Corporate cafeterias have taken off over the last decade, and the trend is not slowing. While providing a value to employees, cooperate cafeterias are one of the largest operation costs within the building.
Businesses and building owners have been adding new cafeterias or expanding current ones to help with recruitment of the Millennial generation; boost employee retention and satisfaction; and establish a more inviting work environment. After all, food service areas account for the highest energy cost per square foot in the commercial building sector.
Cafeteria Energy Consumption Culprit:
The Kitchen Ventilation System
The expansion of cafeterias and new cooking techniques create new challenges for kitchen design, code compliance, and added ventilation among other matters. A commercial building’s HVAC system accounts for about 29% of energy consumption, and up to 75% of the HVAC energy consumption is contributed to the kitchen hood ventilation system. Kitchen hoods normally run at 100% fan speed from open to close — sometimes even running for 24 hours a day. Even during slow hours of operation, the system is continuously running at 100%. Any time the fan is on, the kitchen hood’s exhaust fans are pulling perfectly good conditioned air out of the building. At the same time, the makeup air unit is trying to respond to this and is heating/cooling the air to redistribute it back into the kitchen. It is a vicious cycle of wasted energy and wasted money.
A Solution: Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV)
DCKV systems utilize optic and/or temperature sensors to actively modulate the exhaust and makeup air fans based on the cooking activity within the fume hood. So what does this mean? If your kitchen has downtime and there is no active cooking, the fans will automatically lower their run speed to conserve energy. As cooking starts, fan speed will rev up appropriately until it hits the maximum speed of 100%, if necessary. This allows the highest energy savings, as well as increased comfort and safety for building occupants. DCKV is also easy to implement. It is a low-cost project that is equally effective in new construction or retro-fit during remodels. Savings from installing DCKV can be used to accelerate your payback for the addition of your corporate kitchen, making the cost of the kitchen less.
Interested in seeing how DCKV could benefit your company or commercial building? Contact us for a free energy savings report to see just how much you could save!
Contributed by Adam Householder