U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office
Commercial Kitchen Demand Control Ventilation (Text Version)
Below is a text version of "Commercial Kitchen Demand Control Ventilation," originally presented on January 16, 2013. In addition to this text of the audio, you can listen to a recording of the webinar (WMV 27.9 MB).
Welcome, everybody. Thank you so much for attending today. My name is Richard Shandross. I am the Technical Lead for the Food Service Project Team for the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Alliance (BBA), and I have as my cohost Kim Erickson from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). I'm just going to start off here by talking about the agenda, and very briefly, describe the Better Buildings Alliance, and then we'll pass it off to Kim and the rest to start the webinar proper.
So, first, we have the "Welcome and Introductions" and an overview of the technology that will given by Don Fisher from the Food Service Technology Center of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and then after that, Kim Erickson will talk about the utility perspective, their energy efficiency program administrators and the industry efforts to improve commercial kitchen demand control ventilation efficiency.
And we will have quite a bit of discussion after that, including both the perspectives of the program administrators of the Efficiency Incentive Program, represented by CEE, as well as the users themselves, which the Better Buildings Alliance represents — and we probably have some participants as well who just dialed in having seen the webinar information on the website and perhaps are not members of Better Buildings Alliance, but we'd like to hear from the too.
And then finally, we conclude with a discussion of what might be the best next steps to take to improve efficiency and implementation of demand control ventilation in commercial kitchens. So I'll take one minute to talk about the Better Buildings Alliance of the Department of Energy (DOE).
If any of you have had prior dealings with this group, it was previously called the Commercial Building Energy Alliance (CBEA) and recently has rebranded. The Better Buildings Alliance is an alliance of essentially people who are owners and operators of buildings that would like to join together with the Department of Energy Building Technology Program to work together to improve energy efficiency within their buildings.
The members of the alliance represent as much as 20 percent of the floor space of commercial buildings throughout the country, so that's quite a bit of clout, you might say. And among the activities that the Better Buildings Alliance does is to have people, commercial organizations that want to group together to create technical specifications for more efficient equipment and the provide challenges to the industry so that they will produce that equipment knowing that there'll be customers, that's something — there are a number of technology specifications that have been produced by the Better Buildings Alliance; and if you Google Better Buildings Alliance from DOE, you can go right to the website and you can see the technology standards and so forth.
This webinar, by the way, is being recorded; and afterwards, it will be available online as well. So with that I am going to turn the floor over to Don Fisher from the Food Service Technology Center, Fisher-Nickel, inc. and let him give us a summary of demand control ventilation technology.
Thanks, Rich. Great to see all our energy efficiency colleagues on the line, both program side and end users. I'm just going to give a bit of a 30,000-foot level overview of what we're referring to as demand control ventilation or variable-speed exhaust. And I respect the fact that many of our end user colleagues have seen slides, and some of our program people, so these are not super brand new slides. So, next slide, Rich.
I think it's pretty obvious that what's driving this from CEE and BBA and from the utilities and obviously from the end users is there's a huge amount of exhaust from kitchen ventilation. We've estimated in the past over three billion CFM exhausting at one time from commercial kitchens in the US — next slide — and the bottom line is that these are dominated by single-speed systems — on/off switches dominate. Next.
The experience that we've had — and, again, I need to state, there's a huge difference between a quick-service restaurant and a hotel kitchen or a casino kitchen. But one of the things they all have in common is at 3:00 in the afternoon or 10:00 in the morning or 3:00 in the morning — in a hotel kitchen 3:00 in the afternoon or 3:00 in the morning — the hoods are on at 100 percent. But there's not a lot of appliance use. And this just reflects a hotel in San Francisco, again, 20,000 CFM of exhaust. I think you can see that there's not a lot of appliance cooking activity going on, but 100 percent exhaust. Next, Rich.
The Potential: We estimate, just with our intelligence from communicating with the manufacturers — and I think everybody knows there was one major manufacturer that pioneered this almost 20 years ago. And whether that's 10,000 DCV systems or 20,000, it doesn't matter; but there certainly is no more than 20,000, and 10,000 is a reasonable number. This is a technology that has emerged rather slowly over the last 25 years. It's an emerging technology that just can't quite get itself going. Next.
There's nominally a million food service establishments in the US and Canada, and if we just assume two hoods per facility — there's over two million hoods in operation — and the 10,000 DCV systems represents a market penetration of 0.5. Or, basically, we can stand back and say one percent of kitchen ventilation systems have some level of variable-speed exhaust at this point. The potential for demand control ventilation, some form of modulating the exhaust ventilation rate in accordance with appliance usage, is a potential that's huge. Next.
