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.

Home of Utility Energy Forum gets efficiency facelift

36th annual Utility Energy Forum
May 4-6, 2016
Tahoe City, California

Artwork by the Utility Energy Forum

Artwork by the Utility Energy Forum

The Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. (UEF) generates a lot of ideas about energy efficiency and management, and it seems to have rubbed off on Granlibakken TahoeYou are leaving WAPA.gov. the event’s most frequent host. When the premier networking event for utility program managers in western states meets May 4-6, it will be in Placer County, California’s showcase project for the Better Buildings Challenge.

“The Transformed Utility: Connecting for Success” is the theme for the 36th annual UEF. “So it’s fitting that the forum is taking place in a facility that has recently undergone an efficiency transformation,” observed Western Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman. “Energy efficiency is going to be a critical component in tackling the challenges utilities are facing.”

“We started focusing on transformation as a theme last year because so much is changing so fast in our industry,” acknowledge Mary Medeiros McEnroe, Silicon Valley Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. Public Benefit Program manager and UEF president. “We need to be looking at the future, to see where we need to go with customer service and technology.”

Placer County demonstrated that forward-looking spirit when it took the Better Buildings Challenge. The upgrade combined innovative financing, public-private partnerships and high-tech solutions to reduce Granlibakken’s energy consumption by up to 43 percent. “That is the kind of flexibility and creative thinking utilities will need to meet new mandates and shifting customer expectations,” said Horstman.

Agenda highlights big issues
Those topics and more appear throughout the UEF agenda and in the pre-forum workshop for utilities and government representatives only. Eligible attendees voted on the issues they will be discussing Wednesday morning prior to the UEF kickoff. Their leading concerns include how utilities can benefit from energy storage technology, measuring energy savings from water conservation and the new roles being thrust on utilities. “One of the reasons the UEF has grown so much over the past few years is the work the planning committee has done in reaching out to identify relevant topics,” noted McEnroe.”

The forum officially opens with a keynote address by Sue Kelly, president of the American Public Power Association, on possibilities for incorporating new technologies and services into their customer service options. The afternoon continues with the strategic policy panel discussion, co-chaired by Modesto Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. Energy Services Supervisor Bob Hondeville. “Co-chairing different panels is always interesting and educational for me,” said the UEF veteran. “It is rewarding to be able to have a dialogue with the speakers and introduce relevant topics to the discussion.”

The second morning of the UEF begins with a session on communicating thermostats. “Customers are asking for the thermostats and other smart tools, while utilities are still figuring out how to design effective programs with them,” said Medeiros McEnroe, who is chairing the session. “There is definitely a learning curve for both parties. I’m looking forward to hearing what Energy Star has to say about the technology.”

Vanessa Lara of Merced Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. is co-chairing the “customer’s view” session later that day. The panel includes Ron Parson of Granlibakken Management Company, who will be discussing their retrofitting experience.

Technology is the subject of afternoon sessions, exploring the latest in programs and tools to improve building design, retrofitting and energy audits. Attendees will also learn about demand response, supply- and demand-side management resources, as well as advances in electric vehicle and heating and cooling technologies. The final day features deeper explorations of specific systems and equipment.

Greening up networking
Much of Granlibakken’s energy savings are coming from replacing obsolete refrigerators, dishwashers and stove-hood exhaust systems with energy-efficient models. So the informal networking over great meals and snacks—where so many important connections are made—is now an energy saver, too. Consider that a good excuse to enjoy an extra dessert or appetizer.

Many partnerships, plans and programs have been hatched over the excellent meals in the Granlibakken dining room.

Many partnerships, plans and programs have been hatched over the excellent meals in the Granlibakken dining room. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Attendees will also enjoy sessions and events like the networking reception and the “Any Port in a Storm” port wine tasting in newly efficient comfort. Automated heating and air conditioning systems were installed to increase the efficiency of the facility’s natural gas boilers. You can leave your suits at home—the UEF is still a business casual function—but you may want to bring your swimwear and gym gear to make use of the resort’s fitness facilities.

