Red Stag Supper Club, Minneapolis, proves a whisper can be as inspirational as a bold statement. Sustainable technology and features are so expertly woven into this authentic Northwoods dining destination that locavores savoring the fresh, flavorful Midwestern dishes prepared from organic and locally purchased ingredients may not notice the restaurant’s state-of-the-art resource-conservation measures or its low-to-no environmental-impact furnishings, finishes and materials. However, an exhibit installed in Red Stag Supper Club’s lobby describes the sustainable aspects of the restaurant’s design, construction and operations for those interested in these details.

  • Credit: ERIC MELZER

“Restaurants provide a great opportunity to connect people with sustainability,” says Kim Bartmann, the supper club’s owner. “They are the public places most like your home. Customers who enjoy a delicious meal in a comfortable, sustainable setting can relate what they’ve experienced to the impact of their daily decisions on the environment.”

Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, ASID, CID, LEED AP, cofounder and principal of Minneapolis-based Studio 2030, was Red Stag Supper Club’s lead interior designer and seconds Bartmann’s sentiments. “Designers, by necessity or intent, used to make sustainability obvious. That’s no longer the case. We weighed beauty, style and innovation equally to accomplish Kim’s vision.”

A TEAM APPROACH

Bartmann already had implemented sustainable business practices at the two hip urban eateries she owns in the Uptown District of Minneapolis. When she began planning to open a supper club, she decided to “go beyond buying local products, using fluorescent light bulbs and purchasing paper goods with recycled content” to address sustainability earlier—during design and construction. As soon as she found a vacant warehouse in northeast Minneapolis, she knew its heavy timber and brick interior would be perfect for the concept she had in mind.

“I’m a born scrapper,” Bartmann says. “I knew this space would allow me to apply my penchant for salvaging stuff to make the build-out affordable.” The fact that the warehouse was located near major bus routes and along popular pedestrian and bicycle paths also appealed to her.

Bartmann knew that bringing team members together early and often would optimize the performance of the restaurant’s sophisticated systems while ensuring these blended well with the warm and welcoming design. In early 2007, Bartmann met Bill Bieganek, owner of Chaska, Minn.-based Energy Misers LLC, a consulting engineering firm that develops custom resource-conservation solutions for commercial and institutional facilities. “A lot of companies can sell you resource-saving equipment,” she says. “Bill knows how to make all the pieces work together and relate to everything else going on in a restaurant. Up to 40 percent of my occupancy costs are from utilities and waste. Reducing these costs by double digits significantly increases my chance for success.” Bieganek researched and recommended equipment, modeled potential for resource and cost savings, and confirmed compliance with performance specifications.

Bartmann, Schoessler Lynn and Bieganek, as well as other core team members met every Thursday from mid-June to November 2007 to brainstorm, resolve challenges and coordinate their efforts. “This fully integrated, design-build approach was essential to the success of the project,” Schoessler Lynn notes. “We all learned a lot from each other.”

LESS YIELDS MORE

Focusing on reducing consumption and waste unified team efforts. Bieganek began by researching resource-conservation options for kitchen systems and equipment because these consume more than half the energy and water used by restaurants.

“Hood systems typically account for 75 percent of a commercial kitchen’s HVAC load because they run 100 percent of the time,” he says. “The hoods installed in Red Stag’s kitchen will reduce energy costs by thousands of dollars each year because they have variable-speed exhaust fans and only operate when cooking is underway.”

Smart devices and equipment extend resourceconservation and waste-reduction measures to all areas of the restaurant. Photo or occupancy sensors and timers relate lighting and equipment use to specific needs and hours of operation. High-efficiency dishwashers and pre-rinse sprayers in the kitchen; dual-flush toilets, micro-flush valves and no-touch faucets in the bathrooms; and tankless water heaters and low-flow sink aerators reduce water consumption to one-third of what comparably sized restaurants use.

Extensive use of salvaged items also decreased the amount of energy and raw materials needed to produce new products while adding authenticity to Red Stag Supper Club’s interiors. The bar base and its marble top, flooring, dining booths and light fixtures were saved and refurbished. Unused doors from a nearby development were converted into tabletops. A local distributor had just enough Reston, Va.-based Forest Stewardship Council-certified douglas-fir veneer left to panel the dining area.

STRIKING A BALANCE

The project is seeking Gold LEED for Commercial Interiors certification from the Washington D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council. LEED offers points for specifying products that reduce waste in a variety of ways. While Red Stag Supper Club easily achieved the maximum points for using salvaged items, this strategy limited opportunities to earn LEED points for using products with recycled or renewable content. However, Schoessler Lynn found a richly colored carpet tile for the dining room that can be recycled and contains recycled content and polylactic fiber, a derivative of corn that is rapidly renewable. The carpet tile and tin ceiling in the food preparation areas also have some recycled content.

Credit: ERIC MELZER

Incorporating salvaged items also posed new design challenges, according to Schoessler Lynn. “Kim found the dark-wood back-bar that was ideal for a Northwoods-style supper club. Later, when she purchased some reclaimed wood flooring, this not only had to relate to the bar and other interior design elements, it had to be refinished in accordance with LEED criteria.” Thus the team had to find a low-VOC stain, and dust caused by sanding had to be captured or exhausted from the work area.

