It's in the air
There's a reason the old adage starts with "if you can’t stand the heat…." The temperature in a restaurant kitchen can easily reach triple digits with humidity levels that make the coolest, most composed chefs sweat through their jackets. But with a well-designed ventilation system, there’s no need to get out of the kitchen. A ventilation system is more than an exhaust hood; it involves the complex interaction of the kitchen with the other spaces in a restaurant. As such, ventilation may represent one of the largest equipment expenses. These innovations can make the heat in the kitchen more bearable - physically and financially.

Ventilation as capital improvement
Exhaust hoods, ductwork and fans, once installed, are typically considered to be permanent parts of a building's infrastructure. Since these pieces are rarely removed, any new fans, hoods and ductwork may fall under "capital improvement" for tax purposes and be exempt from sales tax if you file the required forms.

Lowering the cost of infrastructure
Most of the expense of kitchen ventilation systems comes from the fabrication and installation of the black iron ductwork and the fans that tie the exhaust system to the outside. One new element of Captive-Aire's System 10 program is its factory welded grease duct. "The CaptiveAire duct installs faster than black iron because there's no on-site welding involved," says Tom Summers, regional sales manager. Factory-welded ducts are caulked together in the field, simplifying the process and lowering cost.

The engineers at Gaylord Industries have developed the space-saving CG3 ventilation system that integrates a pollution control unit into the exhaust hood. These units (also known as precipitators or scrubbers) are typically installed in applications where smoke and odors, in addition to grease, must be removed from exhaust. Precipitators range in size based on the volume of exhaust and can occupy enormous amounts of space with all their required cabinets and walkways.

Operational Cost Control
"In an average restaurant, HVAC energy usage accounts for close to 50 percent of all utility costs," says Rich Catan, vice president of sales and marketing for Halton Americas. The recent industry push has been to create "greener" energy management systems to help save money.

Halton's offering is the M.A.R.V.E.L., which "uses a combination of duct temperature sensing and infrared sensing of appliance surfaces," explains Catan. As higher temperatures are detected, fan speeds increase to exhaust the heat and grease-laden vapors. The result is an exhaust system that consumes less energy during slower/lighter cooking periods than during heavier cooking times.

Gaylord Industry's approach is a line of high-efficiency hoods designed with extended capture lips at the sides and front, and a grease cup that inserts into the baffle instead of hanging down the back. These hoods also allow different exhaust rates within the same canopy through the use of interchangeable filters. When added up, these "passive engineering methods can add up to 40 percent reduction in CFM [cubic feet per minute] of air flow through the hood," says Kevin Haas, vice president.

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