The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has just thrown the kitchen design handbook out of the window, at least as far as ventilation is concerned. So how will this affect everyone, especially those who have a kitchen as their workplace?
BESA represents professional contractors in all branches of construction, and issues guidance on safe and effective installation and design methods. Their handbook on the specification of kitchen air con and ventilation systems has been around for nearly twenty years and is thought of as the most authoritative guidance both in the UK and in many other parts of the world.
So why have they ‘taken a hatchet’ to this bible of the ventilation industry? What is so wrong with our current kitchen air conditioning?
New ways of cooking and new laws
It seems that a combination of new thinking about ventilation, new technology for providing it, and new laws governing it, has meant a complete revision of the guidance.
Some of the change is due to new ways of cooking and changes to the design of catering equipment. Many restaurants now use steam ovens for the bulk of their cooking, for example. A steam oven allows the kitchen to cook a number of different fish, vegetable or meat dishes at one time, saving time and money, but posing challenges to the air con system.
Some of the changes in the guidance are technical, including an expanded fuel coefficient schedule. This is used by ventilation designers to design effective systems which will give appropriate airflow, given the gas or electrical appliances that are used in the kitchen, and the equipment’s area.
There’s also a new section giving advice on heating and cooling when solid fuel kitchen equipment is in use, and there’s been a complete update of the lighting section.
Smart kitchens are changing HVAC
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) design now has to take account of “smart” or “demand controlled” ventilation for kitchens. The idea behind this is that the people using the kitchen get the right quantity of fresh air at the time that they need it. Intelligent airflow management is used to make energy savings when there isn’t a high need for ventilation.
Similarly, the new emphasis on pollution levels within our buildings has led to a rethink of the guidance on what levels of toxins are permitted in breathable air, and how pollution can be controlled through HVAC systems.
BESA has worked with catering supplier groups, to develop maintenance schedules for HVAC and equipment used in kitchens. The suppliers are keen on optimum maintenance because it prolongs the life of their equipment, reduces energy costs and delivers compliance with the applicable legislation.
The new guidelines cover every kind of equipment from ovens and hobs, to cold rooms, coffee machines and griddle pans. They specifically cover ductwork and cleaning of the filters on grease extract equipment.
Kitchens with well designed and legally compliant HVAC systems are safer, cleaner and pleasanter places, both for workers and for those who are eating the meals produced in them.