Foodservice buildings use the most BTUs of any commercial building type, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Most of the consumption comes from three categories: cooking (25%), refrigeration (16%) and sanitation (16%). The equipment used to handle these tasks is critical to kitchen operations, so it’s critical to find ways to reduce energy consumption and incentivize end users in the process.
The ENERGY STAR program
ENERGY STAR is the EPA’s symbol for energy efficiency ― helping consumers save money and protect the environment with products and practices that reduce BTU consumption.
Currently, ENERGY STAR certification is available for nine commercial food service (CFS) product categories:
- Coffee Brewers
- Hot Food Holding Cabinets
- Ice Makers
- Refrigerators & Freezers
- Steam Cookers
Products can earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in ENERGY STAR product specifications. To earn this label, products must be independently certified by an EPA-recognized certification body based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. In addition to up-front certification, ENERGY STAR-certified products are subject to post-market verification testing administered by certification bodies.
Participation in the ENERGY STAR program is voluntary, but manufacturers ― or brand owners, in ENERGY STAR terms ― can increase sales and customer loyalty by promoting the energy-saving and environmental benefits associated with the program. ENERGY STAR offers a host of tools to help CFS brand owners better market their participation in the program, including co-branded sales sheets, Partner of the Year awards and training materials.
CFS rebate programs
Additionally, brand owners can help spread the word about how to make their equipment more affordable through rebate programs. Rebates are available through ENERGY STAR and utility companies to reduce the cost of new, more energy-efficient equipment.
In most cases, the location where the equipment is installed determines the eligibility for rebates. With that information in mind, here are some resources to help operators find relevant rebates.
The site is the EPA’s official resource for consumers to research the program and search for rebates available in their area by zip code.
DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States.
CEE is an EPA Climate Protection Award-winning consortium of efficiency program administrators from the United States and Canada. Members work to unify program approaches across jurisdictions to increase the success of efficiency in markets.
Although the CEE does not administer energy efficiency programs or offer rebates, it does have a resource library and up-to-date information on energy initiatives.
Beyond these resources, an operation’s local utility company is the best place to start when looking for state or regional rebates. For example, Saving Water Partnership is a group of local water utilities in Seattle and King County, Washington, offering rebates on select steamers, dishwashers and ice machines.
Additionally, Energy Solutions, a clean energy consulting firm, designs and implements energy-efficiency programs nationwide. The company offers Foodservice Instant Rebate Programs in 10 states for gas and/or electric equipment across a range of categories.
Why it’s important to have an energy efficient kitchen
While it can be easy to focus on rebates, a major tenant of ENERGY STAR is that customers receive ongoing benefits from the initial incremental spend on a piece of energy-efficient equipment.
ENERGY STAR-certified commercial kitchen equipment helps commercial and institutional kitchen operators save energy by cutting utility and maintenance costs without sacrificing features, quality or style.
Saving energy helps reduce utility bills and protect the climate by cutting greenhouse gas emissions ― and these measures add up. According to the ENERGY STAR website, outfitting a commercial kitchen with a suite of ENERGY STAR-rated CFS equipment could save operators about 360 MBTU/year or $5,500/year.
Best practices to keep equipment operating efficiently
In order to capitalize on these savings, however, energy efficient equipment still needs proper installation, maintenance and operation. Replacement parts can make a significant difference in energy conservation.
When parts are replaced with generic alternatives, the equipment operates at a subpar efficiency ― and operators risk losing thousands of dollars due to unit downtime, while spending more in utilities to operate. With OEM parts, the unit operates at 100% efficiency, all the time.
Energy efficiency is not a one-time consideration. Proper maintenance and use of 100% Genuine OEM parts helps ensure energy savings for the life of the equipment ― providing long-term benefits for your customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become an ENERGY STAR partner, visit www.energystar.gov/join. If you are already part of the program, consider promoting your participation by letting customers and prospects know about potential rebates.
The ENERGY STAR program continues to evolve, and there is always more to learn. Make plans to join the ENERGY STAR team at a CFS stakeholder workshop during the 2019 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. There will be a discussion on mid-stream level rebate programs that are applicable for the CFS market and some updates to the specifications the ENERGY STAR team is currently working on.
Sources: https://www.energystar.gov/partner_resources/products_partner_resources/brand_owner_resources; https://www.energystar.gov/products/commercial_food_service_equipment; https://www.energystar.gov/products/how-product-earns-energy-star-label