Kitchen equipment manufacturers have a huge role to play in minimising energy use and environmental damage - but the users have to do their bit as well
As an industry sector that fully understands its responsibility to fund research and development initiatives, catering equipment manufacturers have spent many years developing energy-efficient equipment. CESA (the Catering Equipment Suppliers' Association) represents more than 130 member companies responsible for every type of commercial kitchen equipment.
The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, has set out what Europe and its member states need to do to take account of, and ultimately reduce, CO2 emissions.
We all have a responsibility to endorse these goals - and in addition to the climate-change targets, the EU has an objective to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2020. Equipment manufacturers and kitchen operators both have a part to play in achieving these ends.
While many manufacturers produce equipment that will contribute to energy saving, the way in which that equipment is used is also a vital factor. For example, CESA recommends that equipment is turned on only when it is needed - and a quick look around most kitchens will probably identify several examples of energy wastage.
Heat-up times are shortening, so it is well worth a quick review of operating manuals and basic staff training to get some "quick win" energy savings. A modern combi-oven will come up to temperature in six to seven minutes, so there really is no need to leave it running. And regular equipment servicing is a must to ensure efficient operation and long life.
The EC is considering 14 studies as part of the energy-using products directive. This involves total lifecycle analysis of products - from the manufacturing process, through energy and consumables use during operating life and finally end-of-life disposal. This analysis includes an assessment of the energy used by equipment in "standby" modes.
It is very likely that the findings from this work will eventually cover commercial catering equipment. However, it is important that we press the case for commercial equipment to be treated differently from domestic equipment.
Our colleagues at the European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers (EFCEM) is undertaking a review across all European countries of every test standard for equipment in order to develop a cohesive strategy for the industry. Closer to home, CESA and our distributors and consultant partners are working to produce a guide to how to specify an energy-efficient kitchen. This will cover all the core elements of a kitchen and, when published in 2008, will be a key resource for new-build kitchens and for reviewing existing sites.
We are also undertaking partnership work in the CESA/FCSI/CEDA Catering for a Sustainable Future Group to measure energy use by kitchens and individual items of equipment. As a result of this detailed work, an "energy use plated meal" benchmark could be established, against which every site would be able to compare its performance.
It is also worth considering indirect energy costs from other systems - reducing the heat output in the kitchen can reduce the ventilation requirements, which will add to the savings that can be made.
The future is positive for our industry, with manufacturers investing in new technologies, many of which will be on show at Hotelympia 2008. And investing in energy-saving equipment may mean that you can qualify for interest-free loans or an enhanced capital allowance, so there are many reasons for thinking about an equipment upgrade.
We all need to manage our use of energy for global benefits as well as bottom-line profits. By working together, equipment suppliers and operators can make a significant contribution.
Andrew Jones, CESA chairman,www.cesa.org.uk