Fiddler's Hearth taking steps to reduce energy use

South Bend, Ind. You may not notice the green efforts right away when you walk into Fiddler's Hearth in downtown South Bend. But they are there, and owner Carol Meehan is very excited about the impact she is making.

Carol says that restaurants are one of the biggest users of energy and resources, and from the start, she wanted to find a way to reduce their energy usage, and their impact on the environment.

"Everything back then obviously with to go products was the styrofoam clamshell containers and even though we were cash poor at the time because we just opened we knew that there were little things that we could do to make a difference,” Carol said.

So she found containers made of recycled materials. From there she found these cups that are made from corn. They are used at outdoor events and end up the trash, but because they are 100% biodegradable, they will break down quickly.

When equipment needed to be replaced, "green" options were chosen, such as waterless urinals in the men's room. Carol estimates that they've saved around 60 thousand gallons of water a year.

And when they added a small bathroom in the back of the building, they put in a toilet that uses gray water. When you wash your hands, the water drains from the sink into the toilet tank and is used to flush the toilet. That pretty much cuts water usage in half.

When the roof needed to be repaired, Carol had high hopes of going solar, but the tall buildings nearby were a problem. So, they chose a very insulating material. But she still has high hope for that roof:

"My goal eventually would be to actually turn it into a green roof. But we may have to look at adding support structure to the building to make sure it can bear the load because I'd love to have herb gardens and vegetable gardens up there, and even have seating for customers up there have an outdoor rooftop/garden dining area."

The cost of more "green" equipment may seem daunting, but the cost benefit is well worth it. Carol feels confident that her improvements have not only helped her business be more green, but have attracted more frequent customers as well. And that makes everything more green.

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