BUNN’s ENERGY STAR Certification Elevates Coffee Service Industry

Feb. 6, 2019

Office workers want to help the environment, and beverage equipment manufacturers have taken note. BUNN is among them, as seen by its recent achievement of ENERGY STAR® certification for its latest commercial coffee brewer, and other coffee brewers will likely follow. 

BUNN sets ENERGY STAR certification goal 

Introduced in 1992, ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program that the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency manage that identifies and promotes energy-efficient products, homes and buildings. Its products program sets specifications for products and testing for a variety of products, and the program developed a specification for commercial coffee brewers in 2016

According to the U.S. EPA, coffee brewers are an energy-consuming plug-load found in virtually every commercial and institutional establishment, regardless of whether a commercial kitchen is present. While the energy savings of individual models may be minimal, the total aggregate energy savings and wide distribution across many types of operations make coffee brewers a good candidate for the ENERGY STAR program with significant energy savings potential. The U.S. EPA also recognized that there are a variety of technologies that have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of models including improved insulation, energy saving and power management features. 

ENERGY STAR began researching the possibility of adding commercial brewers to its program in 2014. Factors like data availability, stakeholder interest and a ready ASTM (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials) method all played a role in deciding to pursue this category of appliances. Stakeholder involvement was key in the process, with ENERGY STAR kicking off the development process with an in-person stakeholder meeting during the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, IL in May 2014. Subsequent stakeholder meetings, correspondence and draft comment periods followed, as per the EPA required stakeholder involvement in the product development process. 

Karalynn M. McDermott, senior vice president of market development for BUNN, said the manufacturer became interested in obtaining the ENERGY STAR certification, after seeing an analysis a number of years ago from the Specialty Coffee Association about energy use sources from a café or roasting facility. The analysis had found that the most energy used or wasted in coffee from seed to cup was in the consuming side in cafes. 

“Most of our operators are high-volume operators. They do a lot of brewing. We set it as an initiative to help them reduce the energy consumption of brewing equipment,” McDermott said. 

After BUNN learned through the National Automatic Merchandising Association, or NAMA, of ENERGY STAR’s plans to develop specifications for commercial coffee brewers, they got involved and stayed involved in the endeavor. BUNN’s efforts paid off. 

“We’re excited to be the first unit that had the ENERGY STAR rating in [commercial] brewing equipment,” McDermott said of the accreditation for BUNN’s Infusion Series® Soft Heat® brewers. 

BUNN exemplifies one of its core beliefs, respecting the planet 

The Infusion Series® Soft Heat® brewers line, which was launched in 2018, is BUNN’s newest piece of equipment, and it was designed with energy savings in mind, McDermott said. 

She said many corporate clients of office coffee service providers have sustainability as a top initiative and have been asking their vendor partners for ideas on how to include their priority of sustainability in coffee services. BUNN distributors have also seen corporations hiring sustainability directors onto their staff who are asking their vendor partners what ideas they have regarding achieving energy savings and reducing waste. McDermott said the focus on sustainability and energy savings plays into BUNN’s commitment to providing a quality customer experience. 

Mike Hoeft, a regional account manager for BUNN who is the coffee service chair on a NAMA Emerging Leaders Network committee, also noted how office workers’ increased focus on sustainability is something coffee service providers can capitalize on. 

“The younger generation of workers are sensitive to sustainability in the workplace. We are seeing increasing trends where employees are doing their part to make the office more sustainable,” Hoeft said. “From bringing reusable water containers or coffee mugs to composting used coffee grounds, anything to increase sustainability in the workplace can now be used as a selling point when bidding for business. Our new Infusion Series® Soft Heat® is ENERGY STAR approved! Incorporating these brewers into a coffee program is a great way to contribute to any office’s sustainability plan!” 

BUNN contributes to ENERGY STAR’s knowledge of industry 

Eric Dell, senior vice president, external affairs at NAMA, said BUNN had been proactive, working with NAMA and ENERGY STAR early in the process of determining factors to consider in granting certification for commercial coffee brewers. 

This effort began approximately seven or eight years ago, he said. For example, coffee brewer manufacturers provided industry expertise regarding energy consumption savings, Dell said. Companies who were a part of this process included Newco and Mars Drinks (recently acquired by Lavazza), as well as BUNN. 

“At NAMA, we work to provide industry expertise to programs like ENERGY STAR to create win-win scenarios,” said Dell. “ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program. It’s designed to help businesses and individuals save money and protect the environment at the same time,” he said. 

To his knowledge, BUNN is the first company to have an ENERGY STAR certification in the specification for commercial coffee brewers. 

“I am assuming others will follow, hopefully, because it’s positive for the environment, it’s positive for the industry and it’s the right thing for the industry to do to stay ahead of the curve,” he said. 

He said NAMA has been and will continue to highlight work around sustainability and the positive environmental impacts the industry has created through efforts to reduce energy consumption in vending machines and changes to new and refurbished vending machines to make them more energy efficient. Sustainability is important and is an issue that the industry, operators, equipment manufacturers, consumers and the government all care about. 

He said he did not know the status of other companies that may be striving for ENERGY STAR certification, but he thinks that it is natural for companies to keep track of the success of others to remain competitive in the market.

Editor’s Note: For more information on certified commercial coffee brewers, visit this ENERGY STAR webpage. For more details on the entire product specification development process, visit this ENERGY STAR webpage.


BUNN is the first to achieve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR certification for a commercial coffee brewer with its new Infusion Series® Soft Heat® brewers.
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