There was one manufacturer that sort of pioneered this, but I think we've counted up, Rich and I, close to eight DCV systems on the market at this point. What we've seen in the last year was that the kitchen ventilation manufacturers have embraced the technology and offered their own systems, so — next, Rich — the simplest system is simply a temperature sensor in the hood reservoir and/or duct collar that senses the heat being produced by cooking equipment, and thus communicates with a central processing unit, which then tells the exhaust and makeup air fans to slow down accordingly.
The more sophisticated one — and this was the system that sort of started the whole process — in addition to the temperature measurement, there was also an infrared beam that shot across the bottom of the hood reservoir. And if a plume of smoke or steam emulated from the appliances, it would break that beam and the hood would ramp to full-speed.
And then on the even further, on the more, sophisticated one, the infrared sensor is actually pointing at the cooking equipment, having been programed to determine whether that appliance is cooking or not cooking. In some cases, when you load a griddle with hamburgers, the temperature actually drops for a while, so that needs to be programmed into it. So we now have a plethora of systems now and it's time to sort of move forward. Next, Rich.
One of the things — and the end users on this line know that this is my sort of mantra — is that Variable Frequency Drives are our cornerstone of DCV system, and they're effectively electronic motor starters that replace the mag starters. They allow you to use a direct drive fan if you want. And I believe strongly that they're a separate value proposition.
I know that there is one major QSR chain that has basically changed their specs over to variable frequency drive (VFD)/direct drive fans. And at this point, that QSR chain has not deployed DCV at this point, but they are obviously in a strong position to move forward if they wanted to. But when you take this cost — and, again, one of the things that's happened in the 20 years that we've been campaigning for some level of variable-speed is that a variable frequency drive has come down from $5,000.00 to the $300.00 to $500.00 range. So this has become pretty cost-effective. Next slide.
And obviously you have a kitchen ventilation system at full speed and in simple terms — go to the next slide — you cut it in half speed and you eliminate or reduce your dedicated make-up air, which is typically your unconditioned air Now you're drawing your transfer air from your condition spaces and your kitchen environment can improve dramatically, along with the sound pressure level or noise from the hood. A 50 percent reduction in exhaust air is almost a 90 percent reduction in fan power and sound pressure level. Next.
So the typical type of thing: here's a campus facility. The red line represents the power of the exhaust system, almost four kilowatts, single-speed. When we commission the DCV system, the blue line represents the cycling up-and-down and an average power of a little over one and one-and-a-half. So a 60 percent reduction in fan power on this system. Next, Rich.
And this is just one of the things we did, and this data is ten sites that we've monitored in collaboration with SoCal Edison and PG&E. These are ten sites — and you can see the different styles, and you can see obviously the fan power reduction and the exhaust fan speed reduction. So we had an average exhaust fan speed reduction of 26 percent and a power reduction of 57 percent, and it varies from site-to-site.
The fan speed reduction is the number that you would apply to calculate the exhaust ventilation savings, so a 25 percent reduction in fan speed translates to a 25 percent reduction in CFM. So if you have 10,000 CFM, that's basically saying on average. You're saving 2,500 CFM, and then you could go into some tools like our outdoor air-load calculator and calculate the impact of that on heating and cooling loads. So this gives you insight. And for the different players, you can obviously see that the quick-service doesn't return quite the same bang for the buck as the hotel kitchens or the supermarket kitchens that are very meal-oriented or time-of-day oriented.
So this data — and this data will be published in the upcoming issue of the ASHRAE Journal article — and this is the type of data that we are going to use to populate the CEE database that Kim is going to speak to in the next presentation. So that's a real fast overview of demand control ventilation. One more slide here I think.
Recap: One of the things I believe strongly is when you have demand control ventilation, there's no need to take chances on your design ventilation rate, because you can oversize your exhaust system a little bit to be comfortable, and then you can commission out that safety factor very easily with your variable frequency drives and DCV control panel. Next.
One of the things we believe is that commissioning a DCV system can maximize its importance — and you will see the schizophrenia of our terminology where we bounce between demand control ventilation and demand ventilation control in that slide. I apologize, Kim. Next slide.