The most important thing to bring to the Utility Energy Forum, however, is yourself: your ideas, your experience and your curiosity. “The UEF is unique in that it brings together people who are ready to build relationships and collaborate,” said Medeiros McEnroe. “I have come up with a number of partnerships with other utilities and service providers from past events.”

There is still time to register and, if you are a Western customer who is attending for the first time, to save some green. Western offers first-timers a small stipend to help offset the cost of the event. Contact Sandee Peebles, Audrey Colletti or Ron Horstman to learn more.

New resource added to Energy Services Water Conservation page

Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52 percent of US electricity generation, and each kilowatt-hour generated from coal requires withdrawal of 25 gallons of water. That means US citizens may indirectly depend upon as much water turning on the lights and running appliances as they directly use taking showers and watering lawns.

Photo by Sandia National Laboratory

(Photo by Sandia National Laboratory)

Utilities can expect water conservation to play a growing role in their efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan. In fact, Water/Energy Nexus: Claiming Energy Savings for Water Measures and the Associated Calculations was chosen by utilities as a topic for the pre-forum workshops You are leaving Western's site. at the Utility Energy Forum.

Working out these issues will take time, but you don’t have to wait to encourage your customers to save water. Summer is the season for gardening, swimming and—yes—extra showers, so take a moment now to explore Energy Services’ Water Conservation resources. This page is loaded with information about drought management, irrigation and water-saving tips for commercial and residential customers.

In that last category is a new resource from the Southwest Florida Water Management District You are leaving Western's site. that could help motivate your customers to get on board with a water conservation program. The Water Use Calculator is an easy-to-use tool that allows the user figure out how much water they consume at home, both individually and as a family.

Most people will be surprised—even a little alarmed—to discover how much water everyday activities use (the Energy Service staff was, and we think about these things a lot). Try placing the link on your website or running it in your online newsletter to get your customers’ attention. Then follow it up with customer communication on tips for cutting down water consumption, such as Water Use it Wisely You are leaving Western's site. for residential customers. You can find those resources on the Water Conservation page as well.

While you are there, check out the information on water efficiency for commercial and agricultural customers. This customer segment is already motivated to cut water use, so be ready to help them with Best Management Practices for Water Efficiency and Water Efficiency Case Studies.

For many utilities, water conservation is already an important part of their resource management activities. If you have a favorite tip sheet, calculator or strategy for determining savings, share it with Energy Services. Once an esoteric concept, the water-energy nexus is now everybody’s business.

More cities, dates added to California water code seminar schedule

The schedule for a seminar covering plumbing code changes in California has been expanded into the fall, and water utilities throughout the state will have more opportunities to attend.

Green Technology has added four new dates for Reducing Potable Water Use:   Understanding Opportunities in Recent Plumbing Code Changes.

To deal with the ongoing drought, California has passed mandatory restrictions on urban potable water use—a first in state history—and water utilities have their work cut out for them. This five-hour seminar from Green Technology offers an in-depth look at the code specifications and helps building, design and construction professionals successfully navigate the design, permitting and inspection process. Utilities, especially municipal water providers, will find ideas and opportunities for managing their water supply more efficiently and for helping their large key accounts.

The fee for the seminar is $265, with discounts for groups of four or more. Continuing education credits are available. Please contact Cindy Dangberg at 626-577-5700 if you have any questions.

Source: Green Technology, 8/6/15

Irrigation workshop introduces water apps for growers

Western teamed up with Nebraska Public Power District  Redirecting to a non-government site (NPPD), the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Clean Energy Ambassadors  Redirecting to a non-government site and Central Platte Natural Resource District  Redirecting to a non-government site last November to present an irrigation workshop for agriculture energy customers of NPPD members.

