Food for thought: TM50 Energy efficiency in commercial kitchens

The new TM50 guide from CIBSE aims to help cut emissions and costs in kitchen services design says lead author Roz Burgess

Roz Burgess

The new and expanded TM50 Energy efficiency in commercial kitchens offers updated advice for designers, installers and operators of these facilities on how to minimise their energy consumption, realising efficiencies in carbon emissions and operating costs.

It has been prepared by a range of industry experts, including coordinating author and principal design consultant at A&E Catering Design, Liz Rose, to provide practical recommendations that can be applied to all commercial foodservice facilities. Here, Roz Burgess, the guide’s lead and coordinating author, and principal at Intelligent Catering, explains how the guide can help users. The guide is available on the CIBSE Knowledge portal.

Who is the guide aimed at? 

The sectional format enables a variety of readers to dip into the sections that have particular relevance to them; however, everyone involved in food-service would gain understanding from this guide.

What is the potential for reducing energy use in commercial kitchens? 

Energy reduction must begin by understanding the foodservice environment requirements, starting with menu, trade levels, operating style, as well as operational aspects, including delivery, production, service methods, skill levels and maintenance intent. It is from this point the foodservice design takes shape, with layering on of building constraints, access flows and fuel types.

Extraneous equipment shouldn’t be included, but future considerations are important to enable a unit to flex and adapt to changing markets. Trends in equipment, new shiny items or reinvention must be deliberated on in respect of requirement. Overall reductions in fuel, water and waste depend on the starting point.

Refurbishments, along with new foodservice units, benefit from fresh thinking, challenge and equipment, which delivers what is marketed. Recovering heat, reusing waste water, fats, oils and grease (FOG) treatment, cyclical ‘intelligent’ parts within equipment and connectivity should be integral to optimise reductions.

Why should an experienced foodservice consultant be used? 

Interpretation is critical to enabling operation and energy efficiency. It is great to be energy efficient, but if the overall foodservice unit is not viable, this would be a waste of resource and energy.

An experienced foodservice consultant will be able to interrogate the project requirements at appropriate points and sift through information to provide the responsible and applicable design and specification for this unit.

It is not a one size fits all, and each and every aspect needs to be considered to enable knowledge and decisions to be agreed upon.

Reading the guide can increase understanding, but an experienced consultant is invaluable for ensuring aspects work together and not against one another.

Does the culture in the kitchen need to change to minimise energy use?

The human aspect of operation plays a large part in wasted energy. Understanding and making the onsite team’s life simpler will have an effect on the energy plan. For example, equipment that is efficient but also easy to use, simple to clean and easy to maintain will enable chefs.

Communication of what and why, followed by how, should be shared with the team and documented to ensure initial team members – and those that follow – know what is intended.

On a wider scale, knowing the energy consumption of the kitchen – and then being aware if this alters significantly – enables diligent proactive teams to question why things have changed and respond accordingly.

What are the biggest risks to low-energy aspirations not being realised? 

A holistic approach ensures project areas are not considered in isolation; the areas work together, and the team can work collectively to achieve energy goals. Budgeted capital costs can be greater with efficient equipment and associated aspects; however, utility savings should be realised. Again, the big picture should be considered.

The human aspect is a significant factor too. Adapting and changing the onsite team behaviour is vital to realise low-energy use – intelligent equipment can only go so far.

How do you ensure users operate kitchens efficiently after handover?

I ensure appropriate equipment of a suitable specification for the purpose and for skill levels is included. Also, that the areas are designed so they can be accessed for cleaning and maintenance.

A suitably proficient company providing the correct installation, followed with commissioning to set up equipment correctly and initial training, provides a platform for success. Refresher training, and ensuring the equipment is used correctly and only when needed to meet customers’ demands, must be part of the overall, ongoing operational management.