Online training takes aims at energy, water use in food service

According to the Food Service Technology Center You are leaving WAPA.gov. (FSTC), an energy-efficiency and appliance testing facility funded by Pacific Gas and Electric, the industry has a $40 billion utility bill and is five to 10 times more energy intensive than other commercial customers. Since food service employs one in 10 U.S. workers, the chances are good that you have at least one restaurant in your service territory. That gives you the opportunity to help an important customer segment succeed, support your local economy and conserve critical resources.

Teaching food service employees to manage energy and water costs the same way they manage their food cost has the potential to reduce billions of dollars of waste annually. But behavior change takes education, and delivering training to a diverse, busy and mobile workforce is a big challenge, to put it mildly. FSTC has tackled this challenge by introducing online sustainability training to turn food service professionals into energy-efficiency experts: FE3 You are leaving WAPA.gov. certification.

Industry-wide application
Based on 28 years of lab and field work, energy surveys and design consultations by industry experts, FE3 has built a practical curriculum focused on results. Like most industries, food service encompasses not only those involved in day-to-day operations, but also a wide network of supporting trades and employees. FE3 training can help all of these professionals understand their role in improving sustainability.

Restaurant owners, managers and staff will learn how to operate and maintain an efficient kitchen and how to choose more efficient equipment. Utilities and suppliers will learn about the industry’s energy challenges so they can develop programs and services to help restaurants become more profitable. Facility designers, equipment manufacturers and service agents can gain skills that will make them resources for restaurants seeking to increase sustainability.

Culinary and hospitality schools can add the sustainability curriculum to their programs. FE3 derived the online course material from classes taught live to university, college, community college and culinary students for over a decade.

Convenient, comprehensive learning
Recognizing that hectic schedules can be a big barrier to training in the food service industry, FE3 makes the six modules available online 24/7.

Each module covers a different area of food service energy and water use with interactive exercises. Topics include:

  • Intro to energy efficiency – How energy use relates to sustainability and why energy efficiency is a necessary component of a commercial food service sustainability program
  • Efficient and effective lighting – The basics of electric lighting and how to choose lighting products that use less energy, look good and meet the special needs of commercial food service
  • Efficient refrigeration – The basic principles of refrigeration and how to select and maintain energy-efficient refrigeration systems
  • Water conservation – The basic principles of water use and conservation in a food service operation and how to select and compare energy- and water-efficient dish machines
  • Energy-efficient cooking equipment – The basics of food-prep and cook-line energy use and how to reduce cooking appliance operating costs
  • Commercial kitchen ventilation – The basics and best practices to optimize kitchen ventilation systems

The material is narrated, loaded with easy-to-understand graphics and employs gamification and avatars to make learning more fun. Modules conclude with a short exam that reinforces learning.

After successfully completing the FE3 training, students will understand basic energy terms and have practical skills that will positively impact their restaurant’s bottom line. They will be prepared to choose the right lighting for specific tasks, calculate the cost of water leaks, properly maintain refrigeration, select energy-efficient cooking appliances with online tools and troubleshoot and optimize commercial kitchen ventilation systems.

Help for key accounts
Although FE3 training was developed by the California-based FSTC, the curriculum is relevant to food service employees across the country, as are many other resources the center offers.

Utility key account supervisors should explore FSTC, bookmark it and share it with their food service customers. Let restaurant owners and operators in your territory know about the recommendations for energy-efficient kitchen equipment, design guides for water and ventilation systems, equipment test results and a variety of calculators. Tell them about the presentations from FSTC seminars and webinars archived online. Share the industry links and publications with your local coffee shop or five-star dining establishment. In an industry with notoriously thin margins and high turnover, utilities can make a difference.

Hidden energy wasters hurt efficiency in commercial buildings

Controlling energy consumption in large commercial buildings can yield big rewards for both the owners and their power providers. Taking the long view, efficient buildings also contribute to the health of the occupants and the economy, too. So why are buildings still wasting as much as 50 percent of the energy that flows into them?

According to the Panoramic Power blog Redirecting to a non-government site, one of the culprits is secret energy wasters—building systems that are not maintained or used properly. The article cites studies that have shown how continuously monitoring and adjusting operations and implementing just a few energy-efficiency strategies can reduce a building’s energy use by as much as 30 percent.

Common—and often undetected—energy wasters include:

1. Lighting rooms where daylighting is sufficient: This can also cause the HVAC system to work harder, wasting more energy.

2. Systems that continue operate after business hours: It’s 7 p.m. Do you know if your lights and HVAC systems are still on?   

3. Performing unnecessary maintenance: Working on a system that doesn’t need maintenance can actually be an energy drain. Build your maintenance schedules around performance data to promote energy efficiency, reduce downtime and improve overall performance.

4. Running equipment that is not in use: If the device has a built-in power management feature that automatically induces sleep cycles when it is not being used, make sure the feature is activated. Check into “smart” monitors and power strips to control older devices that do not have built-in power management.

5. Heating against cooling: An over-cooled office may cause employees to run space heaters under their desks, causing a vicious circle of energy waste.

6. Overlighting: More is not always better when it comes to lighting. Use resources from the Illuminating Engineering Society Redirecting to a non-government site to determine the appropriate lighting levels for your needs.

7. Insulation is not forever: Schedule periodic inspections of all piping, ducting and equipment to look for damaged or degraded insulation and possible energy leaks.

8. Filthy filters: Clean and replace filters on HVAC equipment frequently during high-use periods. Dirty filters are an expensive mistake, and lead to poor indoor air quality, too.

9. Blocked vents: A chair or file cabinet blocking a vent can cause your ventilation system to use as much as 25 percent more energy to distribute air.

10. Overriding Building Management System settings: Everything works better if you use it as intended. When occupants override the building’s automated controls—for a weekend meeting, for example—energy waste is quick to follow.

Some of these energy wasters can be stopped with simple, low-tech solutions like opening blinds during the day and regularly replacing filters. Other systems will require more advanced monitoring, data analysis or even recommissioning to correct. Even if you have a building energy manager, a consultation with a certified technician may be worth the investment.

Key account managers should keep a checklist of best practices for stamping out energy waste close at hand to share with commercial customers. Ultimately, it is crucial to remind building owners that monitoring all the energy-consuming equipment and systems in the building is the best way to catch and stop energy waste before it shows up in a large utility bill.

Source: Panoramic Power blog, 1/17/15

Webinar series looks at efficiency measure for commercial kitchens

Kitchen ventilation can run up big energy bills for restaurants, schools, hospitals and food packaging plants. Utilities that serve these types of facilities should join the Washington State University Energy Program Redirecting to a non-government site Feb. 13 at 12:00 pm PST for Demand-Controlled Ventilation for Commercial Kitchens.

This webinar explores the reasons applications for demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) to commercial kitchen ventilation have been slow in coming. However, recent changes to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 – 2010 may make DCV a key component for energy-efficient commercial kitchens. Utilities may want to learn more about this option to reduce energy bills for large industrial kitchens in their territory. 

Register now Redirecting to a non-government site for February’s “Emerging Technologies Showcase” webinar. This monthly series sponsored by BPA, with support from Western, presents the latest information about promising energy-efficiency technologies and practices that BPA is considering for future research opportunities or focus areas.

All webinars will be recorded and available on the E3T website Redirecting to a non-government site and Conduit Redirecting to a non-government site.  

The next Showcase in the series will be on March 20 at noon, PST.