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Exploring the sustainability of the Barn Firoz, Tabassum; Kwan, Emily; Lo, Doris; Mak, Cynthia; Schnick, Karyn; Shum, Sally; Zu, Jia An 2002-04-03

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UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report       EXPLORING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE BARN Tabassum Firoz, Emily Kwan, Doris Lo, Cynthia Mak, Karyn Schnick, Sally Shum, Jia An Zu  University of British Columbia AGSC 450 April 3, 2002           Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.         EXPLORING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE BARN       AGSC 450 April 3, 2002  Group 12 Tabassum Firoz Emily Kwan Doris Lo Cynthia Mak Karyn Schnick Sally Shum Jia An ZuEXPLORING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE BARN   ABSTRACT The Barn Cof fee Shop is curr entl y losi n g mo ne y, thus threat ening its economi c sust ainabili t y.  Reco gniz ing that economi c sust aina bil it y is int erconnect ed with ec ological and so cial s ustainabil it y, we beli e ve that enhancin g the ecolo gic al and social sust ainabi li t y of the Barn will facil it at e improvements in econo mi c sust ainabili t y. Usin g past surve ys, condu cti ng ou r own surve ys, using web sit es and pe rsonal int e rv iews, we found that facu lt y and staff comprise the majority of the Barn’s customers, but that students are int erested in the up -com i ng chan ges.  Th ese chan ges include removal of t he grill and offering daily paninis and pastas, incorporating Tim Horton’s co ff ee and baking, and possi bl y fos tering a partne rship with the UBC farm.  We assessed sust ainabili t y throu gh in dicators such as am ount and t ype of waste, pro fits or loss es, and custom er sati sfacti on surve ys.  Through our stron g anthropo centric viewpoint , we recomm en d improving ecolo gical and social aspects of the Barn to improve the economi ca l sust ainabili t y.  Primar y recomm endati ons  i nclude: eli mi nati on of St yrofoa m, conversion to paper take - out containers, improved advertisi ng fo r special features, establi shment of a partnership with the UBC farm, and educati on of staff on sust ainabili t y iss ues.  Suggesti ons for future resea rch incl ude meas uring indi cators onc e renovati ons are compl ete and recomm endati ons are implemented to dete rmine their impa ct on economi c, ecolo gical and so cial sust ainabili t y of the Barn.    A. INTRODUCTION  The Barn Coff ee Shop is currentl y losi ng mon e y, which is threatenin g its economi c sust ainabili t y.  Acknowled g in g that eco nomi c sust ainabili t y is in terconne cted wit h ecolo gical and social sust ainabi li t y, we beli eve that addr essi ng th e economi c aspect alon e will not drasti call y impro ve the outcome.  We feel that by enhancin g ecolo gical and social sus tainabil it y of the Barn, improvements i n economi c sust ainabili t y will ensue.  There are s ever al issues directl y aff ecti n g the eco nomi c sit uati on of the Barn.  Competit ion wit h the nearb y Bread Garden has reduced s ales, and rising maint enance costs of agi ng equipm ent h ave incr e ased ex penses. 6  Combi ned with high labour costs and elevated levels of th eft, the costs of oper ati ng th e Barn ar e outweighin g the revenu e it gene rates. 6   Proposed renovati ons will replac e old equip ment and there fo re minim iz e maintenance costs , but wil l also alt er the variet y of foods off ered .  In addit ion, the consi de rati on of introducing Tim Horton’s brand name bev era ges and bakin g ma y att ra ct n ew custom ers, the reb y in creasin g revenue.   In line with attr acti n g ne w custom ers, improveme nts to the ecologic al sus tainabil it y of the Barn may enti ce the predomi nantl y environment -conscious agricult ur al scienc e studen ts from the neighbo rin g buil ding.  Although students compr ise approx im atel y twent y percent of the Barn’s market, 5  this percenta ge m a y be improved if ecolo gic all y friendl y improvements were mad e.  Some ex ampl es include: redu cing us e of St yrofoam plat es and minim iz ing the disposal of raw waste b y ini ti ati ng a compos ti ng s ystem.  