The Canadian Jeiwsh News

Thursday, October 8, 2015

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Sustainable catering – food for thought

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Have you ever thought of catering and sustainability?

Our family has recently been blessed with some wonderful occasions, among them, the birth of our first grandchild, the engagement of one of our daughters and the bar mitzvah of our youngest son.

When celebrating a family simchah, there’s often a need for catering. Once you have picked a venue, you are pretty well committed to the caterer and what the caterer offer.

Whether at a shul hall, a stand-alone banquet hall or a condo party room, energy costs are embedded in the room-rental cost. The cost of electricity and natural gas used to prepare and heat the food is embedded in the catering fee.

How would you like to be in a position to make the following offer to the caterer? “I am willing to pay $50 a guest. Are you willing to share with me the savings you enjoy, because I have brought you a solution that can be used in your food-preparation phase to reduce your electricity consumption in kilowatt hours, your electricity draw in kilowatts and natural gas consumption in meters cubed?”

If you were the manager of operations of a catering operation, would you accept such an offer? If you were a member of a synagogue building or house committee that provides a turnkey facility to an in-house or visiting caterer for a percentage of revenue, how would you react?

Would you use the savings to reduce the price to the simchah’s hosts and attract more business by differentiating based on price? Do you keep the savings to improve your profit margin for the benefit of your synagogue members, catering hall owners and catering operation?

In industrial kitchens, ventilation on demand or demand-ventilation control is used to reduce electricity costs.

Most catering operations are industrial kitchens. They generally have an on/off fan-control system, with no ability to vary the fan speed.

Demand-ventilation control capitalizes on the fact that cooking appliances spend many hours in an idle or ready-to-cook mode that does not need the same ventilation rate as a cooking condition. Two-speed or variable-speed fans can achieve reductions in exhaust and make up airflow when appliances are not being used to capacity or have been turned off.

On-demand ventilation solutions can vary the speed of the fans based on temperature, smoke and steam or temperature alone. These systems increase fan speed when necessary and reduce fan speed when cooking decreases.

The longer a kitchen stays open and the higher the number of hoods used to ventilate the cooking area, the more benefit there is from a ventilation-on-demand solution and the shorter the pay-back period.

Enbridge has published a Boston Pizza case study that shows a 74.6 per cent annual natural gas consumption reduction was equal to 14,100 meters cubed and resulted in a $4,250 savings. A more detailed report stated that a 61 per cent reduction in electrical draw by fans was translated into about $1,500 in annual savings.

Perhaps your synagogue or caterer has an operational cost reduction opportunity to explore.

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