One of the things that's important, and I can't overstate this, is that the kitchen ventilation system must be working effectively as a single-speed system before you overlay DCV. And I say that because as we all know on this call, many of the people on this call know that one out of five systems, or one out of ten system doesn't always perform as it does on the set of plans. And it's just we need to be cognizant of this as program people that we need to put some kind of a check-in there that we don't rebate DCV systems on CKV systems that aren't working properly. Next slide.
And I believe strongly that until appliances start to communicate with the DCV that the technology will not realize its full potential. And I believe many of the end users on the call, the quick-service people are positioned to be able to drive this, because they aren't dealing with a dozen pieces of equipment, they're dealing with two or three, and they have a fair amount of influence on the manufacturers that are supplying their appliances. So I see this is the direction that many of the people on the call can move, and I know that there's some thinking going on in this area. Okay, next slide. I think that's it.
Yeah, I think that's it. So just to bookmark what you just said — when we get to next steps, we should be talking about whether or not this might be a Better Buildings Alliance technology specification in the works here on this particular aspect of the technology. So why don't we move right along then to Kim. So Kim Erickson, Commercial Program Manager from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.
Thanks, Richard. I'm just going to give a quick overview of program administrator efforts to promote demand control kitchen ventilation at the industry level before turning it over to three program administrators who volunteered to talk a little bit about their efforts in their individual programs. So, next slide.
The first thing I want to do is just take 30 seconds to give everyone a general sense of who CEE is and how we work, so you understand what our role is in the market and what it isn't.
So CEE is kind of like a trade association for rate-payer funded energy efficiency program administrators. We are a membership organization made up of utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric, and nonprofit energy organizations like Wisconsin's Focus on Energy who come together to build common program approaches, that when they're implemented across North America, they can more effectively impact North American markets than a single program can working by itself. We do work strategically with manufacturers to develop program approaches that make sense in the markets. But to keep free from commercial interests, manufacturers are not eligible for CEE membership.
We also do listen to what end user needs are; but again, CEE doesn't work directly with end users. CEE members like the utilities and the nonprofit energy organizations work directly with end users. So what CEE does do is bring together program administrators and information from manufacturers and end users to build consensus among program administrators around national program strategies that can advance energy efficiency for the public good. Next slide.
CEE facilitates several committees of program administrators who work together to develop common approaches to increasing efficiency in different products and markets; and we do have a committee focused on commercial kitchens. One of this committee's priorities is to develop the program infrastructure to support program offerings that will increase the efficiency of demand control kitchen ventilation systems. And as part of this effort, we track with CEE members are already offering incentives for these system; and this is what you can see on the map in this slide.
So in 2012, 24 CEE members in 18 states and Canadian providences offered incentives for demand control kitchen ventilation. Some of these incentives are ongoing, some are tests, and I do know there are many other member programs who are interested in supporting this technology with incentives, but they haven't been able to make the case to regulators yet to support an offer. And so this is one kind of key thing around our efforts in this area.
Efficiency programs have to meet very high standards to prove that the technologies they fund do in fact save energy and do so in a reliable and consistent way. And a couple of ways that program administrators can get the proof they need is by each utility doing a handful of test projects on their own or by collecting laboratory test information. And if it seems like they can cost-effectively design and offer a program, they'll move forward. Next slide.
So as you can imagine, each utility doing their own tests on demand control kitchen ventilation is probably not the most efficient way to prove out this opportunity. It's also extremely burdensome to manufacturers and customers, and kind of just expensive all around. And then I think the other difficulty around everyone doing their own tests is you don't get the benefit of everyone pooling their information together. You have information or tests done in different ways on different things, and it's virtually impossible to gain a more complete understanding of the savings opportunity.
So a couple of years ago, CEE brought members together to start addressing this situation, and we've developed two things that might be of interest to BBA members and CEE members who are line who don't already know about this.
The first thing that we developed is a demand control kitchen ventilation field test protocol, and what this does is really guide members, manufacturers, and others in how to do a field test that's going to meet the needs of energy efficiency programs. It outlines the methodology and the data to collect, and it's free and publically available, and it's also the basis for a newly developed and available ISTM protocol. And everyone is welcome to use this protocol for your own testing if you would like to.
The second thing that CEE members are doing is working together to prove out demand control kitchen ventilation opportunities so that each program doesn't need to do separate field tests. We've developed a clearing house to collect and share field studies done according to the CEE protocol, and this data is also going to be publically available. We're looking for about 50 field studies — 6 were each of the systems made by major manufacturers in the United States and Canada — and the field test submissions can come from any qualified testers. So they can be CEE members, manufacturers, it can be end users like BBA members. And as we collect the studies, what we're looking to do is prove out and better understand how different factors impact the energy savings from these systems and support our members, incorporate demand control kitchen ventilation in their programs. Next slide.
