“We’ve Done Benchmarking. We’ve Done Lighting. What’s Next?!” Kitchen Ventilation.

Kitchen ventilation, both exhaust and make up air, represent a significant opportunity for kWh and kBTU reductions in your facility. Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation, or DCKV for short, uses both temperature and optic sensors to vary the speed of exhaust and make up air fans in response to precise cooking intensity underneath all of the kitchen hoods. By having the fans run only as fast as needed savings are gained on fan energy (with controls producing 40-60% average fan speed versus 100% without controls). In addition, there are heating and cooling savings gained because now the kitchen isn’t evacuating all the expensive air that was just conditioned.

These controls can be installed in new construction projects, usually being specified by the engineering firm in the design phase of your project, and should qualify for one LEED point. In addition, DCKV is a path to compliance for commercial building energy code for states that have adopted ASHRAE 90.1 2010 and greater. You can see what your state’s requirements are here.

Retrofitting the temperature and optic controls within existing kitchen exhaust hoods is equally effective at generating energy savings. At the outset of a project it’s important to confirm that the controls are UL 710 and 2017 listed which permits them to be installed in any manufacturer’s hood in any cooking application. There are many utility rebate incentive programs available for the installation of DCKV as well.

The financial impact to hospital operating costs is significant when kitchen exhaust and makeup air fans no longer run at full speed 24/7.  A study by the EPA demonstrated that each dollar saved by a non-profit hospital through improved energy performance is the same as generating $20 in new revenues (incidentally that same dollar saved in a for-profit facility is like increasing EPS by one penny).

A recent project that Melink completed at a Mid-West hospital produced $20,000 (per year) in electrical, heating and cooling savings combined.  Using the EPA study metrics, this produced the equivalent of $400,000 in new revenue for this facility.  Taking rebate incentives for our technology, the hospital paid their original investment back in less than one year.

Ultimately the goal of any DCKV project is to install controls that maximize the energy savings within the kitchen. The controls will help in compliance with building energy codes, attain LEED points and make the kitchen quieter and more comfortable. This article, which recently appeared in the American Society for Healthcare Engineering publication, Inside ASHE, goes into greater detail on these topics and dives deeper into how these controls pay back initial investments.

Find the Inside ASHE article on kitchen ventilation here.