Keeping it green in the kitchen

Schools are still reluctant to spend money on energy-saving catering equipment, says Simon Frost

School caterers are becoming more aware of green and sustainability issues, but there is still a reluctance to spend extra on energy-saving equipment, even though the lifetime cost of the machine will be significantly lower, thanks to reduced running costs. 

Every organisation should make it their social responsibility to be green. Energy efficiency is not about using less power; it’s about using the power more efficiently. It’s about getting more out of equipment per unit of power. 

The Carbon Trust’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) gives a clear insight into how the catering industry uses energy, and how its energy use could be improved. Their recent report studied several catering sites and recommended a variety of ways to save energy consumption. 

The IEEA report highlights the energy saving potential of ‘best available technology’ (BAT). With refrigeration, it concludes that the improvement potential of BAT, compared to ‘base case’, is up to 62%, depending on the type of refrigeration. It also says that BAT delivers the least life cycle cost – in other words, investing in the best available technology works out cheaper over the lifetime of the equipment. Since 28% of a kitchen’s energy is used by refrigeration this is a significant issue.

Operators should focus on sustainability in all its aspects. That means being more efficient with water and consumables such as chemicals, as well as energy. It also means training staff to be more efficient. 

Modern green technology

Nearly all modern catering equipment is ‘greener’ than its predecessors. However, when comparing the energy efficiency of similar products, functionality and output are the two key criteria. There’s no point in having a highly efficient refrigeration cabinet if it can’t keep food chilled safely in a hot kitchen environment.  

Caterers need to be ready to pay a little extra for energy efficient products. In the long term, this extra investment up front will pay dividends in savings in running costs, as well as strengthening the brand of the business with its ‘greener’ credentials.

Energy efficiency: the Ecodesign Directive

For specifiers looking for sustainable equipment, one key issue is that different manufacturers base their energy efficiency claims on different criteria. However, this is due to change, with the Ecodesign Directive establishing standard benchmarks against which products can be measured so they can be labelled to indicate energy efficiency. The first category this applies to is refrigeration, and in time this will extend to other products.

Green training

CESA, Department of Energy and Climate Change and other industry associations are collaborating on the Save It! campaign, featuring a full programme of support which will include various training aids and wipe-clean, kitchen-proof stickers designed to remind staff to save energy by shutting it, filling it and turning it off. Amongst the training aids is a series of carbon management podcasts. The first three cover refrigeration, dishwashers and cooking equipment and show how to minimise energy consumption. They can be found at:


Simon Frost is Chair of The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) is the authoritative voice of the catering equipment industry:    


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