So that's really for the efficiency program industry overview. Richard, I don't know. Do we want to take any clarifying questions or just kind of hold those until after we hear from the program administrators?
Maybe we could take a minute or two if anybody does need some clarification. So if there are any questions about the material that's been presented so far, please feel free to ask at this point.
I'm not sure if somebody's asking a question or that was background noise. If you were asking a question, can you speak up a little bit more?
Yeah, I'm not really catching that. So if that is a question for us, why don't you write it in the chat and we'll come back to it after we hear from a couple other people. So I guess at this point, what I want to do is really turn it over to the three CEE members who have volunteered to start the discussion part of the webinar. And what we're hoping to do today is really just share information with all of you about what we're doing as an industry and individually related to demand control kitchen ventilation. And then we also want to hear about what you're doing and then explore if and how we might work together to leverage and inform each other's efforts.
So we've asked three people: Ray Keller from Vermont Gas, Andre Saldivar from Southern California Edison, and Matt Matenaer from Wisconsin's Focus on Energy to get the ball rolling by sharing their experiences with this technology. All three of them come from organizations with somewhat different perspectives. Vermont Gas is an investor-owned utility in the Northeast that provides natural gas, SoCal Edison is an electric investor-owned utility in Southern California, and Wisconsin's Focus on Energy is a gas and electric non-utility energy efficiency program for Wisconsin.
And we've asked these three individuals to talk to two questions to start things off. The two questions are on the slide. Basically, "What's driving their programs to consider and provide incentives for demand control kitchen ventilation?" and just kind of talk to a little bit about, "Opportunities and areas where they've had success working with chains on demand control kitchen ventilation and where they've been challenged."
So, Ray, are you on the line?
Can you hear me now? Hello?
Ah, we can hear you now. So why don't you go ahead and kick things off.
Okay. Hi, this is Ray Keller, I'm with Vermont Gas. And Vermont Gas is a very small utility and you can imagine; but basically, it's been offering incentives for gas conservation measures such as DCV since like 1992, and I would suspect we've been offering incentives for kitchen demand control kitchen ventilation probably the better part of a decade.
So we initially saw these come through as retrofits to existing kitchens, being every cost-effective for the owner, especially when they have, say, like a three-meal service — a full-service kitchen with several meals a day — and that I actually have seen it even follow in or been appropriate for more of a quick-service restaurant as well. And the drivers for our program to offer incentives really stems from it being very cost-effective. So if we make the investment and the return on the investment, not just for the restaurant itself, but also the utility, is very good. It's a reasonably robust measure.
Then there's other side benefits, because we like to — you know, in considering these programs as a way to reach out to customers and help them with their cost-effectiveness in their industry, restaurant industries being one that has a fair high turnover — if we can help affect their bottom line by reducing their costs of their utilities, it's sort of a win-win. They can hopefully have a better operating position, and the gas utility can make fewer investments in the infrastructure to service them. So it actually benefits all parties.
So in essence, the kind of projects that we have seen are full-service restaurants — very cost-effective, both new construction and retrofit — although I would say the activities probably more are the retrofit than on new construction as in the past couple years. But we have seen it actually go into smaller hood systems or ones that have fewer hours. And so a quick service is definitely one where that it's been applicable as well.
And a couple of notable chain projects: We have a Moe's Southwest Grill in our neck of the woods and they did an initial installation with a variable-speed system, the DCV, and it's been effective. And then they had an initiative for a subsequent store in our area that was to be a LEED certified building. And they actually have, the best to my knowledge, they have attained that LEED silver that they were seeking. And one of the measures obviously was the demand control ventilation, and they also had a little bit of a twist where it was integrated in and designed in conjunction with the overall building HVAC system.
So, it's a pretty nice teaming effort between the hood manufacturer and the designer, as well as the A3Ac System company and designer. So it's kind of a nice melding of technologies there. So, very successful and a lot of neat opportunities there. And that's about it for our program, it's been great.
Great. Thanks, Ray. Andre, why don't you go ahead and talk about your experiences.
All right. Andre Saldivar here with Southern California Edison and I am Manager of our Food Service Technology Center. Can everybody hear me?
