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Dosa Restaurant Harnesses Sun, Savings

Credits: ©2010 Dosa Restaurant

Dosa Restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area offered tea and cookies to visitors on Solar Day in June 2010 to show off its super-green restaurant that uses 10 Heliodyne Gobi 410 solar thermal collectors, and a 580-gallon storage tank in an active closed loop solar system. Some of its other eco-initiatives include recycled content glass tile for the bar tops and faces, FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council) and non-PVC materials, bamboo flooring, energy-efficient HVAC and kitchen equipment, remote refrigeration, complete window tinting that saves 4.6 tonnes in heating requirements, water-conserving low-flow appliances and intelligent energy-management hoods. DOSA is an Indian restaurant with a holistic commitment to primarily organic, bio-dynamic and sustainable ingredients and products, so the green environment is an extension of this clean living, clean eating philosophy. The restaurant owners, Emily and Anjan Mitra, renovated the building using green practices from the ground up by making a significant commitment not just to eco-friendly materials, but also to all appliances and processes. Some of its many green and sustainable design elements include:


Dosa Restaurant Interior

All interior paints at Dosa Restaurant in San Francisco are low-VOC, low-odor formulas that have a washable finish in any sheen, quick dry-time, and seamless touch-up - and therefore long-lasting. ©2010 Dosa Restaurant


* Energy-star rated equipment was used wherever available.

* All refrigeration equipment is on remote condensers located on the roof instead of self-contained units. The reduction in heat generated within the space reduces the cooling load and resultant energy usage.

* State-of-the-art condensers have computerized monitoring systems and time clocks to limit cycling during non-peak use times.

* Where applicable, equipment was specified to operate at the higher voltage (hence fewer amps or actual flow of electricity) for greater efficiency and overall energy savings.


* Ultra-high efficient equipment for heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) of the space. Units are controlled by an "intelligent" computer system which links all three HVAC units together and monitors their demand, ensuring that they are working in tandem to be most efficient.

* Window tinting is applied to the existing windows to reduce heat gain during the day as well as reduce heat loss at night. The resultant energy savings allowed a reduction of nearly 20% or 4.6 TONS of HVAC requirements.

* The exhaust system for the hoods in the kitchen has an Energy Management System (EMS) that registers the heat load under each hood and adjusts the exhaust and make-up air fan speeds accordingly. EMS allows for maximized energy savings versus a fan running on high speed during the same period.


* An integrated dimming system on all light fixtures ensures the appropriate level of lighting is maintained on a daily basis.

* Light fixtures throughout the space use florescent, CFL or LED lamps where applicable.

* The lay-out of equipment on the roof was designed to allow for solar photovoltaics, and an inverter was installed along with conduit from the main electrical service panel to the roof for a future solar installation.


* A solar water heating system feeds a 580-gallon holding tank.

* All faucets and flush valves are below the requirements for low-flow rates set by City and State ordinances.

* "Touchless" faucets are installed at all restroom lavatories.

* A "waterless" system in the men's bathroom saves over 4,000 of gallons of water per year.


* Booths, banquettes and custom sofas are constructed with FSC-certified wood for their framework.

* Furniture coverings are made with non-PVC ,high-performance "technology leathers" by Joseph Noble that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that are normally found in most vinyl-based products. They use environmentally friendly raw materials during production, and emit no toxic gas when burned or buried after use.

* With abrasion ratings exceeding 100,000 double rubs - more than 3 times the 30,000 double rubs required for a "heavy duty upholstery" rating - the materials specified will have an exceedingly long life span.

* Booth and banquette backs were upholstered in fabric that is manufactured without creating water pollution such as occurs in conventional dying, and no additional energy was consumed to achieve color. It also exceeds the "heavy duty" abrasion rating by 5 times with no wear visible after 150,000 double rubs.

* Additional custom sofa seating is upholstered in high-performance faux leather which is PVC-free, non-toxic and made from renewable or recyclable materials.

* Table tops, as well as all custom cabinetry and millwork, is fabricated locally using Durapalm plywood made from plantation grown coconut palms which are no longer producing nuts, plus FSC-certified cherry wood trim.

* Low-VOC finishes are used to provide clean and durable surfaces.

* The communal table is custom-made locally using reclaimed timbers.


* Porcelain tile flooring used throughout the dining/bar/lounge areas was produced in a closed-loop process that recycles 100% of raw material and water wastes. The polishing factory reclaims residue from polishing process. Material is fired into a durable ingredient for highway paving. All water from polishing factory is recycled back to the production line.

* The porcelain contains no added VOC's. With the proper use and maintenance, these materials help reduce overall off-gassing in efforts to meet strict interior air quality standards.

* No sealants or waxes are required. (Most quarried stones must be sealed and waxed to maintain appearance).

* Tile in the employee bathroom is made from 40% recycled ceramic.

* The bamboo flooring is suited for high-traffic areas with hardness twice that of red oak. It is 100% bamboo with no fillers and is urea-formaldehyde-free containing no VOC's.

* Storage, office, and employee rooms have linoleum flooring throughout, made of renewable raw materials like linseed oil, resin, wood flour, cork flour and jute.

* Rubber cove base and stair treads are made from 100% renewable rubber and are PVC free.

* No-VOC epoxy flooring/wall coatings are used throughout back-of-house areas for a clean durable finish. Unlike typical epoxy coatings or fiberglass-reinforced panels (FRP), these eco-friendly epoxy formulas will not off-gas or contribute to VOC's in the interior environment.

Finishes & Coverings:

* All interior paints are low-VOC, low-odor formulas. It has a washable finish in any sheen, quick dry-time, and seamless touch-up - and therefore long-lasting.

* Wallcoverings are breathable, PVC-free, non-toxic and made from renewable or recyclable materials.

* Cabinetry/millwork was fabricated locally using Durapalm plywood and/or FSC certified cherry wood. Low-VOC finishes are used to provide clean and durable surfaces.

* All metalwork was fabricated locally, including water-jet cut panels at railings. Besides being extremely durable, they are 100% recyclable at the end of their lifetime. Other railing panels are comprised of ecoresin made from a minimum of 40% post-industrial recycled PETG.

* Bar counter tops are custom terrazzo made from recycled glass, mirrors, mother-of-pearl, and low-VOC resins.

* Other counter tops are made from 100 percent recycled content - paper and cement - to create hard, durable surfaces.

* The glass tile on the face of the service bar contains up to 86 percent recycled content from curbside recycling programs.

* The acoustic ceiling, while contributing to a less stressful environment by reducing noise levels, contain up to 82 percent recycled content and the suspension system contains 30 percent recycled content - the highest percentage of post consumer content in the industry.

* Stainless steel restroom accessories are used throughout - long lasting and recyclable - including super-efficient automatic hand dryers, saving paper and energy year round.


* All materials removed from the space were recycled as permissible.

Construction: * Where possible, all new wood framing including plywood for shear walls is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.

* Non-structural wall and ceiling elements were framed using metal studs which use less material, have a very long lifecycle and are completely recyclable at the end of their useful life.


Relevant books:
Solar Hot Water
Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide
Planning and Installing Solar Thermal Systems



  Solar Thermal Sizing for Heliodyne Gobi Collectors (53 kb)

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Dosa Restaurant San Francisco