Equipment energy calculator nears launch

A new software tool that measures energy consumption and tells caterers how much they could save by improving working practices, including changing equipment, is on the cusp of being launched.

The ‘Lifecycle Carbon Calculator’ is close to being formally rolled out by the Carbon Trust following work it has carried out with CESA. The FCSI and CEDA have also been involved in the project, which has been paid for by DEFRA.

The calculator is still under development but the initial version is scheduled to launch in May to key group operators ahead of a full launch in the autumn.

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It is anticipated that early adopters will be offered a free upgrade to an enhanced version of the software.

The basic programme uses a site’s data and puts it through a sophisticated spreadsheet to work out the energy use, taking account of a wide range of parameters, including the equipment, menu and hours of operation.

The operators can then change parameters to see the impact on energy use, for example, by replacing gas or electric hobs with induction units or switching from electric to gas combi steamers. The software can also take account of working practices, to show how changes will improve energy efficiency in this area.

The Carbon Trust is already working on enhanced versions of the software, which will be able to take account of multiple food prep strategies and optimised kitchen design among other things.

“The calculator will have a huge impact on the way operators, designers and specifiers plan and manage commercial kitchens in the UK,” says Nick Oryino, chair of CESA. “It will help the industry cut carbon emission and running costs. We expect it to have a ready market amongst larger operator groups, such as restaurants and hotels, as well as equipment distributors and consultants.”

The Carbon Trust believes the calculator will go a long way to tackling the huge issue of the foodservice market’s carbon emissions.

It cites research published for the contract catering market suggesting that by training staff in best practice procedures for cooking and dishwashing equipment, the industry’s costs could be reduced by £35m and carbon emission cut by 173,000 CO2e tonnes, per year.

Replacing refrigerators with Energy Technology List (ETL) standard models, meanwhile, would save £13m and 56,600 CO2e tonnes annually, while total potential savings for the industry would amount to £114m and 566,000 CO2e tonnes per year.

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