What is in this article?:
- The latest trends in restaurant equipment efficiency
- Kitchen of the future
Heat recovering ware-washing systems and lighting technology help reduce energy costs and increase efficiency.
Operators trying to lower energy or water usage and increase efficiency should consider equipment such as heat recovering ware-washing systems and newer lighting technology, according to Food Service Technology Center engineers.
The FSTC in San Ramon, Calif., recently marked its 25th year as a lab for testing the energy efficiency, water efficiency and performance of foodservice kitchen appliances and ventilation systems.
“It took the first 25 years to build the foundation and get to the starting line. The next 25 should see us moving forward,” Richard Young, FSTC senior engineer and director of education, said of the organization’s evolution. “We study both energy and water efficiency, and performance, because there is no way you are going to tell someone in foodservice to use something that does not perform well,” Young added.
The FSTC, along with Southern California Edison Technology Test Center and the Southern California Gas Energy Resource Center, has provided much of the test data used by the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program and the California Energy Wise equipment rebate program. Both of those programs develop specifications for and encourage the use of energy-efficient commercial foodservice equipment.
Ratepayers of Northern California’s PG&E public utility fund the center and its 10,000-square-foot lab, which is administered by that utility under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission and operated by Fisher-Nickel Inc.
Young and David Zabrowski, a fellow engineer and a “kitchen of the future” student, recently spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about what equipment is driving energy, water and money saving in kitchens and restaurant facilities.
How can restaurateurs improve the efficiency of their operations?
Young: Purchase energy efficient appliances, such as those you can find through Energy Star and California's Energy Wise.
Zabrowski: We’re not suggesting that operators take out working pieces of equipment, but when the time comes to replace equipment or buy new equipment, the information is there to make smart purchases.
Young: Exceptions to that might be made for older holding cabinets and steamers.
The use of newer lighting technologies, such as compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED), has been cited by the FSTC and others as a smart efficiency play for restaurateurs. Is that still true?
Young: Yes. Doing some lighting retrofits can reduce energy consumption and make a quick return on investment. Buy it in pieces and try it in advance [of a full installation].
A lot of LED products are becoming more mainstream, but we do say “buyer beware” because it is a relatively new industry with a lot of people selling products that won’t look good in a restaurant or last [as long as claimed]. The trick is to look for mainstream brands and try them out to see if you like the lamps.
Compact fluorescents are still very cost effective and can be put in places where they won’t be argued about [for ambience or food illumination reasons], such as in exhaust hoods, walk-in coolers, [covered] wall sconces, managers' offices and storerooms. A $2 or $3 compact fluorescent light can cut your energy use by 75 percent.
Zabrowski: One of the real selling points of compact fluorescent lights is that you replace them less so you save on maintenance costs.