One-Stop lighting program helps climate activists walk the walk
Note: Fig + Farro is temporarily closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Gift cards can still be purchased on their website for future visits.
In early 2018, a new restaurant opened in Calhoun Square in Uptown after several other businesses tried and failed to find legs in the spot. Fig + Farro is different from the other businesses that came before and most of those in the Uptown area in one major way — it is entirely vegetarian. The vision behind the meatlessness is climate-motivated — the restaurant’s website states that it wants to “reduce our carbon FOODprint and positively impact the planet, one meal at a time.”
While the restaurant’s uniqueness drew a lot of attention from news outlets (City Pages, MinnPost, and Buzzfeed among them), they still faced one problem common to nearly all small businesses: energy spending. Small business owners often have limited financial resources when starting out, as well as limited time to explore efficiency options, but this issue dovetailed with Fig + Farro’s mission as well — high electricity use corresponds to carbon emissions. Fig + Farro’s owner, Michelle Courtright, said, “We are a plant-based restaurant with a mission to fight climate change, so it made sense for us to look at all options of reducing our carbon footprint as a business.”
In 2019, Fig + Farro worked with One-Stop Efficiency Shop’s lighting program, a full-service rebate program available throughout Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory to small businesses with a monthly electric demand of 400 kilowatts or less. For two decades, One-Stop’s service has provided a single point of contact for practical lighting and HVAC solutions, while being sensitive to the time constraints and financial barriers that small businesses often face. “The audit and conversion process was literally a ‘one-stop’ process,” Courtright said. “CEE reached out to me to schedule the audit and then followed up with a graph showing potential energy savings as well as financial savings.”
With Fig + Farro, as with all of One-Stop’s customers, the program included a free, no-obligation audit, detailed recommendations, project guidance and oversight, and filing and submission of all paperwork for significant rebates. Courtright said about Fig + Farro’s work with One-Stop, “Although the cost of a full conversion was substantial for our size of restaurant, they outlined the rebates and how to offset the costs. They provided a clear return on investment and even made a suggestion of which electricians would be able to do the work. It's been a little over a year and we've seen an average annual savings of over $8,000, and our energy usage is down by 25% or more.”
Those savings came directly from lighting retrofits that conserved around 43,000 kilowatt hours of energy annually — equivalent to 14,100 loads of laundry. Thanks to the amount of money saved, Fig + Farro’s lighting investment saw a full payback in under one year. “We thought an LED conversion would just be the right thing to do, but didn't realize the financial benefits would be so significant,” Courtright said. “As an active business working on reducing our carbon footprint, One-Stop was the easiest way to align our mission with our actions.”
To learn more about One-Stop’s services or to get your business started on the road toward energy and cost savings, visit the program’s website.
Photo: Right to left: Jamie Fitzke (CEE); Michelle Dreier (Minnesota Electrical Association); Michelle Courtright (Fig + Farro); Jeff Johnson (CEE); and Representative Jamie Long (District 61B) met for dinner at Fig + Farro as part of a "CIP in My District" tour last winter, highlighting the restaurant's amazing savings and the overall district's success through CIP and One-Stop.
One-Stop Efficiency Shop
Fig + Farro