What’s Behind the Success of Arby’s Energy Efficiency Program?

Indigo Teiwes

Celebrating Success: John Bowie – COO at Arby’s, Arby’s Store Manager Michael, Dr. Kathleen Hogan – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at DOE, Atlanta Reporter, Frank Inoa – Director of Engineering at Arby’s, Les Karel – SVP Indirect Sourcing and Distribution at Arby’s and Indigo Teiwes – Business Solutions Director at Ecova.

Last week I had the great personal honor to stand with one of our clients, Arby’s, as they accepted recognition from the Department of Energy for their flagship restaurant, which has achieved a 38 percent reduction in energy consumption. But that’s just scratching the surface of their success.


Back in 2012 Arby’s leadership had a vision of taking a strategic approach to energy management. Since their specialty was in roast beef, not in efficiency, they partnered with Ecova to leverage strategic insight from energy data and drive an energy program to produce results. Since that time, Arby’s has invested several million dollars in efficiency measures and made operational changes, all powered by data analytics and a strategic energy management framework, to achieve outstanding savings across its portfolio of almost 1,000 corporate owned restaurants in the U.S.


Arby’s efforts have resulted in $16.5 million in avoided energy and water costs since program implementation in 2013, plus $0.5 million in energy efficiency incentives from utilities across the nation, all while lowering energy and water consumption and associated environmental impacts – delighting management, shareholders, employees and customers alike!

And these savings will continue to grow. As the latest numbers reveal, Arby’s has, on average, achieved almost a 14 percent reduction in total energy use per company-owned restaurant since 2011. Further, as part of the Better Buildings Program, Arby’s has now committed to achieving a 20 percent reduction by 2020, driving savings to an even higher level.


While I won’t share Arby’s secret sauce recipe here, I will share the secret to the success of their Efficiency Matters program.

  1. Taking a Strategic Approach and involving Top Level Leadership: Leadership understands the importance of strategy, prioritization and the NPV of investments. Arby’s high profile treatment of its Efficiency Matters program, and close engagement of its executive team monitoring program investments and results, set the table for a high performing program.
  2. Cross Functional Engagement: One of the things most often overlooked about efficiency programs is that an energy program can’t happen in a silo. Programs are positioned to drive the best results when the stakeholders from different functional areas are invested in the program. Arby’s commitment to driving efficiency and reducing expenses has really been demonstrated through the broad engagement across the organization (finance, operations, design and development, training and communications, food safety and more), and this has been a key ingredient to the success of the Arby’s program.
  3. Outstanding Implementation: Broad adoption of an Efficiency Matters philosophy has been key in the organizational success – ensuring excellent execution of identified program elements (from team member training through to equipment installations), as well as enabling innovation in examining new opportunities to further improve efficiency.

Ecova is proud to work with a quarter of the fortune 500 companies, helping them manage energy and sustainability costs and impacts. Arby’s success is an outstanding example of what is possible when you tackle efficiency with data and insights to take action and drive powerful results through optimizing operations and investments.

Arby’s has been a great client to work with and has achieved truly outstanding results through a holistic Efficiency Matters program, improving energy and water efficiency and driving down costs. It was certainly a highlight of my career to be able to look back, three and a half years into the program, and see the success of Arby’s recognized by Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), DOE. Congratulations Frank Inoa, John Bowie, Scott Boatwright, Les Karel, Paul Brown and the entire Arby’s team.

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