Intelli-Hood Military Base Retrofit Case Study


In effort to evaluate the potential of Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) technology, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) designed, executed, and evaluated a field study. Melink Intelli-Hood® was installed in four dining facilities at Department of Defense (DoD) locations in different climate zones across the United States. These kitchens typically serve a high volume of many meals in short time periods and are excellent candidates for DCKV kitchen controls equipment to reduce energy usage of kitchen hood fans. Baseline measurements were taken before the installations and the energy savings were determined after several months of data. There were two performance objectives: demonstrate a savings of at least 30% in energy usage and maintain or improve occupant comfort.


Both performance objectives were achieved with all four dining facilities saving more than 30% in energy usage as well as maintaining comfort and noise level. No complaints were reported. Further, the following parameters were found to maximize ROI:

  • Relatively large exhaust hood systems (min. of 5,000 CFM)
  • Climate requiring significant heating and/or cooling of makeup air
  • Relatively long operating hours
  • Med-High utility costs


The following is an excerpt from the ERDC report in section 8.3:

Procurement Considerations:
Some vendors offer systems that use only temperature sensors, i.e., they do not use optical or opacity sensors. This is not recommended since the opitcal sensors provide an indication of cooking when the exhaust air has not yet reached the set point temperature.  Thus, the hoods would continue to operate at a low exhaust rate and cooking effluent would spill from the exhaust hood. Temperature-only systems are usually set to higher exhaust rates to mitigate this issue.

The following is a summary table of the energy savings results:

Before/After Energy Savings Summary of Intelli-Hood

The following are before and after Intelli-Hood exhaust fan speed graphs:

Line graph

Line graph


Line graph

Line graph


Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


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Intelli-Hood Cincinnati Zoo Restaurant Retrofit


Base Camp Cafe at the Cincinnati Zoo was due for a remodel project in 2013 and took the opportunity to retrofit the restaurant with environmentally sustainable features. They set the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification, but meeting the requirements posed much challenge. Below are the restaurant kitchen conditions:

  • Total motor power: 10 HP
  • Daily operating hours: 14
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $.10
  • Climate zone: 5
  • Customers per year: 1.4 million



The Cincinnati Zoo Sustainability Team chose to install Intelli-Hood Controls to gain credits toward their pursuit of a LEED Gold-certified cafe. The Zoo previously worked with Melink for a solar canopy project. Since 2013, Base Camp Cafe has been ranked the greenest restaurant in the nation, as measured by The Green Restaurant Association. This association granted them 473 points for the different green elements of their restaurant, with their energy reduction accounting for 220 points, or 47% of their score.


Energy savings graphic

The following is a five day fan speed graph at the Base Camp cafe:

Green graphic


Here are a before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume:

energy data before and after Intelli-Hood


The facilities team at the Cincinnati Zoo commented on their impression of Intelli-Hood and working with Melink:

“I appreciate that Intelli-Hood is automated, it’s one less thing to worry about in managing a restaurant. We don’t have to remind people to turn it on and off. We get savings by letting the system run on it’s on.”
– Tony James, Cincinnati Zoo, Facilities Management


“Melink was detail-oriented and, to be honest, a lot more on-the-ball than we were. They were responsive to the fine-tuning issues that came about, such as sensors getting dirty with grease.”
– Greg Speidel, HGC Construction, Project Manager


“Restaurants are huge energy hogs, it’s also where you can get your money back.”
– Mark Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo, Director of Sustainability



Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


Intelli-Hood Hiram College Retrofit


Like the majority of colleges and universities without kitchen demand control ventilation (DCV) in their dining halls, Hiram College was using inefficient hood fans to cool down their kitchens and to keep employees safe. Running at 100% capacity without any actual cooking occurring, the hood exhaust fans were wasting energy and pushing the meter higher and higher. As a consequence, Hiram experienced expensive utility bills. Below is the operation information for the kitchens:

  • Total motor power: 12. HP
  • Daily operating hours: 17
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $.09
  • Climate zone: 5



Hiram pursued Brewer-Garrett (BG), a performance contractor for energy efficiency, to consult them in energy efficiency upgrades. BG evaluated their kitchens and cafeterias to identify four areas with high energy consumption. BG recommended four Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for these spaces, all of which fell into their 15 year ROI program. Having seen successful ROI performance with Intelli-Hood kitchen hood controls in previous projects, BG included the technology as 1 of 4 ECMs for Hiram.



Hiram College Savings Results with Intelli-Hood


The following is a typical one day variable fan speed graph using Intelli-Hood:

Typical fan speed graph using Intelli-Hood kitchen hood controls



Here are a before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume:

hiram college demand control kitchen venilation before and after reductions


The Brewer-Garrett team commented on their impression of Intelli-Hood and working with Melink:

“You guys have the optimal product for smoke sensing. The cooking sensing technology identifies heat and/or smoke more accurately than other manufacturers. Melink also provides a very thorough turnkey solution, which was very helpful.”

