Beginning with the End in Mind

A Quick Serve Restaurant Case Study


When the energy manager at a major quick-serve restaurant client was tasked with developing the strategy to achieve a 20% energy intensity reduction, Burton Energy Group was able to respond with exactly what their client needed and helped bring clarity to their path forward.  Leveraging the organizational and technical knowledge that had been gained through a variety of consulting projects over previous years with this client and other national clients, Burton immediately went to work as a seamless extension of their energy management team.  Burton organized calls with key employees inside the company as well as outside partners to gain their perspectives.  In the span of 4 months, Burton and the client energy team had assembled a comprehensive approach to tackling the multi-year, 20% energy intensity reduction, which included key elements such as:

  • Documented headwinds and tailwinds and their resulting impact on the portfolio and goal feasibility,
  • Multiple key strategies in the areas of lighting, HVAC, kitchen equipment, and operational practices,
  • A multi-year energy upgrade investment strategy coupled with an overall project ROI to help sell the project to client senior leadership.

The overall framework developed was ultimately used to communicate the approach in a logical and data-driven manner to show the feasibility, capital cost, and overall business return for embarking on this journey to a 20% energy improvement.  After completing the US model, the framework was ultimately adopted by several other international business units and Burton was retained to assist in the development of their unique strategies.

Moving Past the Spreadsheets

Burton prides itself on being a consulting company that is able to meet clients “right where they are now” and help lead them down the path of “where they want to be” to achieve their ultimate energy and sustainability goals.  Upon successful adoption of the goal, capital funding was made available to begin the demonstration and vetting of the 7 key initiatives that formed the foundation of the 20% reduction strategy.  Burton quickly went to work with the client to assemble a site-level prioritization for testing several main strategies.  Variables considered in prioritization included assessing the portfolio, regional energy prices, state and utility incentive programs, and available capital.

Many of the reduction measures involved new technologies and business processes that the client had not previously deployed.  Because of this Burton assisted them in identifying and vetting key implementation partners who could help deliver the solution nationally.  While the supplier and technology testing was underway, Burton provided the technical resources required to complete early site audits, business cases, and demonstration projects to better understand the scope and challenges these new business partners would face.

In addition to developing deployment processes and partners, measurement of actual energy savings was identified as an initial priority.  Measuring actual savings using detailed equipment-level submetering against the expected savings in the original model was critical to receiving future capital investment as well as refining the assumptions in the original 20% savings model.  Burton brought together several approaches to capture this circuit-level submetering data in real-time as well as analysis frameworks to understand and draw conclusions from the data.

Tracking the Results in the Cloud

A client-friendly way to organize and display the results of these complex yet connected portfolio-wide initiatives was clearly needed to communicate the value achieved to multiple levels in the client organization, as well as to help to continuously be prepared for the next round of investment.  To meet these needs Burton deployed its patent-pending Client Energy Portal.  This tool provides feedback on overall energy intensity, tracks the status and measures and verifies results of completed projects, and provides an easy way to find the relative energy performance of restaurants in the portfolio including tabular, graphical, and heat map display capabilities.  The energy portal also includes energy analyst services.  These services combine a responsive  internal energy analyst  coupled with a comprehensive SQL database to enable the team to generate answers to very complex portfolio-level questions quickly and easily.

Continuing the Journey to 20%

With year one behind the team, the client team and Burton are assessing the lessons learned and re-prioritizing the portfolio and reduction measures to maximize ROI for a cash-hungry organization while simultaneously looking for the “Next Big Thing” to roll out across the portfolio.  It looks to be an exciting journey!

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