Restaurants Are First Denver Businesses Going Green for DNC

    The “greenest convention in the history of the planet” will pay long-term dividends for the city, state and region, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper says.The “greening” of the Democratic National Convention being held here in August is not only an important end in itself, but is also an investment in the future, a way of attracting increased convention business to Denver, Mayor John Hickenlooper said Thursday.

    Speaking to a meeting of restaurateurs gathered to learn about reducing the environmental impacts of their businesses in advance of the arrival of 35,000 conventioneers, Hickenlooper said:

    “From an economic development perspective, a green convention is an increasingly sought-after niche. We are already being talked about around the country as one of the hottest convention cities in the country … Green conventions, all these trade groups are moving in that direction.”

    The session with the restaurant industry is only the first of a series of information and training sessions designed to make the Democratic convention a premier “Denver experience” by emphasizing environmentally sensitive technology and methods.

    “We don’t want this to be Los Angeles II, or Boston III, or New York IV,’ said mayoral senior advisor Katherine Archeluta. “We want it to be the Denver experience … This has to be the greenest convention that ever was. It must set the standard.”

    Hickenlooper has said that he wants it to be the “greenest convention in the history of the planet.” To achieve this, the city and the host committee are planning to get carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint, to encourage walking within the convention area, and to provide more than a thousand bicycles for delegate transportation.

    The Democratic convention will be the largest one Denver has ever hosted.

    Most of the people who come to it will be eating out at least some of the time. Providing greening tips to the restaurant business is a high priority. Restaurants are the most intensive energy users in the retail sector, using five times as much energy per square foot of space as retail stores, office buildings or lodging establishments.

    Attendees received a series of tips on how to make their energy and water usage more efficient. Most were fairly simple and relatively low cost, like replacing incandescent bulb with compact fluorescent bulbs, using low-flow valves to rinse and wash dishes, repairing leaks and managing indoor lighting efficiently. The low-flow valves are so efficient and save so much money and water that several jurisdictions, including Boulder County and the state of California, give them away to restaurants willing to adopt them.

    Hickenlooper, who used to own the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Lodo along with several other restaurants, told the group at lunch – a green, locally grown lunch:

    “Usually I talk about the importance of elected officials having at least, I draw the line now at three years, of restaurant experience. Aside from all the other common factors between local governments and restaurants, you never have enough capital. You’ve got a very diverse group of people you’ve got to make into a great team. And the public is always pissed off about something.

    “But perhaps most important, in the restaurant business you learn there is never any margin, there’s no profit, in getting so crosswise with people that they’re going to spend the first half-hour of every day for the next three months figuring out how they’re going to ruin your business.”

    The next “green convention” training effort is scheduled for the lodging industry on Jan. 28.