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3 Energy Efficiency Trends in Foodservice Facilities

From managing hot water more efficiently to cloud-based software solutions gaining traction in building technologies, commercial buildings are becoming more energy efficient.

With restaurants using almost three times as much energy as an average commercial building, food businesses are taking notice of these trends in energy efficiency.  In fact, by making efficiency upgrades and taking simple actions to reduce energy consumption by 20%, restaurants and other food businesses can increase profits by 30% according to the EPA.

Here are three ways in which we'll see commercial foodservice buildings become more energy efficient in 2015:

Manage Hot Water More Efficiently

There are a number of ways commercial service providers can reduce water consumption for greater operational efficiency and cost savings.  Installing energy-efficient water heaters is one popular way to dramatically reduce energy consumption.

Because restaurant kitchen equipment uses a great amount of hot water, reducing water usage directly helps decrease water heating costs. Equipment that require continuous water flow, such as dishwashing equipment and food preparation sinks can be made more efficient by upgrading components to include water distribution pipes, more efficient low-flow pre-rinse spray valves, thermal efficient faucets and other appliances with a higher Energy Factor (EF).

Additionally, ENERGY STAR-certified commercial water heaters include tankless units and gas storage technology that utilize 25% less energy than a traditional commercial water heating unit.

Participate in a Demand Response Program

Foodservice accounts for 8% of total commercial building energy consumption in the United States, and electricity accounts for nearly half of foodservice energy consumption.

Demand Response Programs offer financial incentives for restaurants and other food businesses to temporarily reduce energy consumption upon request during periods of high energy demand. The most common example is rewarding energy reduction during high seasonal temperatures, but there are also innovative new Demand Bidding Programs (DBP) that operate year-round. Demand Bidding Programs are low-risk and pay restaurant owners an incentive to reduce electric load during peak days and times. This day-ahead program requires submission of load reduction bids on an hourly basis, requiring a minimum load reduction bid of 10 kW for two consecutive hours with an incentive payment of $0.50/kWh for qualifying load reduction. There is no penalty for failure to reduce energy during the period. 

Manage data in the cloud

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model of technology implementation, already widely adopted in industries around the world, has finally penetrated the restaurant industry as well.

Asset-level submetering is now more efficiently tracked via cloud-based technologies because unlike traditional metering solutions, which only measure total energy usage, submetering allows business owners to more specifically understand the energy usage in specific areas within the business, allowing them to optimize equipment performance accordingly.

The cloud is also gaining traction among foodservice companies that are looking for easier ways to streamline systems and facilitate corporate communications and data sharing. Particularly for larger companies who may have a dispersed workforce, new cloud-based technologies are filling a void as new products on the market facilitate collaboration between employees, allowing them to quickly share information and ideas online. Additionally, employees can host e-meetings without being in the same physical building, which can cut transportation costs while increasing innovation.

Finally, several cloud-based tools are increasingly helping foodservice businesses run more efficiently by making it easier to access real-time data about their supply chain. New cloud-based systems help facilitate communication and synergies between a business and its supplier community. These apps help suppliers to access the rate at which a business runs through its inventory so they can meet any changes in demand before issues arise. This improves operational efficiencies for both organizations. Easier to maintain and quick to update, cloud-based technologies are able to easily scale with a growing organization

Ross McAllister is Director of the catering and food technology sales company Fridgeland

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