Okay. Just a little bit where we're at. We are in the middle of PG&E, which is north of us and above San Diego Gas and Electric. And really when I talk about our program, I'm really talking about our statewide program, because three — investor-only utilities along with SoCal Gas pretty much run the same incentive rebate program in the state, and we consider it a statewide program similar to Ray's — you know, what's driving our program is the availability. But our biggest thing is the potential for this. The amount of hoods that are in California, as Don spoke to — considering the restaurants, the hotels, hospitalities, schools, colleges — it's just huge, and we've only maybe have hit one or two percent of that. So that continues our drive for this.
And as Don mentioned in the beginning, there was really one, and we partnered with that manufacturer and did up to 12 test sites, and that covered all segments, not just your sit-down or casual restaurants. But we did work with them and the hospitality and cafeterias in colleges and universities. So the potentials here — and that's what keeps driving us — as Tim mentioned, there are up to about six now manufacturers.
And, again — statewide, we are looking to partner with them, the five manufactures to kind of similarly do another five to six test sites per manufacturer covering these different segments. Again, the main goal of driving this program is the potential out there for — we know how many hoods exist, whether it's in a corporate cafeteria or in a strip mall or one of our large hotel chains — things like that, we see the potential.
Again, even though I'm from Southern California, I am talking statewide. We are all behind this in the state of California and have been offering the incentive since 2010. I would say, just like Ray, most of our installs have been on retrofit. Our applications that have come through since 2010 have been mostly retrofit.
The success I would say has been two of the known major hotel chains that we partner up, and they ended up seeing that its return on investment is pretty fast within a year in some cases and decided to roll it out, not only in the state of California, but throughout the United States where they are located.
Kim, did you want me to continue on to Question 2 or do you want me to talk to the both?
Yeah, talk to them both, and then what we'll do is we'll ask Matt to talk and then open it up for questions from everybody.
Okay. So our successes have been with two major hotel chains, both throughout the state. They've done it in PG&E and SDG&E territory as well.
We did have a couple of chains, particularly franchises, that tried an install that you can see from our reports and studies that Don mentioned in his presentation. Just not sure where we — they've done one or two — and, you know, whether it was cost or we just need to figure that out. And we're looking to partner up with these similar chains or new chains on the other manufacturers that have been mentioned.
So, we worked with them on the manufacturer that kind of started this technology and looking to partner up with them again, and really identify, "What is it? Is it a cost? Is it the ROI that didn't move forward on rolling this out, corporate and franchise? Or, was it something else?" And so we would like to hear back from the chains that are on this call and see where we could continue to work with you.
As mentioned, we're here. We have an ET project that we can — potential, and in the end, really build up the CEE database that has been mentioned both by Don and Kim. So that's kind of our focus, not just with Southern California, but again, stressing that it is a statewide effort here in California.
Great. Thanks, Andre. And like I said, we'll open it up for questions from everybody. But first, let's hear from Matt.
Great. Thank you, Kim. Well, good afternoon, everyone. Good morning to some of you on the West Coast.
As Kim mentioned, my name is Matthew Matenaer, I'm a program manager for one of our business programs with Wisconsin's Focus on Energy. And we're structured very similar to NYSERDA or Efficiency Vermont, or I guess the Energy Trust of Oregon in that our program is a statewide, a blanket program for all the public utilities and the rate-payers in the state of Wisconsin. I would probably estimate that 99.9 percent of chain restaurants in the states would qualify for our program just based on utility service territories.
So to get to the first question, "What is driving your program to consider and provide incentives for commercial kitchen ventilation DCV system?"
Specifically in Wisconsin, there is great, great, great potential for natural gas savings with this technology, simply due to the reduction of tempered make-up air as the result of DCV installation for CKV systems — also with the other benefit obviously of electric savings. So we have some pretty significant incentives currently in Wisconsin that I'll talk about in a little bit. But the main driver for why our prescriptive offerings are more lucrative than, say, maybe California is that we also take into account the natural gas savings that you're going to get from reducing all of that tempered air make-up that you've got to bring back into your stores through commercial kitchen ventilation. So we're always looking for additional ways to entice restauranteurs or franchise operators to participate in our programs, and this technology, like Ray and Andre have said before me, it's a very cost-effective measure for our program.
We currently have incentives for food service equipment — namely griddles, fryers, convection ovens, and so on. But the restauranteurs are generally not going to replace a piece of cooking equipment for the energy savings alone. These purchases, along with domestic hot water heaters are usually made at the end of the useful life of their previous piece of equipment, and so opportunity with those measures to influence is within a very small window — usually when the restaurant owner needs to replace a piece of equipment and gets repairs. So we look at the demand control ventilation systems as being not only a very cost-effective measure, but also a timely measure that most restaurant chain owners and operators can utilize much more frequently than, say, a piece of food service equipment.
