Improvements in eco-friendly industrial kitchen appliance design over recent years has been nothing short of dramatic, writes John Burfitt.
Kitchen appliance design has come a long way. “The changes in demand across the past 10 years of what the consumer now wants with energy-efficient and eco-friendly appliances in the work kitchen has been enormous. What was available in 2006 would not cut it today.”
So says Brian Lennox, of industry energy consultancy Universal Foodservice Designs, on the improvements in appliance design and performance that have changed not only the way a kitchen operates, but how much it costs.
And in doing so, the environment has also emerged a winner, as these appliances use far less energy than their counterparts of a decade ago.
“Restaurant clients are more aware and concerned about what is going down the drain, how much energy everything is drawing and, most importantly, what can be done about it,” Lennox adds.
The human condition
While there’s a range of energy-efficient appliances to consider for a new kitchen fit-out, Ryan McCarthy of Reduction Revolution says the first step needs to be an audit of what is already in place, and the human habits within the workplace.
“If you know what your fridge is using now, you then know what you want a new fridge to use to save on existing power use,” McCarthy says.
A complete energy audit might reveal the appliances in place are already aligned with best industry standards, but that it is the human behaviour that needs serious attention.
“In so many instances, there needs to be a behaviour change to save energy,” McCarthy says. He stresses old habits of leaving cooktop rings burning for hours without being used, or leaving the cool-room door open for long stretches need to be relegated to history.
“For instance, a plastic strip curtain across the cool room door will make a dramatic difference in energy usage, as cold air is not spilling out everywhere,” he says. “Simple things make the difference.”
On the burner
Induction energy has become the new favourite in the debate between induction cooktops over traditional gas islands.
According to Jacques Morin of Phoeniks Innovative Kitchen Solutions, up to 60 per cent of gas energy is lost outside of the pan when cooking. In comparison, induction hobs focus more than 96 per cent of the electric energy to the bottom of the pan—an energy saving of up to 80 per cent.
An appliance like the CookTek Induction Wok Cooker can make an important change to energy consumption, says Shane Smith of Stoddart commercial kitchen equipment distributors. “With induction, the moment you take that wok off, the heating stops,” he explains. “But with gas, it is about 50 per cent efficient and the rest of the heat goes up the exhaust.”
There’s also, however, good news with gas. The new design of the Electrolux gas burners have the highly-efficient ‘flower flame’ burners which expands both horizontally and vertically, reducing heat loss and amount of gas required.
“They are smaller than the traditional burners, but have far more power,” Smith claims.
In the oven
Innovations in European technology continue to lead the energy-efficient way, with Electrolux’s Air-O-Steam Touchline oven winning acclaim for its efficient design.
The gas burners in the cavity and boiler combined with a ribbed heat exchanger save up to 20 per cent of gas consumption versus the traditional blown-burner combi ovens.
“Across the past year, we have saved about 18 per cent in our energy bills with a kitchen that is far more environmentally friendly,”—Kevin Donovan, Donovans.
An accurate patented sensor also reads the precise humidity in the cavity and turns the power off if there is enough humidity present to do the job.
“The green function will also reduce the chemical usage and skips the drying and purging cycles, which lowers the cost of cleaning and the amount of power required,” Smith explains.
The appliance also comes with a guarantee of 20 per cent lower noxious emissions into the work environment, and is 100 times lower than the Gas European Standard Limit for low-pollutant emissions.
In the hood
The Halton range of low-velocity exhaust hoods has won plaudits for energy-efficient designs, including the MARVEL Fan Management system, with heat sensors to monitor the temperatures coming off the cooktop and adjust the intensity of the exhaust.
Also in the design is a smaller but higher-performance, energy-efficient fan, along with Capture Jet technology, which creates a zone around heat-intense spaces to reduce the amount of surrounding air eliminated. “[It] saves the air conditioning from going up the exhaust,” says Lennox.
Some models include UV systems, which through infrared technology, removes up to 95 per cent of grease, resulting in less grease deposits and duct cleaning costs while improving hygiene and safety.
“If you’re operating in a built-up area and don’t want your neighbours living with your cooking smells, this is a great system,” Lennox adds.
Adande Refrigerated Drawers includes a new approach to insulation that ensures no cold air is lost, even when the unit is opened.
Guaranteeing constant temperatures means lower energy bills and a cooler kitchen. It also results in reduced chance of bacterial issues, meaning less food getting spoiled or being wasted.
Innovations like reducing water usage in a wash cycle, utilising cold water, efficient energy usage and faster cycles are among the list of features new dishwashers are offering.
The Electrolux Green and Clean hood dishwashers reduce total water usage per cycle to two litres—a reduction of half a litre from traditional washers. The machine also runs on cold water, which reduces the energy usage for heating and the smaller water tank reduces overall consumption.
“This model won a Red Dot Award for product design, as it is a big step forward,” Stoddart’s Shane Smith says.
Many new dishwashing systems also have features like heat exchange technology which captures steam inside the machine, and transfers this back into water supply to re-use in the machine. This saves on water and energy usage, as well as heat exhaust from the machine.
“The cost saving in energy bills could be over $2000 a year,” Lennox says.
After the kitchen of Melbourne venue Donovans was burnt during a fire accident in 2014, owner Kevin Donovan was determined that the new kitchen would be as eco-friendly as possible.
In the 12 months it’s been since re-opening, the new Donovans kitchen includes an induction cooktop, and energy-efficient exhaust canopies
“Across the past year, we have saved about 18 per cent in our energy bills with a kitchen that is far more environmentally friendly,” Donovan says.
“Best of all, the kitchen is a now a cooler, easier place for our staff to work in.”