Institutional food service establishments typically serve food in one of three ways.
1. Cafeteria style for take-out or to be consumed by diners who take their trays to tables or booths,
2. Pre-planned meals on trays loaded into wheeled transporters for distribution; typically hospitals,
3. Similar in all ways to a full service restaurant. These are typically executive dining rooms of large enterprises.
Depending on which of the three, they may have limited menus or have a rather large menu of food and drink choices. They may also use anything from all plastic to fine dinnerware and utensils. These facilities include dining areas plus the associated food storage, preparation, and cooking kitchen areas.
HVAC, lighting, water heating, refrigeration, and cooking are the principal energy users. Where plastic is used, water heating will be lessened to only cleaning and hand washing needs. Some are operated by franchised chains and the designs are standardized by the chain's headquarters.
Institutional food service facilities frequently pose comfort conditioning problems:
- Extremely variable loads with high peaks in energy demand.
- High sensible and latent heat gains due to people, food preparation and presentation, as well as any gas venting requirements.
- Potential for unbalanced air flow conditions in areas adjacent to kitchens and in smoking and non-smoking areas.
- Kitchen systems need to be separate from other areas to avoid odor contamination and heat migration during higher indoor summer design conditions.
Stand-alone facilities typically utilize air-cooled roof-top equipment. Ideally the systems are designed with one unit serving each zone. When located in larger buildings they may be tied into the building's chilled/hot water system. In cases where their operating hours not being coincidental with that of the building, they may have separate systems serving only their needs. They may be water-cooled where cooling tower water is available, otherwise they are usually air-cooled due to the lower maintenance required.
Recommendations/Energy Services Opportunities
Be alert to expansion needs and the potential replacement of old inefficient HVAC and refrigeration equipment with new, improved units. On new installations, consider integrating HVAC and refrigeration into a geothermal heat pump system.
In the Quick Service Dining category, which includes lunchrooms, cafeterias, snack bars, fast food chains and coffee shops, the emphasis is on speed.
These facilities generally have higher illumination levels, and the lighting is uniform throughout the dining area. This creates a feeling of economy and efficiency. Besides incandescent lamps, triphosphor and compact fluorescents are good choices.
Recessed fluorescent fixtures combined with pendant mounted fixtures over the tables often provide a nice touch along with indirect fluorescent fixtures such as cove or soffit lighting. Use accent lighting sparingly if at all.