So in terms of our demand control ventilation incentives, we have, right now, prescriptive offerings for DCV systems. We've had it for about three to four years now, and our incentives are anywhere from $200.00 to $700.00 per horsepower, plus a bonus for make-up air units. And the $200.00 to $700.00 range is really based on some independent test data that we've collected on a number of different systems. I know that in Don's previous presentation, he talked a little bit about some of the differences on the different systems.
To date, we have seen very little participation from the quick-service and the casual dining industries, and are trying to figure out why. Granted, a lot of the quick-service restaurants have designed ventilation systems really to maximize efficiency based on their typical cooking operations, and their hoods aren't all that large.
Now for casual dining chains like Applebee's or Chili's or TGI Friday's, we're really curious as to why there hasn't been much consideration for these systems yet in Wisconsin. The markets that we've seen that have really utilized our offerings have been more institutional facilities and hotels for the most part, with a few independent restaurants here and there. But wherever there's an opportunity to help promote these systems if restaurant chains are considering adding this feature as an option for restaurant operators to consider, we'd be fully supportive of that and hope to get the word out on our incentives in how to help fund these systems.
We currently do have a chain stores and franchises program. Right now, that kicked off a little over nine-ten months ago, and it's designed specifically for restaurant, retail, and grocery chain and franchises that operate in Wisconsin. And our goal is to grow participation in these markets using a top-down approach. Needless to say, getting restaurant chains onboard and taking advantage of our program offerings has been more difficult than other market segments. Obviously in the restaurant industry, the majority of the restaurant locations are franchise, so we found it more difficult to identify with franchise operators to get in the door so to speak. So the general sentiment in talking to the franchise about their corporate location is that we're better off trying to make contact at the regional store level.
A lot of times corporate contacts that I've spoken with don't have much time to spread the word to other franchise operators in the United States and Canada, and specifically in certain utilities jurisdictions; so we've found this to be the case, even in Wisconsin where our program is statewide.
And that's it.
Thanks, Matt. So I think there were a few common themes that I pulled out. You know, I think Andre and Matt especially had talked about some of the challenges that they're seeing in terms of chains adopting the technology and seeking out participation in programs. So maybe we could start with those questions for alliance members on the call.
So are there any BBA members that would like to talk about the issues that have been raised by the utilities?
This is John Ahrendt with Bloomin' Brands.
How are you?
Good. How are you doing? Glad you could make it.
Thank you. Yeah, it's good to be here. We've got my whole team here, we've been sitting in listening. A couple things that we face is, one, each utility has a completely different program on how they decide on how they want to use the rebate dollars or incentives dollars for us. It's confusing for us to think about the entire country — who has a good program, who doesn't. It's also hard to try and get momentum on a project.
One of the questions I have for you guys is, "How do we prove the ROI on some of these items that you've been talking about?"
Certainly I want to do it and I can't wait to do it, but I've got other initiatives that we've been working on that we know are going to be effective today, such as EMS rolling out standards. We had to start with the basics with our organization just recently within the last couple years, so we're going to get to demand control ventilation and run it as an initiative here shortly; but it's also — you know, you could affect operations, it's something that could slow us down. So there's a lot of moving parts with our hoods that we're hesitant to just jump in because there's an incentive sitting there with a utility. That's a great secondary for us because we found that they're hard to capture at times.
So those incentives aren't all that impactful for us today, because sometimes they're on the backside, they're hard to prove; you've got to time it with people within the utility; and we're trying to move things ourselves. So having to coordinate a third-party that's being pulled in other directions can also be a challenge within itself.
So those are some of the reasons, I just thought I'd throw those out there. But the biggest one being, if it makes sense to our business to invest in putting in and retrofitting an existing hood system with new motors if we don't have the variable-speed motors in place, the sensors to actually change that demand control, that can be an expensive and costly endeavor for us — and a couple hundred bucks is not going to be enough to make up for the overall investment and the potential return, and then proving out that ROI is really our biggest challenge today.
Great comments. Thank you, John. Any thoughts from the utilities side?
Well this is Ray Keller. I would say there's a couple — we're all working towards the same end so far as trying to find measures that have good return on investment that works for everybody and the utility. What I would do is always approach the utility and see what programs that they have available; and the utility can be a good check to help you figure out ROI — meaning I do my own investigations. I'll do the research and I'll actually do my own energy-savings calculation, and it's all based on the science provided by like the Food Service Technology Center and what CEE provides. So what we'll do is we'll actually go in and independently come up with our own savings. So use the utility when you can. That's all I have.
