Uncommon Ground Catches Rays With New Solar Panels

By Patty Wetli | Monday, February 6, 2012

Uncommon Ground ranked first and second greenest restaurants in U.S. Credit: Flickr/arnoldinuyaki

OK, Uncommon Ground, now you’re just showing off. The Lakeview location, 3800 N. Clark St., already rated the second greenest restaurant in the U.S. (trailing only Uncommon Ground Devon), just took possession of a new set of solar panels. Does that make it more greenest?

According to Matthew Shores, sustainability manager for Uncommon Ground Clark Street, the solar panel array is the same configuration as at Devon, measuring approximately 200 square feet. Installed on the southwest corner of the building, it will be used to heat water.

“The solar panels are part of considering our overall energy usage and attempting to decrease our impact in that area,” said Shores. “The current projections estimate that we will be able to heat 300 gallons of water a day using this system. This is an energy offset of about 800 therms per year and an emissions savings of 9,400 pounds of CO2 per year. As with most solar systems, the array should save money in the long run, as well as helping to lower our overall carbon footprint.”

With its Clark and Devon locations now on equal solar footing, you’d think Uncommon Ground would kick back and take a breather, but no. “We are always looking for ways to move forward. There are always more things that can be done in terms of sustainability,” Shores said. Uncommon Ground is continually assessing its use of resources and materials, such as paper for menus, chemicals for sanitation and cleaning, and water usage in all areas of the restaurant.

The question is, does this emphasis on eco-friendliness translate into a different kind of green, as in greenbacks, moolah, cashola?
“I think it would be safe to assume that it has,” said Shores. “While not every person is focused solely on sustainability, most people want to make a positive impact on their world, and making sustainable choices in dining can help with that. When guests come in, we hope they realize they are an important part of our effort and that they can take pride in their choice to dine with us. But obviously our sustainability is not the only factor in our business, and the guests wouldn’t come if they didn’t enjoy the food, the drinks and the overall ambiance we try to create. In the end, we want people to feel like they are making a good choice and having a good time.”

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