If your catering operation is running up huge gas or electric bills and you’re tired of paying out more money on water usage every month, help is at hand in the form of an innovative business tool that proposes to make sure your kitchen is as energy efficient as it can be. And the good news is it’s free
For many boutique hotels, food and beverage is a significant revenue stream, but one that comes at a cost.
The price of utilities is on the up, so unless you’ve got the right equipment in place and staff are using it as economically as possible, F&B profit margins will inevitably be squeezed.
The problem, of course, is that the market is awash with data from suppliers about the energy efficiency of equipment, but it is often difficult to accurately establish the difference that choosing one appliance over another will make to both the operational performance and your bottom line.
A collection of the hospitality industry’s most influential bodies are hoping to bring some transparency to the situation, however, by launching an online ‘calculator’ that tells anybody running a commercial kitchen how much money they can save by using certain items of catering equipment.
Cost and carbon calculations
The ‘Cut Cost & Carbon Calculator’ — a Carbon Trust initiative backed by Defra, CESA, CEDA, FSCI and British Hospitality Association (BHA) — has been designed specifically for anyone involved in catering equipment manufacture and supply or the design, specification and operation of a catering site.
The calculator will enable users to fully understand how to enhance profitability and reduce environmental impact through a range of activities including behavioural change, kitchen design, menu complexity and equipment selection.
The Carbon Trust insists the calculator is much needed as its research suggests that failing to improve energy efficiency in kitchens, service equipment and tailor menu options is leading caterers to overspend on energy by more than £250m a year.
It says this figure equates to more than a million tonnes of carbon every year or 3p for every meal served in the UK.
Dominic Burbridge, associate director for business advice at the Carbon Trust, says: “The catering industry is acutely sensitive to volatility across its entire cost base with inflation outstripping RPI over the last 10 years. A great
way to tackle this is to improve energy efficiency in kitchens, an area that is not currently regulated”.
The calculator will use data from your kitchen to work out the total energy use, taking into account a range of factors including the equipment, menu and hours of operation.
The factors can be varied to see the impact on energy use from replacing gas or electric hobs with induction units, for example, or switching from electric to gas combi steamers.
Burbridge adds: “Based onof the catering equipment’s lifetime cost is in energy and depreciation during use. Only 15% is from the actual purchase cost of the equipment. It makes sense to buy once and buy well.”
It all adds up
Energy costs could rise by a further £154m a year by 2020 if the current “short-term approach” to the cost of capital equipment continues, the Carbon Trust has warned.
Nick Oryino, CESA’s chairman, describes the calculator as a “significant development” for anybody running a commercial-grade catering facility.
“It has the potential to radically change the way in which capital and operating expenditure costs are judged,” he says.
“The calculator will have a huge impact on the way operators, designers and specifiers plan and manage commercial kitchens in the UK.”
Camilla Woods, policy director for the BHA, believes the calculator will lead operators, such as boutique and lifestyle hoteliers, to look at energy-efficient equipment and practices in a different light.
“The hospitality industry serves over eight billion meals per annum, that’s one in every six meals across the private and public sector,” she says.
“The carbon calculator is a great new tool to help operators deliver better en-vironmental performance. For example, it can support staff training in how to use equipment more efficiently and give businesses the confidence to invest in best-of-class energy efficient equipment. Our role is to help our members make and save money and the Carbon Calculator will do just that.”
AT A GLANCE
What is the ‘Carbon Calculator’?
The calculator is a new business tool designed to help manage the energy costs, carbon footprint and environmental impact of businesses’ catering operations.
Why has it been launched?
By managing and reducing carbon emissions, the Carbon Trust has identified that the industry could save more than £250m in energy costs and more than a million tonnes of carbon every year.
Who is it aimed at?
The calculator has been designed to enable any business involved in the design, specification or management of a kitchen to be able to reduce its energy costs and carbon emissions.
What areas will it allow users to make sustainable decisions on?
The calculator can be used in practice to assist with performance benchmarking, equipment innovation, kitchen design, process optimisation, menu development and behavioural change
How will it work in practice?
The calculator will use a caterer’s data to work out the energy use, taking into account a range of factors, including the equipment, menu and hours of operation. Caterers or kitchen designers can vary these factors to see the impact on energy use.
Where can I get more information?
You can get more details on the ‘Cut Cost & Carbon Calculator’ and request a free-to-use demo version of the tool by visiting: www.carbontrust.com/cateringcalculator