REAP Irrigation Energy Cost Savings: From Testing Your Pumps to Financing and Completing the Project offered an overview of load management and efficiency opportunities; the REAP program, including eligible projects and application guidelines; and a case study on a solar pumping system. Participants learned about REAP success stories and utility incentives, met equipment vendors and watched NPPD Energy Consultant Ronald Rose, Kelley Messenger of the USDA and Equipment Loan Manager Gary Hoffmann demonstrate pump testing methods.

Troy Ingram, of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, (UNL) introduced two new mobile apps the UNL Extension program  Redirecting to a non-government site developed to help growers manage their irrigation systems. Utilities and their agriculture customers can benefit from these easy-to-use tools, even if they were unable to attend the workshop.

Pricing water
The IrrigateCost app  Redirecting to a non-government site models center-pivot and gated pipe irrigation systems and the most commonly used energy sources. Using information such as acres irrigated, pumping lift, system PSI, pump and pivot life, and inches applied, the app computes total irrigation cost, along with the total cost of owning and operating a system. It also breaks down costs by irrigation well, pump, gear head, pump base, diesel engine and tank and system and calculates per-acre annual cost and per-acre-inch annual cost.

IrrigateCost breaks down the total cost of owning and operating an irrigation system to help growers determine if developing land for irrigation is going to be economically feasible. (Photo by Google App Store)

IrrigateCost breaks down the total cost of owning and operating an irrigation system to help growers determine if developing land for irrigation is going to be economically feasible. (Photo by Google App Store)

Growers make a number of management decisions based on the annualized costs of owning and operating an irrigation system, starting with whether or not to develop land for irrigation. For a system to be economically feasible, the net income from increased yields due to irrigation development must exceed the additional costs of owning and operating the system over its expected life. Once development is underway, the app can help determine design choices, including selection of energy source for pumping water, the type of distribution system, and so on. Other uses for the app include:

  • Calculating a fair crop-share rental agreement
  • Knowing what to charge for watering a portion of a neighbor’s field
  • Estimating costs to pump an acre-inch of water to help you determine how many additional bushels of a crop are needed by applying one more inch of water at the end of the irrigation season

The app is available through most phone carriers’ app stores. iPod and iPad users can get IrrigateCost from the Apple iTunes store  Redirecting to a non-government site for $1.99. In The Google App Store  Redirecting to a non-government site offers a version of the app for Android users, also $1.99.

Pricing efficiency
IrrigatePump  Redirecting to a non-government site helps to calculate the efficiency of a pumping plant and to determine the potential savings from upgrading the system.

Whether a pumping plant uses diesel, electricity, gasoline, natural gas or propane, chances are it is using 25 percent more energy than expected by the Nebraska Pumping Plant Performance Criteria  Redirecting to a non-government site (NPC). A pumping plant meeting the criteria delivers the expected amount of useful work, measured as water horsepower hours, for the amount of energy consumed. The NPC is based on field tests of pumping plants, lab tests of engines and manufacturer data on three-phase electric motors.

The user enters six numbers related to pumping lift, pressure at the discharge, acre-inches of water pumped, fuel price and total fuel used. The app then calculates a pumping plant performance rating, provides an estimated cost to bring the pumping plant up to standard and the number of years for payback on the investment at various interest rates.

Both apps provide anonymous results that users can capture and email to their own devices. The cost of IrrigatePump is $1.99 through Apple, Google or phone carriers.

Ingram noted that these apps are new and have not been through a full growing season yet, but he has used them and other agriculture apps on his own farm. Crop Water, an app UNL developed for scheduling irrigation—specifically for Nebraska soils—has been particularly helpful, he added.

Farming goes high-tech
There are now apps for almost every aspect of farming and ranching, from monitoring invasive species in your area to logging machinery maintenance, and most are free or inexpensive. Utilities might consider giving agriculture customers apps that are related to energy and water management like IrrigateCost and IrrigatePump. Apps could be great small incentives and customer relationship builders.

Just remember that not all apps are created equal. Croplife magazine  Redirecting to a non-government site suggests doing a little homework before selecting an agriculture app. Or, better yet, contact your local university extension service to find out what they recommend or offer. Farming is a tough job, and growers will appreciate anything their utilities can do to help them operate more efficiently and effectively.