Furth ermore, estab li shing a partnership with the UBC fa rm to offer their seasonal produ c e would be a major att ra c ti on for agricultural scien ce stude nts.  Therefor e, improvin g the ecolo gical sus taina bil it y of th e Barn ma y att ract new cli entele, provided that th ese ini ti ati ve s are suf ficie ntl y market ed.  This in turn wil l indirectl y improv e the economi c sust ainabili t y of the Barn.  Whil e att racti ng ne w cus tom ers is important, maint enance of pres ent clien tele is equall y so.  Th e majorit y of custom ers at the Barn ar e staff from pl ant operati ons 5 , and ther efore att enti on to their prefe renc es is essential for sust aini ng revenue.  St aff membe rs have ex pressed their desire for a qui e t atm osphere wh ere the y are able to sit and talk wit h peers. 3  The Barn’s upper level eating area atte m pts to meet this demand, howev er the effe cts of the new renovati ons on atm ospher e ma y impact this social sust ainabili t y.  Whil e the se renovati ons will aff ect both the space and th e styl e of th e Barn, the re wil l also be improvements to service.  Maintainin g custom er sati sfacti on is cruci al to the social sust ainabili t y of the Barn, and thus contribut es to economi c sust ainabili t y b y ensuring a conti nued sou rce of revenu e. B. UNDERLYING VALUE ASSUMPTIONS  From our resea rch, we le arned that UBC Food Se r vices is mainl y con cern e d with making the Barn economi c all y sust ainable . Since we ar e primaril y focusing on makin g the fo od service outl et econom icall y sust ainable by id enti f yin g pro fitable wa ys to mak e it ecolo gicall y and soci all y sust ainable, ou r grou p took a strong anthropocentric view. We feel that b y emp hasiz ing profit abil it y, we are mainl y fo cusing on human needs and int er ests . Furth ermore, our st ron g anthro pocentric valu e assum pti ons stem from the fact th at custom ers ar e an int e gr al part of the Barn and ar e ke y for social sus tainabil it y. Ther efor e, our group reco gniz ed the importanc e of custom er sati sfacti o n (and thus , custom er needs and int erests ) in main taining social sus tainabil it y.  Whil e we value human needs and int er ests , we als o feel that hum ans hav e a n ethi cal responsi bil it y fo r the natural world. Ou r gr oup feels that the natur al world has inher ent value and there fore, shoul d be respect ed. Since we prior it iz e human interests over that of the environment, we consi der ou rselves to be weakly ecocentric . Whil e renovati ons to the Barn will remove the grill improving the venti lation s ys tem, the waste mana gement s yst e m remains poor. 7  Reducing waste wil l not onl y minim iz e costs but it will also allow the Ba rn to be more ecol ogic all y sust ainabl e.  Our group agreed th at a sustainable oper ati on must be comm unit y-ori ented. Due to our community-based approa ch, we focu sed on social relations an d social structures at the Barn. Sinc e the Barn is l ocated at the south side of campus , it has disti nct custom er groups su ch a s Plant Ope rati ons staff and Applied Science students. We decided tha t b y ev aluating and achie ving custom er sati sfacti o n, improvements could be made to maint ain the present cl ientele.  By establi shing regul ar custom ers, th e Bar n would become a fami li ar meeti ng pla ce. Furthe rmore, our group agre ed tha t the geo graphic al locati o n of the Barn would be id eal for agricultural science students. This new clientele would further add to building the “community” at the Barn. B y buil ding a comm unit y, a sense of lo yalt y ma y be inst il led wit hin the custom ers.  Howeve r, we recogniz e the comm unit y  is not independent of pla ce and ec olog y.  By int roducin g UBC Fa rm produc e, we can buil d a strong conn ecti on to the universit y and establi sh a broader sense of comm unit y. As well , ke eping th e economi cal asp ect in mind, using local produ ce would keep mone y c ycli n g withi n the UBC locali t y.  