Big improvements in efficiency would be requiredMost of the focus of the report covers improved efficiencies for two of the biggest energy users in a typical McDonald’s restaurant: the kitchen and HVAC equipment. Hitting net-zero performance would require, for starters, a 60 percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to an “already efficient” U.S. prototype restaurant design from 2013.Other conclusions:After efficiency upgrades, the restaurants would be able to provide all of their power on-site with a 300 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system installed over the building and the parking area.A combination of more efficient equipment and PV would reduce energy costs to between 5 percent and 15 percent of current average use.Most of the capital costs needed for the switch would go to PV.One of the biggest challenges would be reducing or eliminating standby energy use, the energy used by appliances when they are not actually cooking anything, according to Don Fisher of Fisher Nickel, a technology research company in the commercial food service industry.McDonald’s says there are a number of steps ahead, including more study and the possibility of designing and building a pilot net-zero restaurant to test new technologies.The company didn’t announce any particular timetable. Walgreens has a net-zero energy drugstore, and now McDonald’s Corporation is wondering whether it, too, might reap the energy and PR rewards of a similar effort.The world’s largest restaurant chain brought in the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to help it study the possibility of net-zero outlets in three U.S. cities. Although the company isn’t promising anything immediate, it said that net-zero operation was feasible even without changes to its menu or service, an announcement prepared by the institute said. Of course, each restaurant would require a huge PV array — one rated at 300 kilowatts — to make it happen.Although the study is intended to help restaurants globally, researchers studied three specific cities — Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C; and Orlando, Florida — specifically to see how net-zero performance could be coaxed out of restaurants with big, busy kitchens and serious HVAC systems.“The study demonstrates that for high-energy-intensity building types, such as restaurants, every single piece of energy-using equipment must be examined as part of the system,” said RMI’s Stephen Doig. “There’s plentiful opportunity to optimize and reduce energy use without compromising the consistency and quality of the end products.”
At a public hearing on Constitution Day on Tuesday, a group of human rights lawyers in Shivpuri placed on the District Collector’s table jars containing human excreta and sewage samples in protest against “inaction” over repeated complaints of manual scavenging in the district. They demanded punishment for officials and protective gear for sewer cleaners.The practice of manual scavenging, they claimed, continued unabated at three locations in the city — behind Vidyadevi Hospital, near Jal Mandir and behind PWD quarters. “The safai karamcharis are engaged in removing human excreta which flows from homes and into open drains by the side of the road,” read a memorandum submitted to the District Collector.Report not submittedDuring a visit to the district on September 19, the State Human Rights Commission had asked the Collector to submit a report within 15 days on manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning of sewers. The report hasn’t been submitted yet.“On Samvidhan Diwas (Constitution Day) and in the light of the spirit of the Constitution and the rights it provides to the most marginalised”, the lawyers demanded an FIR against officials responsible, identification of manual scavengers, survey of insanitary latrines and distribution of safety equipment to sewer cleaners within a fortnight.Heeding the demands at the meeting, H.P. Verma, CEO, zila panchayat, directed the Municipal Council and the Public Health Engineering Department to act within 15 days to put an end to the practice in the district and provide protective gear to sewer cleaners.“The workers are not cleaning drains with bare hands but using equipment,” District Collector Anugraha P. told The Hindu. “In any case, they are not removing excreta but cleaning drains. There needs to be a behavioural change to end this practice, which may take time,” she said.During a visit to Shivpuri last month, The Hindu had found a worker behind the PWD quarters removing human excreta using a shovel in an open drain. All sanitation workers in the city belong to the Mehtar community. While 15 men are tasked with clearing drains clogged with human excreta, carcasses and polythene bags, 35-40 women spruce up the streets.“It’s not about provision of equipment to manual scavengers. It’s about ending the practice by closing open drains and creating septic tanks, and rehabilitating the workers,” said Abhay Jain, one of the lawyers.