Ever wonder if there is some sort of certification out there to demonstrate proficiency in energy efficiency and sustainability knowledge?
Fisher-Nickel Inc. (Fishnick), the San Ramon, Calif.-based consultancy connected with the PG&E Food Service Technology Center, has created Foodservice Energy Efficiency Expert (Fe3), an online training tool meant to “certify” individual professionals.
After a successful pilot test by 40 charter members, including manufacturers and reps, culinary teachers, consultants, operators and executive chefs, the training program launched July 1 for all members of the foodservice industry looking to learn more about energy efficiency, waste and water management and more; or simply hone their existing knowledge and skills.
“We’re trying to implement behavior change on a larger scale, and educate the entire industry about sustainability rather than just a select few,” says Janel Rupp, education and training manager at Fishnick. “Foodservice operators and other professionals in the foodservice industry can use this to train management and staff not just how to purchase efficient equipment, but more importantly, how to operate and maintain an efficient kitchen. They can also learn how to save money while being more sustainable and use the Fe3 designation to show their customers they believe in sustainability beyond the plate.”
Consultants and manufacturer reps can use the certification to demonstrate to their customers their understanding of how to conserve energy and water and even potentially help implement the steps to do so.
Sustainability Knowledge Share
Think of Fe3 like an online sustainability course. In fact, that’s sort of how it started. Two years ago, Richard Young, director of education and senior engineer at Fishnick, developed a six-week sustainability course for local colleges. For Fe3, Young tailored down the six weeks into six modules that – in all – take about an hour to complete.
“Fishnick has always been about sharing knowledge about energy efficiency and sustainability,” says Rupp. “We do that well in California, but we are a small group. We’ve always had the conversation about how do we replicate this education and share it with the rest of the country?”
The training program relies on analogies and clear communication to make technical information more digestible, Rupp says.
Module 1 includes an introduction to energy efficiency for foodservice operators as the next level of sustainability other than sourcing local food. Module 2 discusses effective and efficient lighting. Module 3 covers efficient refrigeration and how to select renewable energy sources and manage energy use overall. Module 4 covers water conservation, Module 5 covers kitchen equipment and Module 6 covers hood systems. At the end of each module, the program asks users to complete a quiz before moving on.
“Restaurant owner/operators or professionals can use this as a low hanging fruit and apply some basic skills,” says Rupp. “If they understand the savings behind changing incandescent lighting to LED bulbs, that is a skill they can apply right away.”
The water module, for example, covers the most basic changes like adding low-flow pre-rinse spray valves, aerators and understanding where water leaks occur to the more complex ways to save water.
Having a better understanding of the various types of energy efficient cooking equipment on the market can also help operators consider the impact on their bottom line. “If a fryer is on the fritz, instead of just buying the first fryer you see, maybe they will consider comparing different models and determining the ROI for purchasing the most efficient one,” Rupp says.
Those who complete the Fe3 course will be listed on the Fishnick website to further market their skills.
Fishnick charges $725 for the training tool, a fee they believe is comparable to other online courses. Discounted volume pricing will be available for larger companies and groups looking to certify multiple individuals. They are also running a promotional rate for $100 off in the month of July.