C. EXPLORING SUSTAINABILITY In order to ex plore the su stainabil it y of the Barn, our group took a step -wis e approach. We began b y clearl y des cribin g our su bs ystem, choosi n g app ro priate methods of data co ll ecti on, sett ing economi cal, ecolo gical and so cial indi cators and fin all y, int e rpr eti ng our result s.   I. Description of the Subsystem In gener al, the Barn Coff ee shop is a food se rvice outl et locate d at the sout h end of campus . Althou gh the name impl ies it is a coffee shop, th e Barn actuall y se rves br eakf ast and lunch in addit ion to coffe e and snacks. In an al yz in g the Barn as a s ystem, we defi ned the four necess ar y as pects: Boundar y: Besides the ph ys ical bound ar y of the Barn, ou r boundari es included the producti on pro c ess.  In the producti on proc ess, we included the pro cessi ng, pr epar ati on, retail sal e and disposal of food ite ms.  Components:  The components involved include the ph ysic al setti ng of the Barn, th e custom ers (which include students, facult y members, and plant ope r ati on personnel), empl o yees, food (which includes the purchasin g, pro cessi n g, prepar ati on, and disposal) and environment. Inte ra cti ons Betw een the Assigned Com ponents: The foll owi ng int e racti ons can be obse rved:  P h ysical setti n g and cust omers  P h ysical setti n g and staf f  Food and custom e rs  Food and staf f  S taff and custom ers  Food and envi ronment  Goal: The main goal of the food servic e outl et, as we per ceive it, is to be pr ofit able. W e do not think that the Barn is conce rned with b eing ecolo gicall y friendly; howev er, we feel that it focuses on maint aini ng a strong social scene.  II. Methods of Data Collection Our group used sev er al methods of data coll e cti on. We conducted person a l inte rviews wit h Andrew Parr, directo r of UBC Fo od Services and La ura Lowr y, supervisor of th e Barn Coffe e Shop. We use d surve ys and past studi es as provi ded to us by the Agricult ural Science 450 t eachin g te am. In addit ion, we designed and conducted ou r own s ur ve y of Agricultural Sci ence students and sta ff. Our surve y was based on previous surve ys that wer e condu c ted to evaluate custom e r sati sfacti on. To learn abo ut waste mana gem ent an d sustainability at UBC, we used the university’s official web sites on these t opics.  III. Indicators Economi cal Sustainabil it y:  We consi der profit (or loss es) made b y the Bar n to be the indi cator for economi cal sus tainabil it y. Ecologic al Sustainabil it y:  To determi ne the ecologic al sus tainabil it y of the Barn, we fo cused on waste mana gement pr acti ces. We consi der the t ype of garba ge (such as rec yc la ble material) and th e nu mber of garba ge ba gs disposed of per da y to be the indi c at ors for wast e mana geme nt practi ces. Social Sustainabil it y:   R e cogniz ing th at custom ers are ke y, we consi d er cus tom er sati sfacti on to be the indi cator for soci al sus tainabil it y, which is measur ed through surve ys. IV. Findings Economi c Indicators:  Th e Barn has ex perien ced a net loss of $10,414 to date for the ye ar 2002. 5  The costs of labor and food ar e abo ve desirable levels, contri buti ng to the high ex penses fac ed b y the Barn. Ecologic al Indicato rs:  There are approx im atel y 55 0 custom ers per da y visi ti ng the Barn. 7   Around 7 bags o f garba ge ar e coll ected per da y. 8   Rec ycli n g bins fo r bott les and cans are pr esen t, however, unused ra w food, unsol d prepar ed food and table scraps are thro wn into the ga rba ge.  Used Styr o foam plates and cups, as well as paper coffee cups, are also discarded.  Although the Barn does support “One Less Cup,” a program promot ed by Waste Fr e e UBC to offe r discounts for custom ers usin g their own cups and cont ainers, it is not well advertised, and not widel y us ed.  S ocial Indic ators:   W e ha ve int erviewed 38 respon dents, which include facu lt y me mbers and prim aril y agricultural scien ce stude nts.  From our surve y, we have found th at all of the 38 respondents h ave heard of the Barn, but that 52% do not go to the Barn, mai nl y due to unapp eali n g in terior, long lineups, b ad meals and/or cost.  Some com ments/ recomm endati ons ge nerated in our su rve y incl ude che aper prices, mor e Asian food, and more advertisi ng of sp ecial featur es.  