[Editor’s note: Apps aren’t the only thing you can offer your ag customers. Contact Energy Services if your utility is interested in sponsoring an irrigation efficiency workshop like the one NPPD presented in Grand Island.]

Rethinking Kentucky bluegrass in the West

Water utilities in the drought-stricken West may see Kentucky bluegrass lawns as water hogs, but a fact sheet by Northern WaterRedirecting to a non-government site suggests otherwise.

Drought Tolerant Kentucky Bluegrass in Northeastern Colorado identifies seven varieties of Kentucky bluegrass that adapt well to the region’s semi-arid climate. Since 2005, the water distribution agency has been studying the drought tolerance and other water-use characteristics of 40 different strains of the popular landscaping grass. Surprisingly, Kentucky bluegrass stacks up well against the indigenous tall fescue for drought resistance, due to its shallow root structure and the ability to go dormant quickly.

The fact sheet also explains the appropriate steps for soil preparation to ensure that any type of grass thrives and uses water efficiently. Although the study was done for northeastern Colorado, much of the information will apply in many parts of Western’s territory. Municipalities and water utilities may want to share the report with new homeowners, real estate developers, landscape companies or grounds crews—anyone who might be getting ready to plant or reseed a lawn.

Northern Water works with the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation to deliver water from Colorado’s Western Slope to eight counties along the state’s Front Range.  The agency collects, distributes and monitors weather and water quality data, tracks stream flows and reservoir levels, and provides water resource planning and water conservation information.

Water conservation offers economic benefits too

Water utilities take note: Reducing reliance on imported water not only has environmental benefits, it also stimulates economic and job growth.

Economic and Job Impacts of Investments in Water Use Efficiency  Redirecting to a non-government site, a study by the Economic Roundtable  Redirecting to a non-government site, analyzes $1.2 billion of public investments in various aspects of water efficiency in Los Angeles County. The economic effects of projects in storm water retention, water conservation, recycled water, ecosystem restoration, irrigation systems repair and groundwater management produced well-paid jobs and business growth in 38 industries and 34 occupations, the report found.

The report encompasses topics like “green” training for conventional jobs, the importance of public outreach and the multiplier effect—the way water conservation projects reach into many, seemingly unrelated industries.

Researchers from the nonprofit public policy research group studied five different categories of water use efficiency: water conservation, gray water, recycled water, groundwater management and remediation projects. While the study focused on California, many of the projects could be carried out elsewhere in the West.

Green Technology Magazine  Redirecting to a non-government site interviewed Patrick Burns, Economic Roundtable senior researcher who co-authored the report, discussing the findings and changing directions the research took.

Burbank Water and Power helps Burbank youth build sustainable future

Students at Luther Burbank, John Muir and Jordan middle schools in Burbank, Calif., spent the month of February learning about the importance of water and energy conservation by participating in the LivingWise program funded by Burbank Water and Power (BWP).  Twenty Burbank middle school science teachers lead nearly 1,200 sixth grade students through a blend of teacher-designed classroom activities and hands-on home projects that comprise the LivingWise class curriculum.

The BWP-sponsored LivingWise program provides middle schools with efficiency and educational LivingWise kits for each student. The kit contains water and energy saving tools and products designed to teach students about energy and water sustainability. Each kit contains a low-flow showerhead, a low-flow kitchen faucet aerator, toilet leak detector tablets, a compact fluorescent light bulb and additional energy saving educational material. With the help of their parents, students install the products at home and help the entire family understand how to preserve water and energy resources.

BWP and the Burbank Unified School District have partnered on this educational program since 2007.  Teachers appreciate the LivingWise program as it brings to life California’s required environmental educational standards for sixth grade students.  The program also includes a friendly competition between the science classes to see which classes have the highest installation rates.  BWP provides gift cards for classroom supplies to the first-, second- and third-placed classes at each school, with first-placed classrooms receiving $250 in supplies.