is a good place to start.

Chefs/kitchen team

Typically, half the energy of your premises will be used by your kitchen team. Engage them in the right behaviours to minimise energy waste, such as not turning everything on when they arrive and the savings will flow. Increasing plant-based options, local sourcing, seasonal menus and minimising food waste can all be championed by your chefs to reduce your carbon impact.


The design of your premises, the equipment in them and the maintenance of it will be key to any efforts to reduce your energy and carbon emissions.


Engage your marketing team on how you can decarbonise your menu offerings and message your environmental commitments to bring your customers with you.


Between 70%-95% of the carbon emissions of your business are from your supply chain. A big cause of these emissions is the product that you serve and the supplier and country you source it from. Menu design is instrumental in reducing your carbon impact. It's well known that beef has the highest footprint of any food, but the country you source it from will also make a difference. Moving to plant-based alternatives for burgers can reduce carbon emissions by up to 90%. Understanding and shortening your supply chain to move to local and seasonal sourcing will also reduce emissions.

Your menu will also dictate the equipment you need in your kitchen and how long it needs to be on. Pasta boilers, fryers, chargrills are all high energy users, so consider what menu changes could be made to minimise energy use.


Significant energy reductions can be made through combining building design with internal equipment. Operators such as McDonald's have trialled a range of initiatives including on-site solar, insulation and using recyclable materials to design a net-zero restaurant, minimising both emissions and ongoing running costs. Implementing many of the measures required to help tackle the climate crises can help you endure the energy crises. Minimising waste, responding to consumer trends and de-risking your supply chain will help you not just survive but thrive in our challenging times.

To net zero together at pace.

Mark Chapman is founder and chief executive of Zero Carbon Forum

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