Build a Sustainable Commercial Kitchen: 5 Energy Saving Tips

Chef preparing meals in a sustainable commercial kitchen

Reducing energy use in a sustainable commercial kitchen requires implementing environmentally-friendly building and development methods. 

As one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, designing a commercial kitchen that focuses on energy conservation can significantly impact climate change and slow global warming. 

Whether designing new construction or upgrading an existing structure, you'll want to know what strategies will optimize the building's energy usage. Let's review the latest sustainability trends in commercial kitchen design.

Key Takeaways:

  • Benefits of designing and operating a sustainable commercial kitchen include reduced operational costs, profit boosts, and improving a brand's image.
  • Appliance placement is as vital for energy efficiency as it is to purchase high-efficiency models. Group hot appliances together away from cold appliances.
  • Reduce energy waste by 5-10% by regularly changing the HVAC filters. Set a schedule and mount it to the side of all appliances that will require filter changes.
  • A commercial kitchen can save more than 7,000 gallons of water and 5,700 cubic feet of natural gas by installing a pre-rinse spray valve for pre-washing dishes.
  • Kitchen managers must implement sustainability practices, like cleaning refrigeration coils, skipping preheating the oven, and installing faucet aerators.

Benefits of Operating a Sustainable Commercial Kitchen

There is more than an intrinsic value to energy savings like helping the planet. There are significant reasons for focusing on sustainability, using clean energy, and reducing energy waste to help the environment that also makes sense financially. 

Whether installing energy-efficient plumbing fixtures to reduce usage or implementing strategies to promote efficiency, operating a sustainable commercial kitchen is environmentally responsible. It can also boost profits. 

Along with promoting efficiency, other benefits of conserving energy usage include (but are not limited to):

  • Reduces environmental impact
  • Lowers operational costs
  • Improves brand image
  • Leads to leaner overall operations
  • Qualifies organizations for tax credits
  • Enhances company culture

5 Energy Savings Tips for Building a Sustainable Commercial Kitchen  

Infograph of energy usage in a typical food service establishment

Improving efficiency in the food service industry goes beyond reducing food waste (although that is also very vital to creating a net-zero establishment). These five energy-saving tips will help you design and build a sustainable commercial kitchen. 


1. Evaluate Appliance Locations  

The arrangement of the kitchen equipment is a common sustainability mistake. If you place a stovetop or oven close to a refrigeration unit, both appliances must work harder to keep the food hot or cold (depending on its function). Group appliances with adequate space between cooking and refrigeration/freezer units to improve energy efficiency.

2. Upgrade Older Equipment When Necessary  

Older appliances and fixtures waste energy. Replace outdated equipment with newer models when possible and repair any poorly operating machines, fixtures, and fittings. Check to see if you can retrofit any existing fixtures with upgraded hardware to reuse as many materials as possible and reduce waste.

When purchasing new equipment like faucets, look for models with interchangeable parts. That way, the process is simplified and more cost-effective when you need to retrofit existing fixtures. 

3. Replace Your Fixtures and Fittings

When retrofitting existing fixtures isn't possible, reduce energy waste and promote efficiency by replacing faucets and fittings with high-quality, energy-efficient fixtures. These faucets can save building owners 25-60% in energy costs (including water, sewer, electricity, and natural gas). 

Along with fixtures, replace small appliances, lightbulbs, and other items that use electricity with energy-efficient versions. For example, LED lights use less wattage, have a 30 times longer life span, and reduce electricity costs by 75%. 

Replacing less efficient bulbs with LED lights may require more upfront costs (as LEDs are more expensive per bulb). However, the energy savings, in the long run, make up the financial difference. 

Furthermore, many municipalities and state governments will offer tax incentives for replacing bulbs with LEDs.

4. Review Your Ventilation and Air Condition Expenses

A significant portion of a commercial kitchen's energy costs is due to air conditioning, heating, and ventilation. To save money and reduce energy waste, purchase AC units and ventilation hoods designated as "energy efficient" or "energy saving."   

Programmable thermostats are also available to reduce excessive periods of idle heating. Furthermore, you can reduce energy waste by 5-10% when you change the HVAC filters regularly.

5. Install Low-Flow Pre-Rinse Spray Valves

Pre-washing dirty dishes with a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve before putting them in the dishwasher can save money and conserve natural resources compared to an old, inefficient pre-rinse spray valve unit.

A commercial kitchen can save over 7,000 gallons of water annually by installing a high-efficiency pre-rinse valve. These fixtures can also reduce the natural gas usage in a commercial kitchen by over 5,700 cubic feet each year. 

infograph of how much water a commercial kitchen saves by installing a pre-rinse valve

Tips for Kitchen Managers Operating Sustainable Commercial Kitchens

Even the best-built sustainable commercial kitchens can waste energy. It not only depends on the design and development of the space, but it also requires that managers implement sustainability practices within the kitchen. 

Here is an exhaustive list of tips that kitchen managers can use to run a more energy-efficient foodservice kitchen:

  • Adjust refrigerator thermostats
  • Clean all refrigeration coils regularly
  • Remove frost build-up
  • Skip preheating the oven
  • Cut the power early
  • Use glassware for reheating (it heats up faster)
  • Install faucet aerators
  • Don't leave the water running

Partner with the Experts in Sustainable Commercial Kitchens  

Designing, building, and maintaining food service kitchens requires installing durable fixtures that are also environmentally responsible. Whether you're an architect, designer, building manager, or owner, operating a sustainable commercial kitchen means partnering with sustainable plumbing experts.

At Chicago Faucets, we have been designing and manufacturing sustainable commercial kitchen faucets for more than 120 years. Not only are our fixtures better for the environment, but they are also easy on the budget (without sacrificing quality). 

Are you looking to design a sustainable commercial kitchen? Contact us today to learn more about our corporate responsibility for sustainability.   


Topics: healthy buildings, energy saving tips, commercial kitchen energy saving tips