Carbon emissions in Kitchens to be cut

Published on Thursday, 09 August 2012 16:13
Posted by Scott Buckler

Defra, Carbon Trust, AEA and industry leaders to slash energy use, bills and carbon emissions in commercial kitchens

For the first time there is published evidence aimed at  understanding the energy use of  commercial kitchens, integrated with the operator behavioural challenges that the hospitality industry needs to adopt  in order to cut energy use and carbon emissions.

Replacing electric combi ovens with gas combis and upgrading refrigeration cabinets to Market Transformation Programme (MTP) best-practice standards: these are just some of the ideas being explored by Defra, the Carbon Trust, AEA and food industry leaders to slash energy use and carbon emissions in UK commercial kitchens.

Over the last year, the Carbon Trust has worked with companies including Sodexo, Elior, Aramark and Caterlink to identify more energy efficient ways of running kitchens, with the potential to save £90m or the equivalent of 425,000 tonnes CO2 a year.

Now - in partnership with the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) - Defra and the Carbon Trust are urging contract caterers and their clients to help prove the business case for new equipment and better operations and management of kitchens.

Defra has been keen to obtain better data on a range of catering equipment in sector segments to support UK government policy on the development of sustainable products. The Carbon Trust's Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) for the contract catering sector was a perfect vehicle to achieve this. The aims of the study were to gain key insights into the sector such as:

Process operations and energy use;Issues and opportunities; andExisting data available for performance assessment.

"More than a quarter of the UK's carbon emissions come from industry and we've got to find new opportunities to reduce them," said Al-Karim Govindji, Technology Acceleration Manager of Innovations at the Carbon Trust. "Our estimates suggest that over 80% of sites could replace electric combis with gas combis. The implementation cost is the additional cost for the gas combi assuming that the alternative replacement would be an electric combi. Such replacements across the industry would cost a typical site £3,000 but could have a 3 year payback, saving the sector £14m per year or 60,000 tonnes CO2 per year."

Sodexo's Paul Bracegirdle, Environmental Manager, UK & Ireland says, "Sodexo's participation in this study is fully aligned with the Better Tomorrow Plan, our sustainability strategy to 2020.  It significantly raised our awareness and understanding of where and how energy is used in a commercial kitchen, and the factors that influence it.  We have gathered new insights and data at a level we have never seen before; these are invaluable as we seek to reduce energy consumption and emissions."

Refrigeration is the second largest user of energy in the sector and this is driven by the installed refrigeration capacity at each site. However, researchers found that energy use does not rise linearly with capacity, but drops off as capacity increases. This is due to the greater energy efficiency of the larger units.

Upgrading refrigeration single and double door refrigeration cabinets with energy efficiencies equal to the Market Transformation Programme best practice benchmark standards would give a payback of 1.5 years and could save the industry £13m in energy costs per year.

There are many reasons for variations in performance in kitchen. For example, the metering in three sites (corporate office, hospital and school) showed that there was a clear relationship between the variety and numbers of hot meals served and energy use per meal for refrigeration energy and cooking energy. It seems that the added complexity may influence energy use by driving up the amount of equipment installed and the way in which it is used.

Elior's Grazia Dal Fara, Corporate Responsibility Manager, said "Elior welcomed the opportunity to take part in this research to underpin continuous improvement in our environmental management system. At Elior we are committed to operate our catering facilities effectively and efficiently and the findings of this project will be used to improve training and practices."

"Caterlink are delighted to be involved in this ground breaking project", says Neil Fuller, Managing Director. "We work hard to be as environmentally responsible as possible by serving fresh, local and seasonal produce, minimising waste, improving recycling and training our teams in basic good housekeeping, conserving energy, water and resource: but this project takes it to the next level.  We are excited that the project report will not only enable us to be even more efficient for our clients but will provide the entire sector with enough information to make the right decisions to make a real difference."

Changes in the weekly number of meals served have no clear impact on the energy use at the sites. It is likely that other factors, such as the amount and hours of operation of the equipment, have more impact than the number of meals. Similarly, the weekly number of hot meals prepared at the study sites has little influence on the amount of cooking energy used. There is a similar picture for the influence of daily meal volume on cooking energy, refrigeration energy and dishwashing energy.

"Based on the evidence contained within the report, the foodservice sector is now better placed to build a strategy with government and its agencies to bring about real change within the industry. Manufacturers can use this data to develop and market products that will reduce a commercial kitchen's energy consumption," says Keith Warren of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) who represents 167 companies that manufacture, import and service catering equipment.

Innovation opportunities include use of sensors in extraction linked to variable speed drives that can automatically vary the fan speed with the cooking load.

In addition, a number of new business models are possible, including incentives for clients to invest in efficient equipment; caterers to adopt best practice in using equipment; and the transfer of energy management responsibility to the caterer with the installation of sub-metering.

Source: ©Carbon Trust

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