John, this is Don Fisher. I think one of the things that everybody, every chain, every restaurant particularly, each of the chains have to develop their own analysis for their own operation, because — I'm looking at the different players on the line — each of these systems has fairly significant differences, okay.
So one restaurant-type chain may not have a return on investment that quite meets the criteria, where somebody else — particularly the hotel side of the game, you know, it may be just a slam dunk. So I think you need to wrestle with where this technology fits in your operation, independent of the incentives. And then, you also have to recognize that the energy savings associated with DCV do vary around the country.
As Matt had said, up in Wisconsin you're going to get quadruple the gas heating savings than you are on the West Coast. And then I think you need to say, "Where would you take this technology if there were not incentives?" Then you start to look at the level of incentive that is needed to make the ROI equation favorable from your business perspective. But the initiative needs to be taken, and maybe some of the end users on the call want to talk about their perspective.
But, yeah, I think you do have to take the initiative. And then to capitalize on what Ray just said, which is, "Work with one of your utilities to help you develop this analysis."
Yep, that makes sense. Thanks, Don.
This is Andre with Edison. I would add to Don that, yeah, John, some of the programs can be difficult. But a lot of programs, what they have is a deemed program and a performance program. So it might be only a couple hundred dollars on the deemed program. But in the state of California — and there's a couple of other utilities across the United States as well that do have a performance program, so you can always — which can yield —incentivize two to three times more than with the deemed, basically going in and getting true savings for your particular restaurant.
Again, the deemed savings is an average of the test sites that we did As Don's saying, your restaurant is a little bit different from that. So you can always go through if the utility offers a performance program and really get paid for your true savings for your particular restaurant.
And, you know, work with the utility, work with the manufacturer, do some research, as Don mentioned, and say, "Hey, which manufacturer, which technology, which system would work for your specific chain?" And give us a call and see if we can put you in contact with the manufacturer and maybe get one test site so you guys can really see what the savings is, and then calculate it —what the ROI is.
Yep, that makes sense. One of the other problems, to stay with the utility theme, is if we were to just do it in a one-off pilot that's easy to work that utility, we actually have to hire a third-party company to help us get these incentives and rebates out because we're in the 48 contiguous, we're in Alaska, we're in Hawaii, we're somewhere in Puerto Rico — we've got locations all over the place. We have to deal with each and every one of those utilities, so it's not as simple as just calling up and getting Ray or Andre on the phone. It's that times hundreds of utilities out there, and contacts. So it's a lot of work and effort on our side to chase down unknown dollars.
It might say on paper that we're going to get a couple hundred, or maybe even double that. But is that worth the amount of time to actually chase it down? So we actually hire a third-party company to actually do all this work.
You know, in a one-off pilot, it makes perfect sense to get on the phone with one of you guys. To do this across the entire country and chase every rebate, that's a considerable amount of time that really may not even be worth it in a lot of cases.
So this is Kim from CEE. I just kind of want to connect the dots a little bit.
The idea behind the clearing house is that if you can do the one-off pilot with a utility and you are both okay with sharing that data and putting it in the clearing house, the idea is that you won't have to do that one-off pilot with everybody. You'll be able to point to that and say, "This was done in a way that meets your needs. These are the actual savings we saw."
And you can go through and do something that's either a little bit more calculated or something that's a lot easier than the one-off pilot with every utility around the country. So I just wanted to make that connection.
One thing that I do want to just kind of circle back to is a point that Andre made a little bit earlier where SoCal Edison had done a one-off pilot with a chain in their area, and they're not really sure what the barriers are to rolling that out a little bit more widely. So for the chains on the line, are any of you in that similar position where you've tested this out, and if so, what are some of the barriers that you're seeing to rolling it out a little more broadly?
David Harper at Yum! Brands.
Good thing you spoke, David, because I was just going to call you out. [Laughter]
I think, you know, the challenges — and I would echo John's point about the difficulty of rebates. But as Don said, rebates are almost a secondary part of this. It's got to work for you really economically on its own to consider doing it first of all.
But the other thing is — so, number one, in a new store it might be feasible, because you can design it in and incorporate it. Retrofitting after the fact is challenging, because you've got to integrate it in, not only with the exhaust fan, but then you have to integrate it in with a make-up fan. And that might be rooftop units, which then you've got to deal with, how do you isolate the fan in a rooftop unit that's providing make-up air? So, it's a little bit challenging from a implementation standpoint, and then ongoing maintenance after you've made the change.
