The leaking bucket

Kitchen is an excellent area to apply technical innovations to improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs


By Ram Vittal Rao

The food & beverages operations need to understand more than food odours and safe working temperatures phenomena and that is energy efficiency has become a priority in almost every industry in the last decade. Yet sectors such as food services, hospitality, healthcare and education have been relatively slow to adopt the culture of electronic control systems that enable kitchens to optimise the amount of energy they use. This is the biggest leaking bucket of them all. Many a hospital groups have grappled with this invisible monster and a very few of them have been able to plug this.

In any hospital, the food production area generates a lot of heat, grease and the aromas. When the dissipating heat, grease & food aromas are not led out of these kitchen spaces they mix and spread all over spaces such as the restaurants and the lobbies of the hospitals. There are special equipment which are either exhaust hoods or ventilated ceilings. Exhaust hoods are conventional and traditional ventilated ceilings that are fast gaining ground as they provide for better efficacies, hygiene sanitation and can add height in work spaces which many a times feel cramped in volume.

Commercial kitchen hoods are a vital part of any kitchen and manufacturers are improving energy efficiency continually. The technology underlying the high performance kitchen concept has improved remarkably over the years, enabling an operator to monitor remotely the operational status of energy consuming system in kitchen hoods.

A kitchen ventilation hood traditionally operates at 100% of the design air flow rate during the entire operating time. Engineered hoods demand controlled ventilation is the first truly intelligent, responsive and completely flexible demand controlled ventilation system. Engineered hoods demand controlled ventilation has the unique ability to adjust every canopy based on the kitchen equipment’s activity. This innovative Demand-Controlled Ventilation (DCV) system adjusts every canopy according to the actual activity of the kitchen equipment in a totally independent manner. The engineered hoods demand control ventilation system can achieve energy savings of up to 50%.

Because kitchens are a huge consumer of energy and have high operating costs, they are excellent areas to apply technical innovations to improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs. The results of the real-time monitoring carried out at the Nikko hospitals, Mexico (Teppanyaki restaurant) are good examples of energy saving with Capture Jet™ and engineered hoods demand ventilation technologies. A combination of several major benefits are up to 50% reduction in energy consumption within an audacious architectural design, low emission levels at the discharge point, best level of hygiene and fire safety. This means a significant energy saving, which could equal up to extra 5,000 meals served in a typical restaurant per year. These savings are increased by the ones gained on the energy consumption of the fans. The engineered hoods demand ventilation system that continually adjusts the speed of the fan and the balancing dampers, so that all the exhaust plenums have the exact airflow they need all the time. A word of caution: engineered hoods are manufactured with strict compliance to the various agencies internally that evaluate them. It is a safe practice to purchase engineered hoods that deliver rather than opt for custom fabricated local hoods.

Ram Vittal Rao is founder & director, Vital Concept Design Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.

Ventilated ceilings are suitable for all kitchens: closed, open or of the show cooking type. They represent a flexible and aesthetically pleasing solution that harmoniously combines several functions: extraction, air supply, lighting, and a suspended ceiling. The use of ventilated ceilings allows freeing the entire kitchen from the canopies volumes. The visual comfort and the impression of size are incomparable. All components are designed to guarantee optimal hygiene levels and easy maintenance in accordance with HACCP recommendations. Ventilated ceiling is suitable for central kitchens and also for all closed cooking areas or show kitchens.

Ventilated ceilings are also based on Capture Jet® installed flush to the ceiling surface which helps to guide the heat and impurities towards the extract sections. Supply air is delivered into the kitchen through a low velocity unit. Air distribution significantly affects thermal comfort and the indoor air quality in the kitchen. Compared to traditional ventilated ceilings, the Capture Jet™ technology still allows you to save money. The 15% reduction in exhaust airflow rates alone reduces the energy consumption used to heat and cool the fresh air blown inside the kitchen. Besides ventilated ceilings are equipped with light beams which provide a uniform lighting on the entire surface area of the kitchen. This unique combination gives a real impression of space while creating exceptional visual comfort for staff members.
As mentioned, improved working conditions lead not only to increased productivity in the workplace but also contribute to reduction in staff turnover and sick leave. In addition, a better working environment can forge a more cohesive workforce and as such labour costs are reduced. Even if it’s difficult to assess in real terms the actual profitability of these improvements, the results are undeniable.