We found that the introduct ion of bett er re c ycli n g (in cludi ng a reducti on of St yrofo am ), a partn ership with the UBC fa rm, and off erin g Fair tr ade co ffe e would posit ivel y affect 52% if the respondents’ decisions to visit the Barn.  Furthermore 73% of the respondents said that the chan ge of menu items w ould entice them to the Barn.    T h e decisio n s of which foodserv i c e operati o n s students at tend is impo rtan t because more tha n ¾ of students eat on ca mp us at lea st 2-3 ti mes a week. 2 , 4  H o w e v e r ,  students co mprise onl y 20% of the Barn’s customers, with faculty members and plant operation personnel being the primary custo mers. 5   In additio n, students are spen din g less on lunch ($ 5-10/ week), and do not cons ider the Barn as a pl ace f or lun ch. 2 , 4   In previous surv e ys , custo mers have re quested mo re brand na me s and more variety (including Tim Horton’s ) , more nutrit i ou s food, ch eape r pricin g , more adve rt i s i n g , better custo mer serv ice , and fresher/ made -to - o rder f ood. 3 , 4   It is in respons e to th ese de mand s that the Barn is considering the incorporation of Tim Horton’s coff ee and baking, a s well as dai l y paninis and pasta speci als. 5  D. CONCLUSION  I. Central Findings  Presentl y, the major prob lem faced b y th e Barn is that it is losing more mone y th an it is gen erati n g. A major cause for the net loss in income is that it is subject to lar ge ex penses. 6  To make matters wo rse, incidents of theft furthe r drive up the food costs . 6   R enovati ons scheduled to take plac e in Ma y ar e tar get ed towards resolvi ng t he economi c probl ems. 5 , 6  In te rms of ecologi cal sust ainabili t y, a major fin ding is that a con cret e plan to reduc e and man a ge waste at the Barn do es n ot seem to ex ist   In fact, ther e onl y seems to be a minim al effort gea red to wards rec ycli n g. 7 , 8   While the Barn has disti nct cu stom er gr oups, in order to be sociall y sust ainable th e Barn must maint ain its present clientele as well as att ract new custom e rs. Th e majorit y of the custom er s at the Barn ar e fa cult y members and plant ope ra ti on personnel, not students. 5  Onl y around 20% of students frequentl y visi t the Ba rn and want to spend less mone y for me als. 2  Furtherm ore, surve ys show that the Ba rn was not a recomm end ed place for lunch. 3 , 4   II. Recommendations  Based on ou r findi n gs, we propose a set of recom mendati ons to make the Barn mor e sust ainable economi call y, ecolo gic al l y and so ciall y. 1. Improv e the cu rrent waste mana gem ent s ystem  W hil e we reco gniz e that the Ba rn must rel y on disposable tablewa re, we recomm end that the use of St yrofoam b e eli mi nated.   W hil e we are awar e that UBC Waste Mana gemen t, does not rec ycl e pape r ware, 1 1  we feel that usi ng paper plates, wrapp ers an d box es are more ecologi call y friendl y.    Furthermo re, students pe rceive f ood in St yrofo am as stale or mass produ ce d and environmentall y unfriendl y, and would pr efer paper pl ates. 3   The Barn should empl o y the Paper Reduction Tool Box, developed b y the S ustainabil it y Offic e at UBC. 1 0 B    As well , we recomm end that the Ba rn compos ts ra w food wastes. For ex am ple, the Pendulum Restaurant at the Student Union Buil ding compos ts 5 gall ons of fruit and ve getable wa ste per da y usin g two back yard bins. 1 1   2.  Offe r unique speci ali t y items to make the Ba rn dist inct from other outl ets  If people do not se e an y reason to go to the Barn instead of other outl ets, th en the Barn mi ght not maintain its present clien tele or att ra ct the new cu stom ers that it needs.  W hil e a unique feature of the Barn is that it provides break fast, it has not be en as succ essful as ex pec ted in attracti ng custom ers.   Offe ring the proposed pa nini s and pastas post -ren ovati ons will add to specialt y items avail abl e.  