Red Stag goes green

The average customer might not notice, but there is something different about the newly opened Red Stag Supper Club in Minneapolis, and it’s not the broiled ling cod with roasted grape and caramelized fennel porridge.

The Red Stag will be the first LEED-CI-certified restaurant in Minnesota. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. (CI stands for Commercial Interior.) It is a rating system originally developed in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council to set standards for environmentally sustainable measurement, design and operations.

“I wanted to push the envelope on my business’s engagement with sustainability,” said owner Kim Bartmann. “We were already doing almost all local farms, energy savings things, et cetera, so LEED provided a framework for sustainable building and operations.”

Bartmann is also the owner of Bryant Lake Bowl and Cafe Barbette, where she serves locally grown foods. The Red Stag, open since late last fall, meets LEED standards for site development, indoor air quality and water, materials and energy use. The location, at 509 1st Ave. NE., formerly housed a mechanical contractor that did mostly sheet metal work.

“The restaurant does not really look different than any other restaurant,” said designer Rachelle Schoessler Lynn. “There are a lot of sustainable strategies that have been integrated into the design and construction.”

An example of the innovative construction is above you. The restaurant is entirely illuminated by LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which dim as sunshine enters the space. LEDs produce more light per watt than incandescent bulbs and last from 15 to 30 times longer. They are becoming a popular Christmas light; it is also the movement-sensor light in your computer’s mouse.

Payback on energy efficiency
Elsewhere in the Red Stag, there is salvaged material all around — booths, chairs, table tops, bar top, wood flooring and back bar. Dyson hand dryers are in the bathrooms. And there are differences completely out of sight of the customers, including an on-demand ventilation system in the kitchen.

Bartmann estimated that meeting the LEED rating changes cost 10 to 20 percent more than opening a “normal” place. Schoessler Lynn estimated a 14-month payback on the energy efficiency improvements.

Bartmann said her biggest challenges were finding the materials and educating the contractors as to what she wanted.

“Operating costs are the last frontier as far as I’m concerned in making restaurants profitable,” Bartmann said. “I won’t skimp on quality, and therefore price, of product as far as what people put in their mouths.” She will lower her light bill by 80 percent, her water use by 70 percent and other energies by 20 to 50 percent, she said. The restaurant also composts food remains and recycles other materials.

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