– Eric Betz, Brewer-Garrett, electrical engineering manager

“We appreciate the fast turnaround and positive purchase experience. Also, the Melink installers were courteous and knowledgeable. All Melink personnel were readily accessible and eager to help when called. As far as the system itself, it is well thought-out and high quality. The display is easy to read and use.  Also, I like the ability for Melink to remotely monitor and fine tune with their Remote Access service.”

– Jon Erdmann, Brewer-Garrett, senior project manager



Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


How to Read and Interpret a TAB Report

HVAC system testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) is one of the most misunderstood trades.  In spite of its 50-year history, many contractors believe to do TAB, technicians simply need to show up with a flow hood, read grilles, hand over a piece of paper, and ask to be paid thousands of dollars. There happens to be a bit more to it than that.

Among the complexities of the trade, the final TAB report is perhaps the most critical and most misunderstood.  When the painters are done, the walls change color. When electricians are done, the
lights come on.  When the HVAC technicians are done, the building heats and cools.  When the TAB professional is done, he or she simply hands over paperwork and the other trades and owners simply must take their word for it. That paperwork is the TAB firm’s final product and should be professional, complete, concise, and as useful as possible for the end user.

Whether that end user is a design professional, facilities manager, property owner, municipal inspector, or other concerned party, the TAB report should be written and compiled in such a way that even a layman can identify any issues that potentially impact building performance.

There are five elements that any should be consistent in any TAB report:

  1.  Overall professionalism
  2.  Certification
  3.  Remarks and deficiencies
  4.  Discrepancies between design values and actual data
  5.  Mechanical drawings and floor plans

Overall professionalism speaks for itself.  Are the numbers hand-scrawled on a piece of paper or is the TAB report well-presented and organized? Does it appear to be a document reflecting the skills and expertise of the industry veteran who produced it?  Basic elements that should be included in a professional report include: an executive summary / general remarks, distribution list, table of contents, symbols and abbreviations, as well as corresponding mechanical drawings and certification.

In today’s litigious society, I’ve had more than half a dozen of my TAB reports subpoenaed in legal proceedings.  Every TAB report I compile is issued with the mindset that it may end up in the hands of a jury selected from a variety of backgrounds and be examined by professional witnesses who will scrutinize it’s
content. Once that standard is achieved, the report should be able to be tell the overall story in a way that virtually ANYONE can understand, regardless of background.

Certification is a critical element of any TAB report.  Sure, there are many incredibly capable technicians out there who operate without certification.  However, certification ensures that the
professionals who compiled the report are vetted, tested, and properly equipped to perform the work.  Certification also ensures that the TAB firm and TAB professional are current to their certifying
organizations’ standards.  Finally, certification provides recourse to the end user should there be issues with the TAB report or work performed by the TAB contractors.

Remarks and deficiencies are very often overlooked.  The professional TAB report should have both an executive summary / general remarks section up front to explain overall conditions and issues. If applicable, the summary should be followed by an itemized list of items that remain to be corrected.  There is a growing trend to include pictures of deficiencies as well. Often such deficiencies are corrected during the course of the test and balance work and by the time the final TAB report is issued, there are no remaining issues.  If that is the case, there should still be general remarks explaining the scope of work and conditions at times of testing.

Discrepancies between design values and actual data collected. The actual test data can be confusing and tedious.  Especially reports containing hundreds of pages of numbers and readings.  Even to the well-trained eye, reviewing a TAB report can be like trying to read the streaming code in the Matrix movies.  However, anyone can read “percentage of design” and determine that any item not within +/- 10% or (5% in some cases) needs further review.  ANY item not within design tolerances should be accompanied by a remark explaining why.  The remarks should also explain what corrective action can be taken, or if a corrective action is even needed.  Again, this can be a critical part of the report that should be written to stand out, even to the layman, without being overly technical or confusing.

Finally, let’s talk about mechanical drawings and floor plans. I have the great fortune of providing training to professionals from all over the world. These professionals come from a wide variety of backgrounds.  The number one complaint I hear from design professionals and facilities managers is that many TAB reports are missing floor plans / mechanical drawings that correspond to the reported data.  This is the number one item in any TAB report that makes the report practical and functional to the end user.

There are many instances where plans are not provided to the TAB contractor, or cannot be removed from a facility.  There are many options around these situations.  From a simple, hand-drawn
ceiling plan indicating supply, return, and exhaust diffusers, to taking a picture of the immovable plans and numbering the inlets, outlets, and equipment. You can use a CAD program, or even something as simple as PowerPoint to provide a visual reference. Regardless of how this is accomplished, these numbered plans and/or drawings are the glue that bind the TAB report together, and MUST be included.

The TAB report is a critical element of the construction process that assures the design team’s intent was met. It also assures the building owner that they have the systems they paid for.

The TAB report should reflect the professionalism and skills of the technicians who provided the work behind it and who ultimately compiled and published it.  However, it is a meaningless collection of data if it is not reviewed, understood, and used.