Energy Conservation in Commercial Buildings

There’s no doubt that energy conservation in commercial buildings (or any building for that matter) is important.  Reducing operating costs are important for valuations, freeing capital up for other projects or simply reducing the carbon footprint of your building, or portfolio of buildings.  There are many different ECMs (energy conservation measures) available to companies to help achieve these goals, and almost always the decision to use certain measures comes down to “I have to be at 3 years or less for the simple payback”.   While financial metrics are important, I believe that this focus often obscures the soft benefits to the building’s occupants and workers.

 A noise study was recently completed where a corporate kitchen’s noise levels were measured before and after the installation of variable speed controls on both the hood exhaust and supply fans. Traditionally kitchen exhaust fans run at 100% speed for constant periods of time.  With the addition of a variable speed system, like Melink Intelli-Hood, fan speeds are reduced to slower speeds when cooking isn’t at its maximum.  From an energy savings perspective there are two buckets of operational cost reductions, fan energy and conditioned air.  The chart below shows that when the kitchen fans are operating at 100% speeds the decibel level is just short of what a fire alarm sounds like when activated.  With the addition of the variable speed controls, the site realized much lower average fan speeds, as well as a reduction in kitchen noise levels to just below conversational speech, or a reduction of 11 decibels. 

The financial metrics for this project met all approval hurdles and the site is very happy.  For a moment, think about the Chef and his staff.  Their work environment has now become much more quiet.  They can hear each other better when they’re coordinating and preparing meals for several hundred employees each day.  Shouting and miscommunication is greatly reduced, and their environment is more pleasant.  This particular improvement would be hard to show on an income statement…or would it? 

As one example, within Seniors Housing, Dining Services is consistently near, or at, the top in employee turnover percentages.  The current industry turnover rate is 36.91%, (McKnight’s Senior Living, Salaries and Benefits Report 2017-2018) with Certified Nurses Aids coming in a close second at 34%.  It will cost a facility approximately $2,500 in recruiting and training to backfill a single new employee.  Compound that amount with multiple hires each year and it gets expensive very quickly.  If along with reducing energy costs a site can also create a better work environment for its full time employees (FTE), then perhaps that large expense can begin to be reduced and more employees will remain on the payroll instead of seeking other places to work. 

See the full case study here or contact us today to learn more about Intelli-Hood and the benefit of kitchen hood controls.

Energy Upgrades In Prison Facilities

It is no secret that many prison facilities are outdated, understaffed, and overcrowded. Sadly, these problems can all be traced back to being underfunded.  With large pressing problems like this, it makes the idea of certain energy upgrades in prisons like installing a new LED light fixture or flow meters on hydronic components seem miniscule while the impact could greatly help the underlying problems.

The Problem – “There’s only three ways to spend the taxpayer’s hard-earned when it comes to prisons.More walls. More bars. More guards.” – Shawshank Redemption

Although it may seem like this statement is true, most of the costs associated with state run facilities is lumped into personnel costs within the operating expenses. Salaries, overtime, and benefits comprised over 66% of the cost to run state facilities. Additionally, an average of 17% of funding across the nation went to facility maintenance, prison programs, debt services, and legal judgments. This data tells us that most of the cost of prisons goes unsurprisingly, to operating costs. The operating costs can range from your day to day maintenance, to the utility bills, to providing food and supervision for inmates. The average salary of correctional officers in the US is $37,717 per year, so adding even one more CO to help an understaffed facility can have a substantial effect on the budget.

The Solution – Lower Operating Costs

However, the problem with initiatives and projects to reduce operating costs, is that they are met with red tape. Every state has their own nuances but all capital expenditures go through lengthy processes to determine what is necessary and when. So, how can a facility take control of own their operating costs without the capital expenditures? For multiple energy efficiency and water conservation measures in one project, energy service performance contracts can be a powerful tool if managed properly. These projects can range from low flow facets, to LED lighting, to control systems, to mechanical system replacements.

However, some states have different laws regarding performance contracts so if this route is not an option, individual conservation measures can be implemented creatively. For example, demand control kitchen ventilation is a relatively low-cost measure with a high ROI, making it a versatile measure for performance contracts and as a standalone facility upgrade. By slowing the kitchen exhaust fans in relation to the cooking activity, savings are realized through fan energy reduction and reduction of conditioned air that is wasted. In many cases there are even lease options among other financing routes that could make your project cash flow positive from the first month of implementation! With the saved money that would be going toward the electric bill, the extra cash can be used for other costs across the facility.

Putting Your Savings to Work

Implementing energy efficiency products like DCKV can save you money, but how much are we talking? For a large facility, let’s say you save $30,000 a year on your electric and conditioned air. In North Carolina, that is enough to cover the cost of one inmate for 335 days or 335 inmates for one day. In Florida, that is enough to cover the costs to house and supervise one inmate for 561 days or the salary of an entry level Correctional Officer. Why is Florida’s cost per inmate so much less than North Carolina? The state completes a lot of ESCO projects, so overall, their facilities are more efficient.

In the end implementing energy efficient technologies and practices, not only helps your prison run more efficiently, it reduces operating expenses so your cash can be used where it makes a  bigger impact; paying for more CO’s, building upgrades, and additional programs to reduce the recidivism rate.


Melink Corporation Awarded GSA Certification To Work Directly With U.S. Government Agencies

CINCINNATI, OH – Melink Corporation, a global provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, just announced it has been awarded a General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Services 056 Contract. This 5-year contract will enable Melink Corporation to partner directly with U.S. government agencies to deliver Intelli-Hood®, their proprietary kitchen ventilation controls, for increased energy efficiency in cooking operations. .

The US Government has been making strides towards sustainability, adopting more products and services that will improve energy usage in their buildings. The US Army compiled research on exhaust air and makeup air hood optimization, showing both the energy and financial savings of using kitchen ventilation controls to regulate the fan speed found here. Melink Corp has worked on numerous US Government projects to date, with agencies such as DOD, DOE, VA Healthcare, GSA and others with cooking operations. This certification will make it easier for the government to implement Intelli-Hood into their projects and continue to make energy efficiency a priority.

“Melink is optimistic that this GSA contract award will increase opportunities for the Government to create more sustainable operations and eliminate barriers to purchasing our Intelli-Hood controls.” said Randy Miles, VP & General Manager of Intelli-Hood.

Since inventing the first demand control kitchen ventilation (DCKV) system over 30 years ago, Melink has created significant energy savings in over 30,000 hoods across the globe. Compatible with all manufacturers, Intelli-Hood can be used in both new construction and retro-fit projects. Unique dual sensors with self-learning algorithms ensure the safest environment and the highest energy savings.

To learn more about Intelli-Hood please visit

­­About Melink Corporation: A global provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy  solutions for the commercial building industry. With four business units and a singular energy mission, we help companies save energy, increase profits and make the world a more sustainable place.