But, secondly, I think — and probably more importantly — is, how effective is it? While we may on paper show that we're saving energy, we may be compromising the hood's ability to effectively capture the exhaust, because we've done some studies. Don's aware of this, depending upon which system you choose, there's a time-lag between when the cooking process starts and when the system realizes that the cooking process has started. And so it's very likely at times that you're cooking and you're in low exhaust, and then vice-versa.
So while it's great to save energy, if you're compromising performance then you really haven't done the restaurant any good. And so today, in order to get to a reliable system that is at high-speed when you want it high-speed and low-speed when you want it low-speed, it's very expensive and the payback doesn't really meet the hurdles that we need.
Don, any thoughts on that?
Yeah, no, that's right. And I just realized something in maybe terms of the challenge that John talked about. So if you run your analysis for your own operation and it makes sense for new installs, that's good. In other words, if it doesn't make sense for new installs without an incentive, this technology probably isn't going to fly for your operation.
What you just said, David, is that the cost of retrofitting — and let's be honest, the cost of retrofitting DCV, whether you're talking the simpler temperature-only or the more sophisticated, it still is two to three times. And if there's motor replacement requirements, two to four times the cost of a new install. So this is where the utility rebates really can help on an existing facility basis. Right? But I would submit that a chain needs to make — if a chain is not moving forward with new installations where the cost is 50 percent to 25 percent of their retrofit, then I don't think you should be playing in the retrofit market.
But I think that's where the utilities can really change that ROI equation. So I would certainly submit that the chains are looking at it from a new design perspective, and then leveraging the utilities in the various parts of countries to help their franchises retrofit the technology.
Does that make sense, David?
Okay. Well, we're getting close to 2:00 here. Why don't we wrap up with talking about next steps, if any. I just want to go back to the bookmark I put in at the end of Don's talk in which I mentioned that perhaps there might be some technology specification for communications with appliances.
And, David, to your point, if the hoods are able to turn on quickly because they have heard from the appliance that the appliance is being turned on, perhaps that'll reduce the issues with performance. So I want to put that out there and also just ask about whether there's anything in terms of coordination and collaboration between Better Buildings Alliance and Consortium for Energy Efficiency that we'd like to look into?
That's a lot of response.
Yeah, okay. [Laughter] I wasn't sure if I'd gotten knocked off the call there. So, okay.
This is Kim from CEE. One quick question I have is, "Was this call helpful?" I'm not sure what the collaboration opportunities might be going forward, but this was kind of an experiment to just kind of test the waters, learn what each other's doing. Did folks find this helpful?
I think it's been very helpful. This is Russ with Wendy's.
It's been very informative on what's going on, and across the country, what the utilities are doing and what CEE is doing. Just a project that I'm just getting ready to start into is testing demand control ventilation in existing QSR, and so this has given me a lot of information — and some of you are going to hearing from me later.
And Richard knows I do that.
Yeah, it's good. [Laughter] We know Russ is around, that's for sure — and that's excellent. I encourage anybody else to contact Ray, Andre, Matt, Kim, myself, Don if there is anything you want to talk about regarding this.
Absolutely. And just one thing to add, Rich. I do want to mention in the clearing house project, one thing that CEE does have is a list of utilities and manufacturers who are interested in doing field tests to add to the clearing house. All of the utilities and program administrators on the list and all the manufacturers on the list have provided contact information — phone numbers, email addresses. So if you do want to connect with anybody, feel free to contact me. I can send you the lists and help at least get the ball rolling.
Great. And I just actually want to put one quick question out there before we adjourn. To what extent — given that we have now with what Kim talked about in terms of standard methods of testing and characterizing demand control ventilation- how much do people think that the differences between the utilities amount to what the input to them is, in terms of application and what's required? And how much is it in terms of measurement in verification or proving things out in some way?
Anybody? Because what I'm thinking is that if there is something on the side of information that's required, if we have sort of a standard characterization methodology, perhaps there could be a little bit of a streamlining getting the information into utilities where utilities could work together to agree on a common application.
Well I think this is what we get for going over our hour. So [Laughter] on that note, thank you all very much for attending and keep a lookout for the link on the website — the Better Buildings Alliance website. I want to thank Kim Erickson, Don Fisher, Ray Keller, Andre Saldivar, and Matt Matenaer, and thank you all for participating.
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