Four years ago, the University of Texas (UT) at Austin embarked on a complete renovation project of its dining facilities and kitchens. The fourth and final phase, completed last year at Jester Second Floor Dining Room, helped seal the deal on the university's plans to create a more sustainable dining and meal preparation environment for students, faculty and staff.
With an equipment-wide update to Energy Star qualifications coming down the pipe early next year, the Food Service Technology Center has been actively working on developing specifications for commercial water heaters, a new venture for the industry and for the FSTC.
Trayless dining took the college foodservice sector by storm a few years ago, just as the sustainability movement began taking shape. Trayless dining means less food waste (because students are not piling on mounds of food they won't end up eating), in addition to potentially less energy and water use (because trays aren't run 24/7 through a flight-type dishmachine).
Imagine walking into a restaurant or building where an entire wall brings light to a room using a series of panels dim enough to stare at comfortably and sophisticated enough to change colors, display images or even play videos.
Ranges have a unique position in the energy efficiency conversation. As it is, there really is no such thing as an "energy-efficient range," per se. In fact, no Energy Star rating exists for ranges and some states don't offer rebates for this equipment. But with the right specification and maintenance, foodservice operators can achieve energy efficiency and savings with their ranges.
It should be as simple as it sounds. Turn something on when you need it. Turn it off when you don't. Yet for decades kitchen workers have done exactly the opposite. In fact, even the most prestigious of culinary schools have taught future cooks to fire up the grills the moment they walk in the restaurant door, even if service doesn't begin for hours.
Ice machines are a paradoxical bunch. They can be the forgotten workhorse in a kitchen and often come in last on equipment purchasing priorities. But at the same time, they open up incredible opportunities for total-kitchen energy savings because of their improved efficiencies.
Though ventilation may not seem that interesting a topic on the surface, this is precisely the area of the kitchen that has seen the most technological advancements in terms of energy efficiency and design.
Planning, developing and implementing composting programs continues to get easier for foodservice operators because more operators are electing to take these environmentally friendly steps. As role models for their peers, they help both commercial and noncommercial operators follow in that path.
Greenwashing, or exaggerating the environmentally friendly selling points of a product, happens in all avenues of foodservice, and is no longer the exclusive domain of organically produced or farm fresh ingredients.