W e recomm end that the Barn cat e r to the diffe ren t ethnic groups and thus , ethi c dishes could serv e as addit ional specialit y item s. The Br ead Gard en doe s not serve ethi c dishes, t herefo re thi s would provi de the Ba rn wit h a competit ive ed ge.  3. Form a partnership wit h the UBC Farm   A partnership with the UBC Fa rm would be effe cti ve in drawin g in agricult ural scienc e students, furt her adding to the cli entele of the Barn.  Using loc al produce wou ld also all ow the Ba rn to serve se asonal items and would enrich the sel ecti o n of specialit y items .  A partnership with the Fa rm would establi sh a strong conn ecti on with the universit y and m a y inst il a sense of lo yalt y withi n custom ers.  The partne rship would al low mone y to c yc le wit hi n UBC.        4. Use more adv ertisi ng  W e feel that the Barn do es a poor job of advertisi ng. Man y people are misled by its name (The Ba rn Coffee S hop).   W e recomm end that the outl et use signs and post e rs across the campus to let the publi c know of the items it offers. A sim ple yet eff ecti ve idea would be t o place a sandwich boa rd ou tsi de the facil it y that lists dail y spe cials.   Furthermore, if brand name coffee like Tim Horton’s or UBC Farm Produ ce ar e off er ed, these feat ures shoul d be thoroughl y adv ertised.   5. Educate empl o ye es ab out sustainabil it y   Man y people are not ev e n sure what sus tainabil it y means. 1 1  By edu cati n g empl o yees throu gh s emi nars, staff wil l become awa re of the conc ept.   S ustainabil it y in an y sense (li ke economi c al/ ecolo gic al/ social) will be more easil y achiev ed if each member of the sta ff and workfor ce at the Barn made dail y contribut ions ge ared towa rds improving quali t y a nd sust ainabili t y of the Barn in the lon g run.  III. Future Research Questions and Recommendations   Whil e our group has att e mpt ed to answer as man y resea rch questi ons as po ssi ble, we gene rated a lis t of future re sea rch qu esti ons and recomm end ati ons. 1. The impact of renovati ons   Have the renovati ons ma de a posi ti ve impact econ omi call y, sociall y and/or environmentall y?    Has the incidenc e of the f t decre ased?  Have the renov ati ons cut down on the costs ? (e.g. does the new equipm ent cut down on ene r g y costs and ex pendit ures? )  Have the numbe rs of cust omers chan ged afte r the renovati ons wer e made?   Are custom ers sati sfied with the chan ges that tak e place afte r renov ati ons?  2. Evaluate wast e mana gement practi c es  Have ne w strate gies been implemented?  Is the re a redu cti on in amount of waste dispos ed?  3. Ex ami ne the degr ee of partnership fo rmed with UBC Farm and wh ether i t has been ben eficial  Has the partn ership att ra cted new custo mers?  Is the re an in cre ase in revenue?  4. Perform demo gr aphic surve ys  How has the cli entel e ch anged since the renov ati ons?  If our recomm endati ons have be en implemented, have the y affe cted the t ype or number of cli ents?  REFERENCES 1.  Brown, L. Bu yin g More Loc al and Or ganic Food: Predicting the Cost s and Bene fits for the Alma Mater Societ y Foo d Services . Van couve r: The Alma Mater Soci et y Impacts Comm it tee, 2001.   2.  Far rell Resea rch Group. UBC Food Se rvices: A S urve y of Food on Campu s . Vancouve r: Fa rrell Research Group, 1996.  3.  Far rell Resea rch Group. UBC Food Se rvices Mini -groups Ex ploring Custom er Needs: A Summ ar y Report . Vancouv er: Farr ell Research Group 1996.   4.  Far rell Resea rch Group. UBC Food Se rvices . Van couver: Farr ell Resea rch Group, 2000.   5.  P ersonal Intervie w wit h Andrew Par r, Dire ctor of UBC Food Se rvices, Va ncouver, BC, Mar ch 11, 2002.  6.  P ersonal Intervie w wit h Andrew Par r, Dire ctor of UBC Food Se rvices, Va ncouver, BC, Mar ch 13, 2002.  7.  P ersonal Intervie w wit h Lau ra Low r y, Supervisor of The Barn, Vancouv e r, BC, March 11, 2002.  8.  P ersonal Intervie w wit h Lau ra Low r y, Supervisor of The Barn, Vancouv er, BC, March 27, 2002.  9.  UBC Food Se rvices. Five-Ye ar Business Plan . Vancouver: UBC Food Serv ices, 2001.  10.  UBC Sustainabil it y Offic e - Land and Buil din g Ser vices. htt p:/ /www.sust .        Access ed: March 27, 2002.  11.  UBC Waste Mana gemen t. htt p:/ /www.wastefree.u . Acc essed: Mar ch 30, 2002.                       


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