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46 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • MARCH 2017 kitchen ventilation manager at Fisher-Nickel Inc., a San Ramon, Calif.-based division of Frontier Energy Inc. "While there is still a cost barrier for mom-and-pop restaurants, many hotels and institutions see great value in demand-controlled ventila- tion." Some larger chain restaurants also acknowledge the business case for the technology. And, the return on investment — once on the slow side — continues to accelerate; DCKV systems can lead to energy savings of up to 60 percent. Analyze those systems in cities and regions with extreme weather swings like Chicago or Miami, and the savings only continue to climb, according to Swierczyna. According to the EPA, manufacturers can increase the responsiveness of their systems through one of four methods: placing the temperature sensor closer to the cooking appli- ance; providing an optical sensor to detect effluent; using an infrared sensor to detect temperature changes remotely rather than waiting for the heat or effluent to waft up; and directly communicating with the cooking appliances. In the past two years, the number of DCKV systems with multiple temperature sensors (for placement closer to the cook- ing appliances) and remote sensors has increased. That led to further energy savings in some installations with highly vari- able cooking loads, which allows for significantly decreased fan speeds during idle periods. Integrating DCKV with energy management systems that can remotely monitor the system's operation can even more dramatically improve performance and energy savings, although hood manufacturers and EMS providers still seem to work independently of each other. At least one hood manufacturer offers an integrated system, but many others remain in stand-alone operations, which poses an ongoing challenge to DCKV adoption in the market. "It's become a political issue, but we're hoping in the near future that these two technologies will be eventually integrated," says Swierczyna. After seeing the benefits of an integrated EMS and ventilation system, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews continues to roll out new energy management systems across its 449 corporate-owned restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. The project is on track for completion by early 2017. Energy management systems underwent significant testing in select Red Robin restaurants prior to the system- wide rollout that began in May 2016, according to a state- ment released by the chain. The end result will give Red Robin increased ability to control HVAC set points and exterior lighting, as well as monitor both HVAC and water heater performance and efficiency in its restaurants. The new systems will also provide Red Robin with visibility into HVAC unit performance and streamline the mainte- nance process. In other positive news, the number of incentive programs and rebates for DCKV continue to grow. And, Swierczyna notes, "these incentives are slowly popping up outside of SERVICING HOODS Depending on use, ventilation systems have an aver- age lifespan of between 15 and 20 years, but there are a number of signs it might be time to replace them. The most obvious sign is grease building up that can't be removed through professional cleaning. In addition, excessive airflow, caused by an outdated system or poor design, can hamper performance and increase HVAC costs. Menu changes might also call for a new hood configuration — or even a downgrade — because certain foods release more smoke and grease than others. To keep hoods in working order, professionally clean the hood and duct twice a year, and clean the grease filters and the capture area at least weekly, depending on the application, according to most manufacturer guidelines. Less efficient grease extrac- tors will need cleaning more often. Operators should also thoroughly clean the makeup air unit's aluminum mesh filters every six months and replace disposable makeup air filters monthly. Inspect the exhaust fan and belt biannually. And depending on local code requirements, inspect fire suppression systems at least twice a year. Ventilation poses some of the greatest com- plexities, considerations and code requirements in commercial kitchens, but instead of stopping the conversation and movement toward greater efficien- cies, it should inspire it.