Credit: ERIC MELZER

One of the most understated yet innovative aspects of Red Stag Supper Club’s design is its creative blend of daylighting and leading-edge illumination technology. Red Stag Supper Club is one of the first U.S. facilities to be fully lit with light-emitting diodes, which use 10 to 20 percent of the electricity required by incandescent bulbs, last longer than fluorescent sources, don’t contain mercury and produce very little heat. Windows line the main walls of the dining room to the north and east, providing exterior views for 90 percent of this space and allowing natural light to travel deep into the interiors during the daytime. These features along with other energy-efficient measures should decrease the supper club’s energy use to less than half that required by comparably sized restaurants.

Red Stag Supper Club is one of the first U.S. facilities to be fully lit with light-emitting diodes.

Red Stag Supper Club is one of the first U.S. facilities to be fully lit with light-emitting diodes.

Credit: ERIC MELZER

Bartmann is happy with the energy savings and aesthetics. “I didn’t want this restaurant looking like a giant fluorescent light bulb,” she says. Bieganek found warm-colored LED sources. He also helped Bartmann implement her idea of running LED strip lights along wood channels to bounce light off the ceiling and cast a pleasant glow over the dining room.

CLOSING THE LOOP

As construction began in June 2007, Bartmann tested commercial-composting strategies aimed at sending “zero waste” to the city’s incinerator or a local landfill. All items used to prepare and serve food had to be reusable or compostable—from utensils, plates and napkins to cups, straws and garbage bags. Bartmann learned she’d need a special dumpster for composting and that compostable supplies are much more expensive than traditional products used by restaurants.

Credit: ERIC MELZER

Nevertheless, Bartmann enrolled Red Stag Supper Club as one of the first businesses to participate in a commercial-composting pilot program developed by Eureka Recycling, Minneapolis. In the future, she plans to use vegetable-oil waste collected at her restaurants as fuel for a company truck.

PRESERVING THE BEST ENERGY

Red Stag Supper Club officially opened for business in November 2007. After a payback period of 12 to 18 months, its utility costs should decline by thousands of dollars each month.

Credit: ERIC MELZER

“These savings touch every aspect of my business, from the quality of food we can purchase and serve to staff compensation, work and dining environments, and overall profitability,” Bartmann says.

She finds the intangible attributes of Red Stag Supper Club equally important. “There’s something about the energy that went into creating this place that’s stayed here. That makes it unique.”

GREEN TEAM

INTERIOR DESIGNER / Studio 2030 Minneapolis, www.studio2030.com

ENERGY CONSULTANT / Energy Misers LLC, Chaska, Minn., www.energymisers.biz

PERMITTING / Walsh Bishop Associates, Minneapolis, www.walshbishop.com

CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT / Jeffrey Swainhart, LEED AP, Swainhart Construction Services LLC, Minneapolis, www.swainhart.com

MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEER AND COMMISSIONING AGENT / Dunham Associates, Minneapolis, www.dunhamassociates.com

GENERAL CONTRACTOR / WonderWoman Construction LLC, Minneapolis, www.wonderwomanconstruction.com

COMMERCIAL COMPOSTING / Eureka Recycling, Minneapolis, www.eurekarecycling.org

MATERIALS & SOURCES

• CARPET TILE / INTERFACE, Atlanta, www.interfaceinc.com

• FLOOR TILE / DAL-TILE CORP., Dallas, www.daltile.com

• WALL TILE / ROYAL MOSA, www.mosa.nl

• LIGHT-EMITTING DIODES / ALBEO TECHNOLOGIES, Boulder, Colo., www.albeotech.com

• LED CAN LIGHTS / PERMLIGHT, Tustin, Calif., www.permlight.com

• LED MR-16 BULBS FOR TRACK LIGHTING / Color Kinetics by PHILIPS, Burlington, Mass., www.colorkinetics.com

• OCCUPANCY SENSORS AND TIMERS / WATTSTOPPER, Santa Clara, Calif., www.wattstopper.com

• KITCHEN HOODS / MELINK INTELLI-HOODS, Milford, Ohio, www.melinkcorp.com

• INDUCTION COOKTOP / DIVA DE PROVENCE, Toronto, www.divadeprovence.com

• DUAL-FLUSH TOILETS / CAROMA USA, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, www.caromausa.com

• URINAL, FLUSH VALVES AND NO-TOUCH FAUCETS / TOTO USA, Morrow, Ga., www.totousa.com

• HAND DRYERS / DYSON AIRBLADE, Chicago, www.dysonairblade.com

• IN-LINE ELECTRIC TANKLESS HOT-WATER HEATERS / EEMAX, Oxford, Conn., www.eemaxinc.com

• TANKLESS WATER HEATERS / RINNAI AMERICA, Peachtree City, Ga., www.rinnai.us

• FAUCET AERATORS AND PRE-RINSE VALVES / NIAGARA CONSERVATION, Cedar Knolls, N.J., www.niagaraconservation.com

• UPHOLSTERY / DESIGNTEX, New York, www.dtex.com

• CERTIFIED WOOD / CERTIFIED WOOD PRODUCTS, Maple Lake, Minn., www.certifiedwood.net