Christine’s Tea Room

Final Presentation of the “Greening” Project
by Christine Chen -- April 24th, 2013

 
Our client, Biscuit Love, is a family-owned food truck business based in Nashville, Tennessee (I’ve mentioned them in my previous article, but the name was secret since the project was still in progress). Our role in this project was to provide a series of “greening” recommendations for the renovation of the food truck by the interior and exterior as well as the overall business model.
 

After numerous meetings and endless effort throughout the semester, today we presented our plan to “green” the Biscuit Love business. Starting with a broad research on the materials that can be applied to a food truck, we finally narrowed down the targets into five categories: refrigerator, fryer, range, utensils, and paint. Comparing the choices available in the market and considering Biscuit Love’s need and budget, we came up with gold, silver, and bronze standards that the client should meet, all differing in price, environmental impact, or energy efficiency.

The gold and silver options are biodegradable utensils that requires the least amount of time for decomposition and can lower the cost by $800~$1000 annually. However, to be noticed, only few municipal facilities have the special condition for bio-degradation. Without the special condition, they can only degrade as normal trash.

Our client had the problem of melting cups in the summer because (1) the working environment on a food truck in the summer is really hot, and (2) biodegradable cups that are made of PLA, a polyester derived from corn, usually have lower durable temperature (around 105 degree). Our recommendation is to use hot cups in the summer and cold cups in the winter. PLA is the major material for biodegradable products that few alternatives are in the market. Hot cups are durable at 312 degree and safer to use in the summer.

In fact, I am surprised by what we have accomplished – much more than expected – a well-written report with recommendations based on professional knowledge, good teamwork, and good interaction with our client.

Understanding our client’s need at an early stage has been very critical and good communication with the client helps things move forward more smoothly. At the beginning of the project, we only had the rough idea for the purpose of the project statement:  being “as green as possible.” For a food truck business, the plan ideas could be as crazy as “building solar panels throughout the food truck” (in fact, solar panels are extremely expensive for now, if we are using them, the given budget can support nothing else after solar panels) or “building up the system for diesel engine to run with biodiesel.” We wrote an e-mail to Mr. Karl Worley, the owner of Biscuit Love, who is kindly enough to be in contact with our group, to confirm with their priority on the “greening” project. It turned out that they want to focus on the appliances, exterior/interior decoration, and utensils; however, they showed high interest in understanding the cost of solar panels as well. It becomes clear then the direction we were going to which increased the efficiency in work dramatically. We kept a good communication with our client since then by replying e-mails fast and being straightforward about our thoughts. Luckily, our client responded us in the same way. However, sometimes they don’t.

 

In another project that I was involved in, the situation was the opposite. Communicating through e-mail, sometimes the client is slow to respond or forgets to respond because they were too busy, and sometimes we were not clear about the explanation given by the client but felt stupid or unprofessional if asking twice. These elements are lead to a “bad” or less efficient communication. It could be frustrating in this type of communication but I’ve learned how to deal with it from my program management class: identifying the type of personality as of D (dominance), I (influence) S (steadiness), or C (consciousness) and using a suitable way to treat them. Experiencing both good and bad communication with clients, I truly think I should work on maintaining the good ones more in the future.

Written on April 15, 2013, revised on April 24, 2013

1 Comment

  1. Tawnee
    Apr 25, 2013

    Congratulations on the conclusion of your project, Christine! Very cool that you were able to help green a food truck. I’m glad you had a great client who you could work with closely to illuminate the direction of your project – as you said, that can make all the difference!

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff