Equipment specifiers, suppliers and installers are all pulling together under the banner of the Catering for a Sustainable Future Group to ensure that low carbon, energy efficient commercial kitchens are in place long before the Governments initial 2020 target.
Nobody can accuse the movers and shakers in the catering equipment industry of sitting on their hands when it comes to combating climate change: they are fighting in the front line with all guns blazing and the name of the regiment is the Catering for a Sustainable Future Group (CSFG).
CSFG is a voluntary organisation, formed in March 2006 from people within the UK catering equipment industry interested in developing ideas and initiatives to promote energy savings and sustainability in commercial kitchens.
It was formed as a sub-committee of the Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA), the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) and the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI).
According to Bob Plumb of FCSI consultants GWP who is Chairman of the CSFG Executive Panel: The Government edict to make carbon savings of 26 per cent by 2020 means we have to give the industry the tools to do that. Kitchens designed now will still be around then so it is imperative we take responsibility now.
The CSFG felt that the move to improve energy efficiency in commercial kitchens, which use and currently waste a massive amount of energy, should come from within the industry, rather than having change forced upon it at a later date.
In October 2008 it published CFSG White Paper on Climate Change: A sector strategy for energy efficient commercial kitchens. The purpose of this was to provide a structured and practical programme of policy recommendations for Government and other authorities as well as including work that can be undertaken by the catering equipment industry to promote reductions in energy use, essential if Government proposals for 2020 and 80 per cent carbon savings by 2050 against a 1990 baseline are to be achieved.
According to the White Paper, the total energy consumption of Britains catering industry is estimated to be in excess of 21,600 million kWh per year. Over 30 per cent of the energy is used in purely commercial catering establishments, with another 17 per cent in hotel restaurants and guest houses and more than 50 per cent in non-commercial catering such as schools, hospitals and Ministry of Defence organisations.
As manufacturers are already producing energy efficient equipment, and there will be more to come, it makes sense to specify that wherever possible for new build and replacement at end of life. However, the White Paper makes the point that Installing and operating a kitchen containing the most energy efficient individual items of equipment does not necessarily mean that the equipment will provide the most efficient kitchen. A commercial kitchen is a system and a degree of training and development will be required for installers to be able to advise caterers on the most energy efficient solutions.
Kitchen staff must be involved too: CSFG estimates that up to 30 per cent of kitchen utilities are wasted in the operation of a commercial kitchen. However, this figure only includes wastage within the kitchen and does not include transmission losses through the power network. Staff training on sustainability matters should be given a similar profile to that of kitchen hygiene, says the CSFG. The White Paper calls on the Government and other authorities to engage with operators and their representative bodies to ensure the effective training of staff in the key issues of efficient energy use.
CFSG also recommends that operators should be incentivised to monitor their kitchen energy use. But, although it says sub metering of individual items of equipment has become easier and costs have reduced, it recognises it is difficult to encourage operators to undertake these measures and share data as the information may be commercially sensitive if it reveals sales volumes. In light of this, it recommended an independent research study be undertaken which is representative of the sector as a whole and which will provide typical energy use figures for each key operating sector of the industry i.e. fine dining, mid-spend restaurants, fast food outlets, hotels, pubs, healthcare, business and industry, education and public services. The good news is that collection of this data is now underway by CFSG which will enable the industry to improve its efficiency.
Another massive leap forward was the publication in June by CSFG, working with the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), of the 64 page Energy Efficiency in Commercial Kitchens TM50: 2009 CIBSE Industry Guide for energy efficiency and sustainability in commercial kitchens. It is essential reading for all operators.
The guide is split into three main sections and covers all industry sectors:
Part A: Designing the kitchen
Part B: Operating and upgrading the kitchen for maximum efficiency
Part C: Benchmarks
The Guide provides industry-specific guidance and advice for kitchen designers, consultants, installers, managers, operators, owners, equipment specifiers and contract caterers on sustainability, and how to reduce the amount of energy used, thereby reducing the size of the kitchens carbon footprint and running costs.
Any energy savings achieved relate directly to the profitability of the kitchen operation. Energy saving investment can take the form of time and/or money, and often reaches the payback point very quickly, as well as adding to the quality of the working environment and the market value of the building. It is important to understand the link between investment and operational saving, and that a low cost appliance or fitting for example, may not be a good investment because of higher running costs. Cutting costs on professional design advice, installation, commissioning and maintenance can also be a false economy.
Significant energy savings can be achieved from many areas of the kitchen. For new-builds and upgrades part of the picture may involve the purchase of new, energy-efficient appliances. For new and existing kitchens, substantial energy savings can be achieved by implementing simple operational and maintenance procedures, with further savings being made possible when older appliances reach the end of their life and are replaced with more efficient items. This Guide aims to provide comprehensive and practical advice in all these areas for large and small kitchen operations, as well as providing carbon cost per meal benchmarks.
CFSG has already started work monitoring a primary and secondary school kitchen in Hertfordshire and a primary and secondary school in Durham. The essential energy monitoring work the CSFG is carrying out comparing the energy used with the meals output of the kitchen, carbon cost per meal, to establish benchmarks will be updated as it becomes available hopefully on line, says Plumb.