Taking your coffee green may just turn out to be the wave of the future.
With environmental concerns on everyone’s mind these days, one of the most frequented and visual coffee shop franchises in the area has become a leader in the “going green” revolution.
Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees and brothers-in-law Richard Demers and Roger Deslauriers, in business together since 1968, have taken the reigns of the eco-friendly revolution and made it their business not only to make the doughnuts, but make them while easing the burden on the energy-strained planet.
Owners of Dunkin’ Donuts shops in Attleboro, Rehoboth and Taunton, as well as stores in Florida, Demers and Deslauriers have outfitted their stores with solar panels, tankless hot water systems, automatic faucets and light switches and installed LED lights for their parking lots.
On Friday, Deslauriers not only unveiled his shop’s new status of meeting green demands at his South Main Street store, but also celebrated his family’s 50 years in the business.
His father started as a franchise owner in 1959.
Art Krebs, CEO of Construction Art, the company responsible for getting the Dunkin Donuts shops “online” in the going green department, said that the solar panels provide about 8.9 kilowatts, or about 10 percent of the store’s actual consumption. “The good thing is that not only are [Demers and Deslauriers] producing their own electricity but at the end of the day because of the lifetime of that system, they will actually be equating to planting about 5,000 trees. They are also reducing their carbon footprint by a huge amount.”
Krebs said the reason Demers and Deslauriers are doing it is to reduce costs “so the community will get some of the savings back from that. You can compare their prices with other stores and see they keep their prices low because of innovation to keep costs down.”
For anyone who has passed by, or stopped in a Dunkin Donuts knows that it is one business which seems to constantly thrive, even in the midst of the current struggling economy. Drive-thru lines are always considerable, and inside, the businesses are always catering to customers. So with all this good fortune, why did Demers and Deslauriers see it necessary to invest in the greening of the planet?
“We’ve always prided ourselves in being innovative,” said Deslauriers. “We are part of our community. Right now, our environment is at the forefront of everything.” He used a train station metaphor to describe some of the reasoning behind his involvement in the green effort: “When the train leaves the station you can either be on the train or be at the station waving good bye to the train.
“My brother-in-law, Richard, has always been a big proponent of the environment. He goes all the way back to Jimmy Carter. I mean he has the solar panels, hot water heaters. I’m basically a nuts and bolts guy. I majored in accounting and finance; Richard is a musician and a songwriter. I see the light going into the prism; Richard sees the bands of color.” Deslauriers said Demers charges him with tasks and he gets them done. Which is what lead him to contact Krebs.
Krebs has been involved with the “greening” of companies for some time, noting that the government has instituted guidelines for companies who aim to become “certifiably green” using a system of points to attain certification. That title is a difficult one to earn for existing businesses, said Krebs, because in order to become certified, the business needs to be built from the ground up using “green” methods such as environmentally friendly construction materials.
“It’s difficult to retrofit a current building [to meet those standards],” said Deslauriers.
Krebs added that “this store is as green as you can get without certification.”
And as time passes, Krebs and his company will keep close tabs on the energy usage at these Dunkin Donuts shops via electronic meter. A portion of those readings are broadcast on a flat screen monitor on the wall above a counter where customers pick up extra napkins or straws and condiments.
“There’s always room for improvement,” said Krebs. “So a part of our follow-up is providing guidance and consulting as to how a business can maintain or improve and go forward.”
While the stores in Attleboro have gone according to plan in their transition, with Attleboro’s
South Main Street store going online in February, the Rehoboth store struggled and only recently has powered up using solar panels due to town regulations. But Deslauriers said the business moved forward, despite having to jump through a few hoops.
“Some people have the vision and understand it, and go for it,” Krebs said. “Other people are just reluctant and never understand it.” And the return, Krebs said, is well worth it. “It’s certainly better than trying to invest in the market or real estate.”
Krebs adds that the simple installation of automatic faucets reduces energy consumption by as much as 70 percent. Good for the planet, and for the business. And the hand dryers don’t use heat to dry as with other units since the latest technology uses air which seemingly peels away the moisture from the skin. And unlike conventional hand dryers, the new machine filters the air it uses. They too operate automatically and for a shorter period than the old dryers. It means both energy savings and a more sanitary environment.
Deslauriers said he believes the greening of businesses is the wave of the future, and all his shops, the current stores and any he may open, will strive to meet these demands. For Demers and Deslauriers, making the shops eco-friendly isn’t about government mandates, but about doing what’s best for the business, all the while accommodating the discerning customer, and serving up a fresh cup of green.
For consumers worried that businesses aren’t meeting the needs of the planet, Demers and Deslauriers have provided them with some comfort. They can feel at ease when stopping in at one those shops.
Construction Art, a subsidiary of Krebs Ventures LLC, based out of Alton, Tenn., can be reached at 888 930 2255, or visit them online at www.constructionart.us
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s development agency for renewable energy, provides programs for individuals, non-profits and businesses. Visit them at www.masstech.org.