In this award-winning column, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies looks at best practices, case studies and more on how to take the best ideas in green building and operations and apply it to your foodservice operation.
It should be as simple as it sounds. Turn something on when you need it. Turn it off when you don't. Yet for decades kitchen workers have done exactly the opposite. In fact, even the most prestigious of culinary schools have taught future cooks to fire up the grills the moment they walk in the restaurant door, even if service doesn't begin for hours.
Ice machines are a paradoxical bunch. They can be the forgotten workhorse in a kitchen and often come in last on equipment purchasing priorities. But at the same time, they open up incredible opportunities for total-kitchen energy savings because of their improved efficiencies.
Though ventilation may not seem that interesting a topic on the surface, this is precisely the area of the kitchen that has seen the most technological advancements in terms of energy efficiency and design.
Planning, developing and implementing composting programs continues to get easier for foodservice operators because more operators are electing to take these environmentally friendly steps. As role models for their peers, they help both commercial and noncommercial operators follow in that path.
Greenwashing, or exaggerating the environmentally friendly selling points of a product, happens in all avenues of foodservice, and is no longer the exclusive domain of organically produced or farm fresh ingredients.
Just five years ago the availability of sustainability and other cost calculators was scarce. These days, though, the scope of calculators has grown exponentially, ranging from calculators for specific equipment types to others designed to determine energy, water and total life cycle cost savings. They’ve also become more accurate.
When it comes to energy-efficient griddles, the energy-efficient part really varies by operation and need. "Griddles are heavily cost-driven and it's difficult to justify the strategies that make them more efficient," says David Zabrowski, director of engineering at the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) in San Ramon, Calif.
When foodservice professionals discuss waste management, the conversation generally turns to composting, recycling, and donating excess food — anything that happens after the food has been wasted. But what about preventing the waste from occurring in the first place?
In the grand scheme of commercial kitchen energy use, convection ovens don't pose a huge drain on costs compared to refrigeration or even fryers. But that doesn't mean their impact on total kitchen energy use is negligible. In fact, the Food Service Technology Center is diligently working to revise standards for ovens, including rack, conveyor and combination units.