Foodservice is the biggest industry in the United States and uses more energy per square foot than any other industry. Yet the technology in use today has not changed much since the Iron Age. There is tremendous potential for efficiency gains in just about every function, yet the topic has received shockingly little large-scale study. Unmanned drones are much more exciting to invent, I guess. President Obama, this issue clearly deserves its own Manhattan project.

Yet, some progress is happening.

Green Mechanicals

Energy Recovery Think of the heat coming off a grill, out an oven exhaust or off a fryolator. The heat unrecovered in exhaust gases, hot water down the drain, and dining room air alone is a huge number. 80% of the heat from a gas burner on a stove gets wasted.

Drain-water heat recovery there are nifty little gizmos that wrap around drains and capture the heat when the water first goes down.

Radiant heating/cooling flooring

Closed loop heat and cooling recovery – This method involves a pipe containing water with a little antifreeze in it that take heat from where it isn’t wanted (refrigerators) to where it is (hot water) .

‘ERV’ air heat exchangers, these take the heat out of one airstream and put it in another very efficiently. In Darmstadt, Germany they have super insulated houses that use these plus the energy from equivalent to one hairdryer, to heat a house all winter. They capture cooled air too.

‘Displacement’ low velocity air conditioning this is a system that saves energy by throwing the cool air lower and slower in the room nearer the bodies that need it. You need a tall ceiling where hot air can collect..

‘Absorption’ type refrigeration technology

Powered by heat – This is too cool and too difficult to be understood by mere humans. Third Law of Thermodynamics or perpetual motion defying – anyone care to explain?

Small-scale energy generation and storage. Good luck with the storage part. A recent, exciting development are small generators that run on used fryer oil.

Structural and pipe insulation

Insulation is the smartest low-cost thing to do. Period.

Air curtains with open kitchens becoming more popular, this technology is going to be needed.

Grey water recovery – Restaurants use huge amounts of water – let’s make it so we can water plants and flush toilets with it.

Solar, -passive and photovoltaic – Great things are happening. Soon solar panels will be way cheaper and way more efficient. But not yet.. Way sooner if the price of oil goes up.

Wind energy – You can get this through the grid, and current subsidies make it only slightly more expensive. Buy a windmill so your customers get to see one that isn’t only on TV in a BP ad.

Hybrid delivery vehicles – That run off unit generated electricity and/or waste fryer oil

Smartgrid software – That manages energy use.

Variable speed controllers – That adjust according to demand – for exhausts, lighting, etc.

Green Practices

Waste recycling –  Minimize the waste first. Sort right where and as waste is produced. Space a problem? Consider getting a compacter, they are pretty fun to use.

Small-scale aquaculture

Vertical and rooftop farming

Green Resources

The Green Restaurant Association

Zero Energy Design

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers

Transportation Alternatives (I’m a board member)

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