'Future-proofing' your business

14/01/2009 - 00:00
The reasons for caterers to take energy saving seriously extend well beyond reducing bills and 'green' footprints –as Ian Martin discovered.

The value of caterers taking positive steps to ensure their operations are fully energy efficient has been stressed by Dave Clarke of design consultant CDIS-KARM and joint chairman of the Catering for a Sustainable Future Group (CSFG). "It's becoming as much a marketing tool as anything else," he said, noting that an increasing number of corporate clients are choosing catering suppliers based on their approach to the issue of sustainability. Other reasons to look at energy saving include "future-proofing" your business against legislation targeting other more wasteful companies. "You need to look at it now or it could cost you dearly," Clarke urged. At the same time, caterers could improve the environment in which employees worked - for example, by preventing heat wastage in a dishwash area - and thereby boost productivity/staff retention. Clarke's examples of good practice include variable speed motors on ventilation systems through which "a 40% saving in energy is certainly possible". Secondary refrigeration systems where the plant is external to the building could save 25% of energy while "massive" savings could accrue from the policing and reorganisation of solid-top usage "so that they are not on all day". CSFG involves people within the UK catering equipment industry interested in developing initiatives to promote energy savings and sustainability in commercially operated kitchens. It was formed in 2006 as a subcommittee of the Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA), the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) and the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI). FCSI insists that the life-cycle cost of an appliance (including maintenance, energy costs, etc) is the critical consideration, arguing that it can work out between five and 10 times higher than the purchase cost. It noted that savings of 10-40% had been reported when an energy efficiency strategy has been implemented, leading to: greater profitability and competitiveness; a reduction in harmful emissions; and enhancing the business' reputation. Serviceline, the professional kitchen and refrigeration maintenance specialist, emphasises that equipment becomes less energy efficient during its life - eg through component wear - and so a maintenance regime is important. The company recommends different maintenance frequencies depending on the scale of operation: for example, a single visit a year for a primary school kitchen with 160 servery periods per annum; but four visits for a hotel kitchen with 1000 servery periods a year. Manufacturers have also recognised the importance of constantly developing energysaving features and equipment. Ian Osborne, managing director of Enodis UK Food Service, observed that its Enerlogic initiative clearly highlights "those products within its portfolio that have superior efficiency". He also drew attention to the Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme (log on to (www.eca.gov.uk) providing businesses with 100% first-year capital allowances on investments in equipment meeting published energy-saving criteria against taxable profits of the period of investment. Managed by the Carbon Trust, the government scheme revolves around the Energy Technology List (ETL) detailing the criteria for each type of technology, and listing those products in each category that meet them. Osborne said: "Energy-saving equipment would normally tend to have a premium price tag, due to the new technologies that have gone into the product's development. "With ECA accreditation, however, it can actually make the energy-efficient model cheaper than more polluting alternatives." He added that Enodis' Delfield S490 Refrigerator had now gained this accreditation. Glenn Roberts, managing director of Gram UK, pointed out: "Our refrigeration equipment tops the energy efficiency charts with a total of 33 products registered on the ETL. We have been able to reduce the total energy consumption across our range of cabinets by between 47 and 74%."

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