The new look of Brian’s Bar-b-q in Deland evokes an old-timey Western town straight out of “Gunsmoke.” But the facade hides innovations that are purely 21st century and that make the longtime barbecue business a more ecologically green one. In fact, the facade itself is part of the energy-saving scheme, but more on that in a moment.
Owner Brian Hill began the project with the simple intent to improve the building’s insulation. But it soon snowballed to a much more ambitious undertaking, and Hill’s original budget of $8000 grew to over $190,000 -- and counting. He expects the project to pay for itself in less than two years.
When Hill first started the project he learned that it wouldn’t make much sense to upgrade the insulation if he would still be losing heat and air conditioning through the inferior windows. And the air conditioning unit itself wasn’t exactly energy efficient. And the roof. And the lighting. And the landscaping. Now, more than a year after beginning, Hill’s efforts to remake his restaurant into one that consumes fewer resources, including water, are finally nearing completion.
Here are some of the things he’s done:
- Installed a new metal roof with an energy star rating. Beneath the roof is a thermal blanket that serves as insulation. The metallic surface reflects the sun’s UV rays. And overall, the roof has improved strength to stand up to wind shear.
- Extended the overhang on the roof as part of the new Western facade over the front of the building to decrease the amount of sunlight hitting the west-facing windows. And it had the added effect of increasing outdoor seating.
- To go with the Western exterior, Hill added xeriscape landscaping with cactus and native grasses, as well as decorative rocks. “They require very little water,” said Hill.
- Installed triple-pane, gas-filled windows and doors. “This probably made the biggest difference in the building,” said Hill. The new windows brightened the dining room and reduced outside noise “that I did not even realize was coming in.” The windows are also impact resistant, a feature that will save on insurance against “smash and grab” thefts and hurricane damage. In fact, Hill said he will not have to board up the windows in case of hurricanes.
- Added insulation and reflective coating on exterior walk-in coolers, as well as a reflective fence around the coolers that also hides them from view.
- Replaced the air conditioning unit with one with a higher efficiency rating.
There are plenty of changes inside, too, including:
- New - and fewer - light fixtures, either LED or compressed fluorescent bulbs that use less energy and produce less heat. And they last longer. Hill said he’s celebrating the restaurant’s 27th year in business and he may not have to change a light bulb for another 27 years.
- Low water usage fixtures in all the restrooms.
- A water separation device made by Viking Pure that takes the water and produces two separate liquids: one for degreasing and cleaning and one for sanitizing. “The two liquids are completely foodsafe and safe to touch,” said Hill, “but they enhance our ability to clean and sanitize while using ‘green technology’ and reducing our use of chemicals.”
Hill has made use of federal funds that were made available for private businesses through the City of Deland. Hill said that while he appreciates the rebates he also believes the process added to the project’s many delays and its final cost. “You’re bound by a federal bidding process,” he said of the rebate program, “and the people that bid on these projects realize there are burdensome paperwork requirements that go with them, and they build that into their quote.”
Hill said he also would advise others who undertake a project like this to consider their time. As an owner, he said, “you think your time is free, but you’re the most expensive person there.”
But the result is well worth the effort.
Scott Joseph is an internationally recognized restaurant critic, consultant and writer. He publishes Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide at ScottJosephOrlando.com. Follow the renovations online at www.facebook.com/briansbbq